Plans for building the first nuclear power plant in Egypt once postponed by Chernobyl now potentially stymied after Fukushima

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After years of stop-start efforts, Egypt’s nuclear-energy ambitions are once again in serious doubt.  The plan to build the nuclear power station in Dabaa on the Mediterranean coast in northern Egypt was initiated over 30 years ago, in 1981 under former President Anwar Sadat, however Egypt’s nuclear plans were frozen after the Chernobyl accident.

After Sadat’s rule, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak continued to push the plan, in 2008 Egypt signed an agreement with Russia to assist in building the first 1,000 MW nuclear power plant at El Dabaa which was scheduled be completed by 2017, but some new Egyptian leaders have indicated that the project may be reviewed.

Meanwhile, international concerns about Egypt’s lax nuclear security were also reminded this year of the chaos which ensued in 2003, after it was discovered that some 200 barrels of processed uranium ore (yellowcake) were stolen by looters, when in January of this year the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed reports that low-level radioactive material had been stolen from a laboratory at El-Dabaa.

The construction of the nuclear power plant was scheduled to start January of this year, but was thwarted by residents who blew up key work buildings, razed the walls around the site, started cultivating farmland, and putting up new structures.

The Egyptian Ministry of Electricity has stated that it still plans on going ahead with the construction in Dabaa, claiming that it would be too expensive to relocate the planned nuclear power plant away from this small, northwestern town by the Mediterranean Sea.

Mehana Abdel Hamid, the mayor of Dabaa, where Egypt’s first nuclear power plant was scheduled to be built, called on President Mohamed Mursi to “remove the injustice” of the power plant from El-Dabaa.  “The El-Dabaa nuclear project is dangerous,” he added, “After the Fukushima explosion, all the people became scared of the nuclear plant,” he added.

Source: JiJi Press

Source: The Japan Times

Source: The Jerusalem Post

Source:  The Egyptian Independent

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