Dabaa officially announced as site of Egypt’s first nuclear reactor

President Hosni Mubarak made a final decision today on the selection of Dabaa as the site of Egypt's first nuclear reactor, said presidential spokesman Suleiman Awad.

The president made his decision at a meeting of Egypt's Supreme Council of Nuclear Energy. Awad told reporters the meeting was "extremely important and represents a transition on the path to implementing a strategic program to ensure power supplies and peaceful uses for nuclear energy."

He added that the Supreme Council of Nuclear Energy has been restructured in order for Mubarak to head it.

Ministry of Electricity and Energy spokesperson Aktham Abu al-Ela said the government hopes the power plant will be linked to the national grid in 2019. He said the ministry will open an international tender for the plant and a contract should be decided on by the end of this year.

"You know we have a crisis when it comes to conventional fuel," said Abu al-Ela. "This will be a stable source of energy."

Al-Ela said the Dabaa plant, nearly 350km north of Cairo on the Mediterranean coast, will be followed by three other reactors, tentatively scheduled to start production in 2025.

Electricity Minister Hassan Younis earlier estimated the cost of a 1000 megawatt power plant as being US$4 billion.

Egypt first started its atomic program in the 1980s, but froze it after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the Ukraine.

Mubarak ratified a law in March to regulate nuclear activities as the country of 80 million moves away from conventional fuels amid a growing strain on its power grid and oil reserves.

The Electricity Ministry said in June the country will open its first solar energy plant by the end of the year, which will be among just four in the world with a 140 megawatt capacity.

The choice of Dabaa as Egypt's first nuclear site has however been criticized by some businessmen who fear it will have an adverse impact on tourism in the area.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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