Doctors’ Syndicate highlights health risks of coal
Ahmed Droubi from Egyptians Against Coal and Dr. Hanaa Amer, First Assistant Minister of Health. Photo by Sarah Mourad.

 CAIRO: Out of 100,000 Egyptians, 100-120 will suffer lung cancer, which kills 4,488 people annually, said Dr. Hanna Amer, the First Assistant Minister of Health for Technical Support and Institutional Development at a press conference Saturday hosted by Egyptians Against Coal and the Doctors Syndicate.

Amer added that 75 percent of Egyptian deaths result from non-communicable diseases, and circulatory and respiratory systems failures, according to 2008 figures.

The use of coal as an energy source, she said, would increase the probability of suffering from such diseases.

This conference, focusing on coal’s health risks, was the first time the syndicate announced its opposition to the use of the fossil fuel.

The syndicate also said it invited the Ministry of Environment, which declined to attend without giving a reason.

“Burning coal results in the emission of about 3.7 million tons of carbon dioxide from an electric plant with a generation capacity of 500 MW,” said Dr. Ragia el Gizawy, from Egyptians Against Coal.

Egypt, which has no natural stores of coal, would be completely dependent on importing it, Gizawy said, adding that there are yet no plants capable of running on coal.

Gizawy mentioned that a European study indicated fine particle pollutants resulting from coal caused the death of about 24,000 per year, and 19,000 suffer from chronic inflammation of the bronchial tubes.

Ahmed Droubi, also from Egyptians Against Coal, said Egypt will face a “major crisis” of energy in the next three or four years.

“This crisis will not be solved with coal,” he said, adding that if power plants were to be established in Egypt for coal, it will take a minimum of 5 years to be complete.

“By the end of 2017, new gas fields will be connected to the Egyptian network and will temporarily solve the gas crisis until 2023, 2024. Coal is not the answer,” he added.

In 2009, the average price per ton of coal was $60. In 2010, it increased to $110, he said.

“Alternative energy is a solution. The price of generating electricity through solar energy decreases every year. Between 2008 and 2013, the price of electricity generation from coal has increased by 13%, while generating electricity through solar energy was reduced by 80%,” Droubi said.

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