From Gaza – "We are still alive"

Gaza’s power plant has received fuel to generate electricity for the third day running today — but it is not enough to keep the plant operating until Sunday.

The power plant has cut back output, but — unless more fuel is delivered on Friday — there will be no fuel left by around mid-day on Saturday. The exact time will depend on consumption and output.

Today, Gaza’s power plant is using two turbines only at partial loads, and generating only 45 MW of electricity.

So far, 1,260,000 liters of fuel have been delivered since the power plant stopped producing electricity at 20:00 on Sunday night due to lack of fuel. But that is only enough to operate two turbines at partial loads for four days.

Dr. Omar Kittaneh, head of the Palestinian Energy Agency in Ramallah, said Tuesday that he had been told by the Office of [Israeli] Government Activities in the Territories that 700,000 liters would be delivered on Tuesday, again on Thursday, and then again on Sunday – for a total of 2.1 million liters of fuel.

Rafiq Maliha, project manager at the plant in Gaza, reported that Israel delivered 765,000 liters of the industrial diesel fuel needed to run the plant on Tuesday.

Maliha, in Gaza, said he had been instructed to operate two turbines at full loads, producing 65 MW.

Maliha also said on Tuesday that he had been told that the Israelis would try to deliver a little more than 700,000 liters that day, if possible. In the end, nearly 10% additional did come in.

But, Maliha said, the plant then received 180,000 cubic liters on Wednesday. And today, Thursday, the plant received 315,000 cubic liters — still well short of the 700,000 liters promised by today.

The plant began to power up just after noon on Tuesday, after the resumed fuel delivery.If the plant had run the two gas turbines at full load since then, it would be totally out of fuel again tomorrow morning, Friday.

Dr. Maliha said he had no idea if more fuel will be delivered on Friday or not.

Normally, there are no fuel deliveries on Friday or Saturday.

In this chaotic situation, the decision had been made to cut back output to 45 MW only.

Even so, Maliha said, “We cannot continue operations until Sunday. Right now, it is very difficult for us to plan. We received fuel today, and we are operating today. We are just using what we receive”.

The Coastal Municipalities Water Utilities reports that there is a shortfall of normal diesel fuel affecting its water-pumping and sewage-pumping stations at various places throughout Gaza. The most critical situation concerns the sewage-pumping stations, because sewage flooding can be lethal in the crowded Gaza Strip.

Maher Najjar of CMWU reports that as of Wednesday, three sewage treatment plants in Rafah (on the border with Egypt) have no fuel. In addition, four water pumps in Jabalia, two in al-Shata, and one in al-Nasser have no fuel. “If we have electricity, we can work”, Najjar explained. But, he said “there is no fuel in the Gaza treatment plant” to run back-up generators, and he said, “we have been dumping raw sewage directly into the sea”. “No fuel — normal diesel fuel — has been delivered to us for a long time”, Najjar added.

Najjar also reported the following:
1.      50% of Gaza city wells are barely operating since there is intermittent electricity, no fuel in most of them or under voltage (the decrease in water production is around 40 %)

2.      There is a fear of flood in sewage pump station 7B tonight

3.      Three sewage pump stations and the Gaza wastewater treatment plant are dumping 40,000 m3 (40,000,000 liters) as raw sewage to the sea.

4.      The level of the North WWTP (waste-water treatment plant) has increased by 15 CM.

Last March, sewage flooding killed six people in Um Nasser, in northern Gaza.

Sari Bashi, Executive Director of GISHA, one of the ten Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups that has been trying to fight the fuel cuts — and proposed electricity cuts — in the Israeli Supreme Court, reports that the Court has now granted their request for an urgent hearing concerning the present situation on Sunday 27 January at 10 am.

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