Egypt considers three locations for nuclear plant

A senior Egyptian official has said that Egypt is currently considering three different geographical locations to build its first nuclear power station.

“It has not yet been decided whether a proposed nuclear power station will be established at the Dabaa site (in Egypt’s northern coast),” said Khalid Ahmed, director of the Alexandria division of the Commission of Atomic Energy and Nuclear Safety. “This decision lies entirely within the presidency’s jurisdiction,” he clarified.

Speaking Wednesday evening at a symposium at Alexandria Rotary Club, Ahmed stressed that feasibility studies had indicated that the Dabaa area was one of the best possible sites to build the new plant.

“Other sites are being examined to see if they would be suitable for the establishment of additional nuclear power plants, including two locations in the governorates of Matrouh and el-Bahr el-Ahmar,” he said.

He stated that discussions about selecting the Dabaa area to build Egypt’s first nuclear power plant was “nothing new,” noting that “more than US$500 million” had been spent during former President Anwar Sadat’s time in office to study the matter. However, “a lack of material resources” was responsible for delays related to the project, despite the fact that “the project was awarded by bid to Germany at the time,” said Ahmed.

“The government is still deciding whether to build a plant at the site, however,” he stated. He explained that rigid “specifications” had to be met in order to ensure that any nuclear plant would meet international safety standards.

Ahmed indicated that the essential problem of using nuclear energy “revolved around its cost.” According to Ahmed, nuclear plant construction is expensive and requires a long period of time before the plant can be operated.

Also in attendance at the Rotary Club symposium was Mouhy el-Aisawy, consultant for the National Center for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Control, a division of the Atomic Energy Authority.

He said that Egypt had no choice but to develop its nuclear energy capabilities, saying that Egypt needed to take quick and decisive steps to make up for lost time. He noted that even if a site was chosen today and construction work began immediately, it would take ten years before Egypt would make it onto the list of nuclear states.

El-Aisawy denied that the land near any nuclear plant would be imperiled. “Every nuclear site in the world is safe, and if a nuclear plant is established in Dabaa or elsewhere it will pose no danger to the surrounding area.”

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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