Egypt’s real estate developers are seeing great potential in the El-Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant project, believing it to have a lot of economic benefits for the country, as well as, encourage the establishment of residential projects in the El-Dabaa city. However, safety of residences within the vicinity of the plant remains in question. Invest-Gate brings this issue to an end.

Although some have raised concerns about safety matters in this area, others believe that there are no safety worries whatsoever. “Many developers look at the new nuclear project positively,” real estate consultant Mohamed Tharwat says.

“They are only seeing the positive side of the nuclear project, saying that it will give a push to investments in the North Coast rather than highlighting that there are safety hazards in this area,” Tharwat tells Invest-Gate.

Ahmed Daroub, a representative from  Greenpeace Egypt, an international environmental NGO, has criticized Egypt’s plan to build its first nuclear power plant. “There are huge risks associated with the nuclear energy in terms of safety …we have two experiences — Chernobyl in the 1980s and Fukushima two years ago in Japan — not to mention we will be leaving a huge burden on the future generation in the form of nuclear waste,” says the activist.

On the other hand, other experts and real estate developers believe that hazards from nuclear power do not stop countries from building nuclear plants. As a real estate developer, CEO and Chairman of MENA Group Fathallah Fawzi highlights that there are no concerns about this safety issue among the country’s property developers. “It will be hard for any country to protect buildings surrounding a nuclear plant. And there are several cases of nuclear plant leakages and explosions that other countries could not do anything about,” he tells Invest-Gate.

Around ten projects have been unveiled recently along the North Coast, promising sound investment and ample vacation time. Investments in Egypt’s real estate sector have been growing over the past years. According to data released by the Egyptian Ministry of Housing, combined investments of the public and private sectors in the property market reached EGP 6.58 bn (USD 741 mn) during the previous fiscal year.

Not limited  to Cairo, the current boom in Egypt’s real estate sector has extended throughout the entire country, including the North Coast. Real estate consultant Tharwat notes that until the moment the country did not reveal that there will be any hazards of the nuclear power project and all the decisions are based on studies conducted by the developers themselves in regards to the location of the project off El Dabaa area.

From his viewpoint, “If we thought of the hazards, it would not only be of concern to the projects established in the North Coast, but the whole country as well.”

Mentioning the real estate projects that are currently located in El Dabaa, Tharwat refers to the residential, entertainment projects, including La Vista, Fouka Bay, City Stars North Coast,  Jefaira, and Coast A2 to name a few.

According to him, there are no hindrances to progress that have loomed so far concerning the residential projects near El-Dabaa, as sales show that for example a company like La Vista is making good purchases and selling deals. “In addition, I see that all big developers are eyeing more investments and land purchases in El-Dabaa,” he adds.

At the same time, Inertia CEO Ahmed El-Adawy confirms that Inertia has no concerns regarding investing in the area of El-Dabaa, noting that the safety of the project is guaranteed to the country as a whole by both the Russian and Egyptian governments. “It is not only guaranteed for the projects that are near the nuclear power project, but to the whole country as well,” El-Adawy tells Invest-Gate. “If something is to happen it will affect the North Coast and Cairo alike,” he points out.

El Dabaa is a city in the governorate of Marsa Matrouh, 183.9 miles from Cairo on the North Coast and is served by the El-Alamein International Airport. El-Dabaa nuclear plant is scheduled to operate in 2019. The plant, which will be used for six years, will function as a light water reactor with a planned capacity of 950 to 1,650 megawatts.

In November 2015 and March 2017, Egypt signed preliminary agreements with Russian nuclear company Rosatom for a first VVER-1200 unit to start in 2024.

The project has been delayed for a long time in ex-eras of successive leaders, but finally Russia has signed a deal to build the nuclear plant.

According to a statement by the Rosatom, Russia’s nuclear power corporation, the project has been praised and recognized by local and regional officials. Secretary General of Egypt’s Energy and Environment Committee Alaa Salaam spoke publicly in support of the project, ’The El-Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) will give Egypt a clean energy source. The nuclear power reactors to be installed at the El-Dabaa NPP do not emit gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect.’

The plant, a Rosatom statement reads, will be the world’s first Generation 3+ nuclear reactor, paving the way for the future of nuclear power. “Ever since the world’s first commercial nuclear power plant in Obninsk, central Russia, was connected to the grid in 1954, nuclear technology has been evolving continuously to make new reactors safer, more powerful and more efficient.”

These developments, it adds, have mostly happened in waves, resulting in several generations of nuclear reactors that are typically distinguished. Generation I reactors were developed in 1950-60s and are virtually extinct today except for a few units still operational in the UK.

Generation II reactors, whose heyday was in the 1970-1990s, are still largely running around the world after their design life was extended from 30-40 years to 50-60 years, the Russian company says. It also notes that Generation III reactors, developed to incorporate improvements in fuel technology, thermal efficiency, safety systems and operational lifetime, first came online in the late 1990s and are still being constructed worldwide.

“With Generation IV designs still on the drawing board, the next step in nuclear reactor technology from Generation III is Generation III+, developed to have enhanced safety systems, a longer operational lifetime and decreased both core damage and large release frequencies, among other features,” the statement reads.

Former IAEA Chief Inspector Yousri Abu Shadi has also assured the public that the El-Dabaa NPP design will feature ‘the most modern safety systems’ and is preferable to conventional thermal power stations. He also notes that each VVER-1200 unit of NPP will generate USD 1 bn per year for the country’s economy.

It seems that despite the fact that there are some questions hovering over the safety of El-Dabaa nuclear power plant, Egypt’s real estate developers are not worried and see  great potential in the area for future investments.