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Published On: Tue, Dec 12th, 2017

Dinosaurs: Al-Sisi and Putin to sign Contracts for Egypt’s Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant

Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in the Egyptian capital Cairo on Monday to attend the final signing ceremony of Egypt’s first Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) of Dabaa. Putin arrived in Egypt upon a formal invitation by Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. The decision to build the power station came at a crossroad where Egypt faces energy shortages, but the nuclear option prompts serious security and environmental concerns and concerns about major earthquake and tsunami risk in the Mediterranean forecast by UNESCO.

Image courtesy Garryknight

Image courtesy Garryknight

Construction of the nuclear power plant is expected to be completed within seven years. The Russian designed NPP shall produce 4,800 megawatts. It is to be built in Dabaa, in Marsa Matrouh, located on the northern side of the country, west of Alexandria.

Putin and al-Sisi are reportedly also set to discuss other issues including latest developments in conflict hot spots in the Middle East, the resumption of Russian flights to Egypt, suspended after the downing of a Russian airliner in the Sinai in 2015, the decision to move the U.S.’ Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and more.

Egypt and Russia signed an agreement in 2015, aiming to build the NPP in Dabaa and agreeing that Russia extend a loan to cover the cost of construction. Russia reportedly agreed to loan Egypt $US 25 billion to finance the building and operation of the nuclear power plant against three percent interest per year. Installment payments will reportedly begin on October 15, 2029. The construction is expected to be completed by the year 2022.

Egypt’s energy consumption has nearly tripled between the years 1980 and 2000. The United Nations released data estimating that industrial demand accounted for almost half of the nation’s total energy demand reaching 46.0 percent in 2001. The other half was used in transportation (25.7 percent), residential use (19.6 percent) and others (8.7 percent). The NPP is seen as a long-term investment aimed to mitigate the expected decline in oil production from maturing fields.

The government encourages a reduction in the use of energy, especially in hydrocarbons. The Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy has, for example, launched a campaign urging people to reduce their daily consumption of electricity. The country was plagued by frequent blackouts that peaked in 2013 – 14.

Natural gas becomes the major energy source in Egypt. Its production represents 57 percent of the total production. Petroleum comes second with a total of 39 percent, hydropower 3 percent and finally renewables 0.5 percent, according to UN states.

Is investing into a dinosaur a good strategy for mitigating a decline in oil production from mature fields?

Ironically, Egypt is investing into the Nuclear Power Plant while Germany and China, the two global leaders in renewable energy, have come to the point where solar power and other sustainable technologies have reached the point where they break even, and that, without taking the costly decommissioning of NPPs and the problems with spent fuel into account. It appears as if Egypt and Russia aim to substitute fossil fuel with nuclear technology that already has become a dinosaur on its way to extinction, and UN data show that Egypt is lagging behind when it comes to sustainable energy.

The UN states that a total of 20 wind pumps have been locally manufactured in Egypt with the aim of introducing water-pumping windmills for meeting water supply needs for farmers for irrigation and drinking water. No program was set in motion to subsidize more of these wind pumps, wind turbines, and solar energy farms. The initiative for the development of solar energy came from Europe when the European bank for Reconstruction and Development approved a $US 500 million financing package for three new solar power plants. Investments in Egypt’s solar energy sector reportedly hit record levels in 2017 but a clear strategy aimed to avoid future dinosaurs can’t be seen. Egypt receives 9 – 11 hours of sunlight per day and it has an abundance of land, high wind speeds that allow for using the same real estate for both solar and wind farms.

When Egypt joined the Russian Nuclear Roulette Club?

In January 2016 Egypt began the construction of its nuclear power plant in Dabaa built by Russia’s Rosatom. Experts warned since the discovery of a new fault line that a devastating tsunami could strike the eastern Mediterranean “at any moment”. Instead of being remembered for the New Suez Canal for centuries, Egypt’s President Al-Sisi could be remembered for millennia, for a nuclear disaster that turned northern Egypt into a nuclear exclusion zone.

The Coming Mediterranean Tsunami and Nuclear Russian Roulette

Independent, informed and honest economists as well as experts in nuclear energy have long deflated the myth about the “too cheap to meter” slogan that was used to promote the “peaceful use of atoms” at the height of the cold war.

The cost associated with the storage of highly radioactive “spent fuel” for decades to centuries and millennia is orders of magnitude higher than any “revenue” that any NPP can ever accumulate. Add to this the price tag for decommissioning the “plant”. Add to that the known health-related cost linked to nuclear power plants. …

And this is the best case scenario, provided that nothing goes awry, like at Thee Miles Island, USA, in Chelyabinsk, Russia, in Chernobyl, Ukraine, or in Fukushima after an earthquake and a subsequent tsunami led to catastrophic meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Egypt is about to join the club of Mediterranean nations that are playing Nuclear Russian Roulette.

It Can’t Happen Here? Yes It Can – And It Will
IOC - UN Map

IOC – UN Map

Could an earthquake in the Mediterranean cause a Fukushima-like tsunami in Egypt? The answer is not only “yes it can”, it is “yes it will”, and experts warn that a catastrophic tsunami could inundate and devastate the Egyptian coast “at any moment”.

In 2007 Ata Elias and colleagues of the National Center for Geophysical Research in Beirut, Lebanon, discovered a new underwater fault line in the Mediterranean that now can explain previous catastrophic tsunamis that destroyed coastlines and cities. Elias noted that the fault line was the cause of the catastrophic earthquake in 551 A.D. The fault is estimated to produce a megathrust earthquake averagely every 800 years, so the next one is, so to speak, overdue.

The previously unrecognized, at least 100 km long fault line in the Hellenic Trench is, contrary to other fault lines not “lubricated”. Roger Bilham, geophysicist at the University of Boulder, Colorado commented on the 2007 discovery of the new fault line, saying that the study presents “bad news” – namely, that a handful of faults in the area “could slip in megaquakes (a.k.a. megathrust earthquakes) at any time”. Bilham added: “That the Mediterranean, with its growing coastal population in excess of 130 million … could host a large tsunami at any moment is cause for considerable unease”.

The historian Ammianus Marcellinus documented the devastating effects of the last megathrust earthquake and tsunami event in Alexandria, Egypt for posterity. Marcellinus wrote:

“The solidity of the whole earth was made to shake and shudder, and the sea was driven away,” he wrote. “The mass of waters returning when least expected killed many thousands by drowning. … Huge ships … perched on the roofs of houses …and others were hurled nearly two miles [3.2 kilometers] from the shore. … “

Other, separate accounts tell of earthquakes and tsunamis hitting other cities around the Mediterranean at roughly the same time. What would Ammianus Marcellinus have written for posterity, had there been a Nuclear Power “Plant” in Dabaa? Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi will be remembered as the General who came to power by a people-powered coup who built the New Suez Canal within one year, and who is building new ports and other vital infrastructure for and in Egypt. Why add a killer “plant” to the equation and silence those in Egypt (and Russia) who voice justified concerns?

CH/L – nsnbc 12.12.2017

About the Author

- Dr. Christof Lehmann is the founder and editor of nsnbc. He is a psychologist and former independent political consultant on conflict, conflict resolution and a wide range of other political issues. In March 2013 he established nsnbc as a daily, independent, international on-line newspaper. He can be contacted at nsnbc international at

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