Titan Cement lawsuit (re air pollution, Egypt)

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On 3 January 2016, residents of the Wadi al-Qamar area filed a lawsuit at the Egyptian Administrative Court challenging the use of coal by Alexandria Portland Cement Company (part of Titan Cement Egypt).

Titan Cement Egypt/Alexandria Portland is located in Wadi al-Qamar, in Western Alexandria.  Some of the production facilities of the company are adjacent to residential areas, with less than 10 metres separating it from some houses.  The North-West wind direction blows the factory' emissions to the residents' houses.  For several years, residents have lodged complaints with the government and with the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), the independent recourse mechanism for the International Finance Corporation (IFC) which provided funds to Titan Cement Egypt/Alexandria Portland to expand its cement manufacturing in Egypt.  The residents complained primarily about the gas and dust emissions from the company's kilns.  Residents are now under a more egregious threat as a result of the company's decision to use coal instead of natural gas as its energy source.

The lawsuit requests the court to annul the decision of the Prime Minister to amend the Executive Regulations of the Environment Law, which allowed for the use of coal in residential areas, in "cases of necessity and where it serves the public good", removing the older blanket prohibition.  The claim also requests the invalidation of the decision to allow Titan Cement Egypt/Alexandria Portland to use coal in its cement production.  The legal submissions, published by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, claim that the decision violates various provisions of the Egyptian Constitution, the Environment Law and binding international agreements, and must therefore be annulled.  The submissions also claim that the decision lacks a "reason" as required by Egyptian Administrative Law, exhibits signs of "administrative perversion," and do not serve the public good.

Titan Cement Egypt maintains that it made investments of EGP 451 million, which contributed to dramatically reducing dust emissions, below legally specified standards and even below the European standards.  The company stated that it tasked an independent third party with implementation of an environmental and social impact assessment before converting to the use of coal. According to Titan Cement Egypt, an investigations committee formed by the Ministry of Environment found that recorded health cases are within the average range of the country.

On 18 January 2018, the Dekhelia Misdemeanor Court of Alexandria held that the company was responsible for causing environmental pollution and health damage among Wadi al-Qamar residents.  The company appealed the decision.  On 21 March 2018, the appellate court upheld the 18 January judgement.

 

- Titan Cement in Wadi al-Qamar convicted of causing environmental and health harm, Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, 25 March 2018
- In response to lawsuit, Environment Minister says coal is being used within strict measures, Menan Khater, Daily News Egypt, 12 Jan 2016
Lawsuit against Titan Cement Factory in Alexandria for using coal, Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, 11 Jan 2016

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Lawsuit
6 April 2018

Egyptian court finds TITAN Cement guilty of causing pollution and violating right to health in rare conviction

Author: Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights

[A] judgment issued by the Dekheila Appellate Misdemeanor Court on March 21, 2018 […] found Alexandria Portland Cement -Titan guilty of causing environmental pollution and violating the neighboring residents’ right to health […]The prosecution accused the CEO of Alexandria Portland Cement in his capacity as the chief responsible party with three charges […] failure to take precautions and measures necessary to prevent the emission of pollutants into the air, failure to take measures pertaining to the disposal and production of hazardous materials, and causing harm to the victims because of negligence, wanton behavior, and a failure to comply with laws and regulations. On 18th of January 2018 the misdemeanor court convicted the CEO of Alexandria Portland Cement on all charges, fining him LE20,000 for each of the first and second charges and LE200 for the third charge together with referring the civil suit to the competent court. The company’s lawyers appealed the judgment, and on March 21, the Dekheila Appellate Misdemeanor Court upheld the earlier judgment.

[…] The judgment is particularly important because current environmental laws and regulations allow heavy polluting industries such as cement and coal-powered plants to operate in residential areas, which represents a severe threat to the health and safety of the neighboring communities. While welcoming the judgment, EIPR noted that it remains the exception due to the legal difficulty of proving the environmental violations by factories. 

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Article
12 January 2016

In response to lawsuit, Environment Minister says coal is being used within strict measures

Author: Menan Khater, Daily News Egypt

Minister of Environment Khaled Fahmy said he welcomes any lawsuits filed against him from the Alexandria district of Wady Al-Qamar…A lawsuit was filed by the residents of Wady El-Qamar, Alexandria against Fahmy, the Alexandria governor, and Titan Cement Egypt for using coal in their cement production. The use of coal creates highly hazardous emissions, given that the group’s cement plant is located only about 10 metres away from the residential block…Fahmy said the ministry previously sent two committees to examine the problem. The committee however claimed that the pollution is coming from increased truck traffic on unpaved roads and not from Titan. He also said the ministry has previously offered the families alternatives to leave the area, which they refused…“We visited the Respiratory Hospital in Alexandria with a random group of families form the neighbourhood. It turned out that all of them were sick with respiratory problems due to the factory’s emissions, according to their medical reports.” [said a resident]…

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Article
11 January 2016

Lawsuit against Titan Cement Factory in Alexandria for using coal

Author: Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights

Community members of Wadi el-Qamar in Alexandria filed a lawsuit against Alexandria Portland Cement Factory (Titan) because the factory operating in the heart of a large residential area uses coal for fuel, which aggravates the already existing environmental pollution from cement dust. This indeed intensifies health and environment problems that have a toll on the area. In the lawsuit filed before administrative courts in Alexandria, 3 Jan.2016, the community filed charges against the factory administration, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Environment, and the Governor of Alexandria. They demanded the suspension of execution and revocation of the environmental decision permitting the factory to use coal. They also demanded suspension of the execution and revocation of the Prime Minister’s decree amending the executive statutes implementing the Environment Law, permitting the use of coal in factories in residential areas…There are many complaints and cases already filed against the factory as a result of the cement dust that caused high incidence of chest infections and asthma among adults and children…

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