CAIRO: In a strange turn of events, Minister of Electricity Hassan Younis denied reports claiming that Egypt’s first nuclear power plant would be in Dabba, telling the Shoura Council Monday that its location has yet to be decided.
Younis said that the site for the power plant was still under consideration and would be announced soon, dismissing newspaper reports that claimed Dabba was the chosen site.
“There is no truth in these reports, he told the council.
Younis’ comments don’t square with an announcement he made two years ago, when he said that Egypt intended to build its first nuclear reactor at Dabba, 160 km west of Alexandria.
“Picking the location for the plant entails taking into account many technical considerations in the first degree, and many studies have been conducted to determine the most appropriate location, he said last August.
Head of the Shoura Council Safwat Al-Sherif also backed Younis during the meeting, saying, “The story superseded events and a story cannot supersede the actual events.
There have been recent accusations over the decision to pick Dabba as the location for the power plant, with scientists alleging that businessmen in the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) were trying to usurp the project to exploit Dabba for tourism instead.
Earlier this month, sources from the Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority (EAEA) were quoted by Al-Masry Al-Youm as saying that President Hosni Mubarak was leaning towards choosing Dabba, but that a coterie of businessmen from the policies committee of the NDP were trying to prevent it.
Last year Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif was quoted as saying, “Why are they insisting on Dabba? We can invest in this site for tourism instead, which sparked a media storm over perceived designs to appropriate the area for business ventures.
Last August, former members of the Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority attacked the intentions of businessmen which they deemed go against the national interest.
One of these businessmen, Ibrahim Kamel, NDP policies committee member, had warned of the dangers of building a nuclear plant in the North of Egypt and the dangers it could pose to Cairo and other governorates.
And former head of the Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed Abdel-Aziz said at the time, “Businessmen should stick to what they know and stay away from science.
Dabba is seen as an ideal location for the plant because it is not susceptible to earthquakes and is near water, as well as having a small population in the immediate surrounding area.
However, there are environmental concerns regarding the building of a nuclear site, and Egyptian environmentalists have called for seeking renewable sources of energy before turning to the construction of a nuclear power plant.