The Administrative Justice Court in Mansoura, headed by Judge Gamal Amar, ruled on Tuesday in favor of reopening the Misr Fertilizer Production Company (MOPCO) in Damietta.
In its ruling, the court overruled a decision by the Prime Minister in October concerning the new plant expansions, terminated the governor’s decision in November to halt company operations, and rejected the civil society lawsuit.
The court “ruled in favor of resuming operation of the company, completing the remaining work and holding the administrative party responsible for the expenses."
The court ordered “the ruling shall be executed in the draft thereof and with no notice,” and for the lawsuit to be referred to the Board of State Commissioners to prepare a legal report on applying the ruling and compensation.
Upon hearing the ruling, company workers cheered, “Long live justice” inside the courtroom, while hundreds of workers organized a mass rally outside the courthouse to express their happiness with the ruling.
On Tuesday morning, hundreds of MOPCO employees had gathered outside the Administrative Court in Mansoura awaiting the verdict. The Daqahlia Security Directorate upped its security measures both inside and outside of the courthouse, cordoning off the courthouse with Central Security Forces vehicles, fire trucks and ambulances, in anticipation of clashes between workers and citizens from Damietta. A metal detector was added to the court’s main entrance and only a limited number of MOPCO workers and journalists were allowed in, while lawyers and citizens were barred from entering the court room.
MOPCO, which manufactures nitrogen fertilizers in Damietta, had filed a lawsuit against the Damietta governor and the prime minister to demand the reopening of the production plant which was closed on 13 November 2011 after local residents staged protests against the plant, which is located in a residential and touristic area. Protestors said it violated environmental regulations and harmed the local environment. The decision to halt MOPCO operations led to the unemployment of over 3,500 workers.
In January, a Scientific Committee under the chairmanship of Raymonda Hanna Assaf, Vice President of Mansoura University for Community Service and Environmental Development, inspected the company’s environmental monitoring, water treatment, and air purification units, and its industrial wastewater and sewage lines, and also took samples of plants near the factory. After examining the MOPCO plant and the collected samples, the committee issued a report in which it said the plant was completely harmless to the environment, and it recommended that the company be allowed to resume operations and continue building new facilities.
Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm