CAIRO: The face-off between the government and Damietta residents over the building of a fertilizer plant continued as residents attempt to pressure the government into relocating the plant.
A conference was held late on Thursday in Damietta to coordinate local and union efforts to halt the construction of the Canadian Agrium petrochemical facility.
However, on the same day a shipment of equipment intended for the plant arrived at Damietta port, Al-Wafd newspaper reported. Although construction has been halted at the site since early in the week the arrival of the shipment indicates there is a still a possibility that the plant will be built on its present location.
The Health Committee of the People’s Assembly (PA) is due to inspect the Agrium site next Tuesday, and had agreed to suggest an alternative location for the plant, Al-Masry Al-Youm had reported.
Deputy Governor of Damietta Gamal El-Alfy told the PA that the building of the plant in its current location will endanger tourism in the area, a major source of income to the governorate, which he estimated at between LE 150 – 200 million annually.
Local opposition towards the plant stems from fears that it would pollute the surrounding environment, especially as it is close to residential areas and a beach resort.
“For Damietta, I don’t think it’s a suitable location regardless of the type of factory, because it is a fragile environment, vice president of the Association for the Protection of the Environment Salah El Haggar previously told Daily News Egypt.
A petition from the Housing and Building Cooperative in Damietta was submitted to the Ministry of Justice to halt construction, and is to be considered on May 19.
Agrium is a Canadian company that owns 60 percent of the plant, with the rest shared by various Egyptian and Saudi government entities.
The plant, which is due for completion in 2010, is a nitrogen facility that should consist of two ammonia and urea trains working at a combined capacity of 1.3 million tons of urea and 100,000 tons of net ammonia.
Agrium Egypt had previously denied to Daily News Egypt that the plant would be relocated, and their project director Khaled Salama insisted it “has more safety features than any other petrochemical plant in Egypt. It is 6 km away from any residential area and contains all the necessary safety procedures.