To this day, Red Sea resort tourist operators, hotel owners and tourism stakeholders are trying to fight off a gigantic power plant about to arrive in the beautiful, pristine resort in South Sinai peninsula. Worried locals oppose the joint project by the Investment Bank, African Development Bank and top Egyptian Authorities to build 750-megawatt gas-powered turbines on a site 105,000 square meters in size (going up to over 82 meters) right at the heart of the popular resort area of Nuweiba City, South Sinai in Egypt.
Nuweiba is one of the most picturesque parts of the whole southern Sinai Peninsula. It has progressive and unique tourism potentials being the home to two major Sinai Bedouin tribes, and the site for the world’s most unique, relatively undisturbed underwater marine life.
The proposed Nuweiba plant site is located on an area of a rectangular-shaped piece of land of 25 Feddans (105,000 square meters) within a wider uncultivated land, which lies between the mountain far behind and the coastal line of the Aqaba Gulf in front, approximately 170 km northeast of Sharm El-Sheikh and about 70 km south of Taba. The site is surrounded by mountain and desert lands. Only some few industrial facilities and tourist and residential spots are discreted around the site boundary. The Mediterranean sea is located about 260 km to the north of the site and the Aqaba Gulf about 500 m to the east of the site area at the immediate vicinity of the site boundaries.
Nuweiba el-Mazena and Nuweiba el-Tarabin are both adjacent to Nuweiba City – partly Bedouin and within municipal boundaries. Towns of importance in the wider vicinity of the power plant site are Sharm El-Sheikh, Saint Catherine, Nabq, Ras Mohamed and El-Tur. Some 610 kilometers of coastline contain some of the most significant tourist destinations of the country while inland, there are also attractions. Tourism is the single most significant economic activity of the area of Nuweiba.
Na tom je mjestu stanište, koje je danas prepoznato kao potpuno prirodan pustinjski i planinski kopneni sustav. Vrlo rijetka raznolikost flore i faune koja je sada prisutna na ovom staništu uključuje vrste koje mogu tolerirati ovaj prirodni sustav kopna i vremena.
But the project stakeholders argue, the project area is within the western coastline of Aqaba Gulf main ecosystem which is characterized by a sandy extended strip of coastline, with very little and discreted patches of human settlements as well as a very simple system of roads and corridors of roads. The project site lies uniquely within a junction area between the mountain and the Aqaba Gulf. “This location is suited for abundant nature of the proposed activity which relies on water for cooling and discharge. The site with its current land use appears in harmony with its neighboring land uses and no ecological impacts were observed,” echoed the project proponents at the African Development Bank and Investment Bank.
Hotly contesting the plant’s position is Hesham Mustafa Kamel, general manager of the Red Sea Diving Safari in the Shgra Village, Nakari Village and Wadi Lahami Village. He said they should not stop fighting the power plant builders. “As usual, we cannot take a break. This is a new threat as they are planning to make more of these power plants along the coastline. We better kill it in Sinai before we have to fight them on our battle ground,” fiercely Kamel said.
As he said those lines, he sought the need to prepare urgent flyers ‘on this joke happening in Nuweiba and its devastating effect on the reef.’
Na temelju procjene utjecaja na okoliš, Kamel je izvijestio da će se vraćena rashladna voda ispuštati na temperaturi ne većoj od 9 Celzijevih stupnjeva na mjestu ispuštanja. „Termičko modeliranje ispusnog oluka pokazuje da se pri radu s punim opterećenjem točka na kojoj se ogrtač smanjio na 3 ° C iznad okoline nalazi na približno 70 metara od točke ispuštanja. Zona miješanja definirana je na 100 metara od točke ispuštanja ”, navodi se u izvješću.
For certain, there will be grave and devastating effects upon flora and fauna that thrive in the Gulf waters of Nuweiba though the environmental assessment shrugs it all off by saying, “The temperature of the returned cooling water at the point of discharge conforms to the Egyptian Standard, and the discharge as modeled satisfies the World Bank standard of a maximum increase of 3oC above ambient at the edge of the mixing zone (100 m from the point of discharge). In addition, the area affected by the highest temperature increases, and therefore where aquatic ecology is likely to be most affected, is localized and the aquatic habitats in this area have been found to already be relatively impoverished. Outside this area, more marginal increases in the Aqaba Gulf water temperature are likely to create new or improved habitats for flora and fauna,” pointed out Kamel based on the impact study.
Osim nakupljanja prašine na visokoj razini tijekom gradnje i prijetnje uklanjanjem dragocjenih koraljnih grebena i rijetkih vrsta riba, elektrana će gorjeti prirodni plin kao svoje primarno gorivo. Kao rezultat, glavna zagađivač tijekom normalnog rada bit će dušikov oksid. Tijekom hitnih operacija, sagorijevanje lakog loživog ulja rezultirat će emisijom čestica i sumpornog oksida, zajedno s tragovima drugih zagađivača, istaknuo je Kamel.
Furthermore, the assessment group argues that because Nuweiba is at present a small town with a relatively small population, part of the local work force is expected to come from the greater South Sinai area. Experiences from elsewhere have shown that when large numbers of workers move into an area, as is bound to happen during construction of the power plant, problems associated with increased pressure on public services may arise. These problems are anticipated, and some measures have been put in place to address them, specifically the development of a colony – a self-contained settlement for plant workers including housing, water and sanitary facilities, school, health center, playground and mosque – in the project area prior to project inception. A total of US$ 5.39 million has been allocated in the project costing to cover associated costs, said the ESIA assessment team.
Uz to, na južnom Sinaju postoji politika koja jamči tvrtkama koje rade na tom području potrebno zemljište za izgradnju stanova za njihove zaposlenike. Osim pustinjskih nomadskih zajednica poznatih kao beduini, koji žive na različitim lokalitetima i čine oko 17 posto ukupne guvernije Južni Sinaj, na području projekta nisu poznate posebne povijesne ili kulturne značajke. Stoga su kulturni sukobi koji proizlaze iz migracije na područje projekta malo vjerojatni. Rizik od širenja zaraznih bolesti također se smatra niskim, rekli su dionici elektrane.
Na radnoj strani, projekt bi mogao biti koristan za nacionalnu ekonomiju, dok su masovna otpuštanja zbog sloma na Bliskom istoku, Dubaiju i ostatku zaljevskog područja prisilila poslodavce da egipatske radnike pošalju kući. (Samo prošlog petka Kuvajt je deportirao 100,000 emigranata.)
U međuvremenu se vodi bitka između turističkih dionika i programera postrojenja, podsjećajući da je prije nekoliko godina jedna elektrana digla čizmu od mještana. Prije nekih pet godina, investitori u turizmu, poslovni ljudi i ekolozi borili su se protiv planiranog preuzimanja jednog od najbogatijih područja koraljnih grebena na svijetu, otoka Giftun u blizini Hurgade na Crvenom moru.
Former Prime Minister Atef Ebeid and former Tourism Minister Mamdouh El Beltagui were involved. They brokered the deal selling Giftun island to Italian multi-million dollar real estate and design firm Ernesto Preatoni Immobiliare (EPI). They asked for $2 billion to be paid over 10 years. Within hours, from Cairo to Hurghada, people staged huge demonstrations. A mini-revolution sparked to save marine life and the island. President Mubarak stepped in and heard his people. And within days, the Italian agenda went down the toilet. The world-class reef island of Giftun was forever preserved in its natural beauty.
Danas turistički čelnici Hesham Kamel i Nuweiba vjeruju da će njihova nevolja krenuti sličnim putem spašavanja Nuweibe.