CAIRO: Over 2,000 local residents of Damietta marched on the governorate office Tuesday in protest over proposed plans to build a petrochemical plant in the area.
Protestors carried placards reading “No to the factory of death and “No to polluting our environment, AFP reported.
Despite local press reports to the contrary, there is as yet no official confirmation that the Agrium petrochemical plant will be relocated due to environmental concerns and proximity to residents.
Sources from Agrium Egypt told Daily News Egypt that the reports were speculative and that to their knowledge, no decision had been reached yet about the relocation.
Residents of Damietta are angry about the plant being built 6 km from their homes and a local movement has been organized to lobby for the relocation of the plant.
Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper had reported that head of the People’s Assembly (PA) Fathi Sorour and head of the PA’s Health committee Hamdy El Sayed had received word from the government that the plant was to be relocated and thus cancelled a scheduled trip to Damietta to investigate the matter.
The Health Committee had been due to inspect the Agrium site on Tuesday but in light of the latest developments Sorour postponed the trip indefinitely.
The report added that the government was currently in talks with Agrium about relocating the plant and that it was expected that the relocation would go through.
It also quoted Damietta governor Fathi Al Baradie as telling the protesting residents during a town meeting that the plant “will not be built in Damietta.
Deputy Governor of Damietta Gamal El-Alfy told the PA last week 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.
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.