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By Ilan Cohen, ITL CTO
Two decades ago Israel was not a player in the explosive environment arena. There was some minimal activity in the military industry to comply with military standards for “MIL” products only.
Natural Gas finding, a number of Israeli regulator decisions and the accreditation of labs and inspection bodies placed Israel on a new track. Now the Industry must provide approvals and must be assessed and certified in order to be regarded as a safe environment for explosive atmospheres.
In Israel a number of major milestones defined the way we deal and comply with explosive environments:
- Global standards adoption- Based on a decision by ministry of economy, during the time Naftali Benet was the minster, it was decided that when an international standard exist it needs to be adopted. Original Israeli standards will not be written when there is a globally acceptable standard like IEC or ISO.
- Umbrella Standards – in order to regulate the usage and implementation of global standards a number of Umbrella standards were written. These are similar to European directives (for example ATEX directive) and their goal is to create a framework of regulations and procedures. The Umbrella Standards do not replace the International standards of ISO and IEC.
- IECEx approvals – Israel Testing Laboratories (I.T.L.) was accredited as a Test Lab and a Certification body for products for Explosive environment and the inspector for factories that manufacture products for explosive environment. This is a service that was provided by International labs like Veritas, DNV, Intertek, TUV and is provided now locally by ITL.
Milestones which are under work:
- Inspection Bodies framework- the regulator, the Ministry of Energy, is leading an umbrella standard to inspect factories and facilities which are supplied with Natural Gas.
- Household Gas supply- There is a preliminary discussion on creating a framework and to regulate the household safety.
On one hand, implantation of the new milestones was not simple. The industry is not easily ready to adopt, make changes and to align with global requirements. We can take for example the Israeli Electrical company (חברת חשמל), ICL (כיל), Phoenicia (פניציה). These companies have made major investment in the past in equipment and facilities that were approved to arbitrary requirements which we can only hope are safely done.
On the other hand, Israeli leading R&D industry is making products for local markets and global export. Products like controllers, blowers, measuring equipment, gasoline stations systems which require approvals like: IECEx, ATEX and similar. These products can be fully tested and inspected by Israel Testing Laboratories (I.T.L) which was approved on 2015 for this by the IECEx and the Ministry of Economy.
There is still a way to go in order to make our environment safe and to regulate additional areas. Nevertheless the train has left the station and it looks like we are on the right track of adopting globally used standards, regulations and procedures to make our environment safer.