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Egypt Environmental Export Market Plan
Chapter 2-Legal and Regulatory Framework

Principal Environmental Laws and Regulations

Over the past three decades, Egypt has adopted a significant number of environmental laws, decrees, and regulations addressing various aspects of environmental management. In 1992, the Government of Egypt (GOE) published the Egyptian Environmental Action Plan (EEAP), which serves as a basis for national environmental policy. The EEAP identified and analyzed Egypt's critical environmental issues and presented a number of appropriate policy and institutional actions to address them. Although a substantial amount of work remains to be done to refine and complete the country's legal and regulatory framework, the existing laws and regulations provide the GOE with adequate legal authority to design and implement several badly needed environmental management programs.

The environmental management framework in Egypt is shaped by numerous sectoral laws, which a large number of government agencies are responsible for implementing. The most important laws are the following: This section outlines relevant regulatory provisions with respect to air pollution, wastewater discharges, solid waste management, hazardous waste management, and EIAs.

Air Pollution

Air quality and emissions regulations are contained in the Executive Regulations of the Law for the Environment (Law 4/1994), also known as Prime Minister's Decree 338/1995. Decree 338 states that polluting industries “shall be committed towards avoiding emissions or leakage of air pollutants at or above the maximum limits allowed by current laws and decrees.” The decree stipulates emission standards, universal for some pollutants (carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, lead, and other heavy metals) and differentiated by type of industry for others (particulates, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic carbons). Exceedance of permissible limits can result in a fine of 1,000 to 20,000 Egyptian pounds (LE). In addition, the decree contains specifications for fuel combustion and industrial stack heights, as well as allowable limits for indoor air pollutants.

Decree 338 also sets emission standards for mobile sources for carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and smoke for different vehicles produced before and after 1995.

Wastewater Discharges

Egyptian wastewater discharge is regulated by Law 93 of 1962 (and its Executive Regulations, Decree 649 of 1962) and Law 48 of 1982 (and its Executive Regulations, Decree 8 of 1983).

Industries in Egypt are required to discharge their wastewater into public sewers except when they are located outside the coverage area. Decree 649 lists the types of industrial establishments that need licenses to discharge wastewater into public sewers and the standards to which they must adhere to. Discharge standards are specified for the following parameters: temperature, pH, dissolved solids, suspended solids, bacteriological oxygen demand, sulfides, phosphates, nitrates, phenol, oil and grease, and heavy metals.

Law 48 prohibits the discharge of untreated wastewater into potable water surfaces and underground water reservoirs. To discharge treated wastewater into a waterway requires a license from the MPWWR. Decree 8/1983 contains standards for treated industrial and municipal wastewaters to be discharged into potable and nonpotable surface waters and groundwater. The regulated parameters include temperature, pH, chemical oxygen demand, dissolved oxygen, dissolved solids, suspended solids, oils and greases, phosphates, nitrates, phenol, and heavy metals.

Violations of wastewater discharge standards, including discharging without a license, carry a penalty of LE 50 to 100. In cases of recurrence of a violation, the penalty is doubled.

Hazardous Waste Management

Decree 338/1995 requires a license for the handling of hazardous wastes, including generation, collection, storage, transport, treatment, and disposal. The Ministry of Industry is the designated authority that issues these licenses. The decree also contains general rules and procedures for the handling of hazardous waste. Industries are required to maintain a register of all operations with hazardous wastes. Law 4/1994 delegates the listing of regulated substances and wastes as well as licensing to the line ministries (Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Agriculture, etc.).

The sanctions for violations of Law 4 hazardous waste provisions are very severe. Handling regulated hazardous wastes without a license or in violation of a license is punishable by no less than five years in prison and a fine of LE 20,000 to 40,000. Failure to maintain accurate hazardous waste registers will lead to no less than one year in prison and a fine of LE 10,000 to 20,000.

Solid Waste Management

The basic law for solid waste collection, treatment, and disposal is Law 38/1967 with amendments from Law 31/1976. This law regulates the collection and disposal of waste from houses, public places, and commercial and industrial areas. Among other things, the law forbids the disposal of garbage in any place not specified by the local council. MHUNC is responsible for implementation of the law; however, it has delegated this authority to the governorates.

Law 4/1994 prohibits dumping, treating, or burning solid waste except in places specially designated for such purposes by a municipal authority. Penalties for violations run from LE 1,000 to 20,000.

Environmental Impact Assessments
The CAA conducts an initial review of the EIA documents and resubmits them to the EEAA. The EEAA, with the assistance of outside technical experts, reviews and evaluates the documents and provides environmental clearance for the facility to the CAA. The EEAA is also responsible for ensuring that all specified environmental impact mitigation measures are in place prior to the launch of the facility's operation. The developer can appeal the decision (but not the classification of the project) to the Permanent Appeals Committee.

Institutional Structure

At the national level, Law 4/1994 designates the EEAA as the agency under the Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs responsible for coordination and supervision of environmental affairs. The EEAA’s organizational structure includes two operational departments of environmental management and environmental quality and a separate policy and evaluation unit, all of which report to the EEAA’s chair. The EEAA is managed by a board chaired by the Minister of Environment and comprised of a chief executive officer and representatives of six sector ministries, nongovernmental organizations, business associations, and universities. The EEAA is responsible for, among other things, formulating national environmental policy, preparing environmental laws and regulations, monitoring compliance, and coordinating enforcement actions. In coordination with a number of other ministries, the EEAA is the competent authority for administration of Law 4’s provisions for hazardous waste management, clean air, wastewater disposal in coastal areas, and EIA.

The EEAA is in the process of establishing eight regional branch offices to cover Egypt's 26 governorates; priority is given to branches that cover industrial cities. The branches will enforce, through inspections, the provisions of Law 4 and coordinate enforcement efforts of sector ministries, governorates, and municipal authorities. The first branch office was established in Greater Cairo in 1995.

In addition to the EEAA, as many as 15 sectoral ministries share or exercise environmental management responsibilities. Coordination among them is poor, particularly when comparing the institutional weakness of the EEAA with the traditional, more powerful sectoral ministries.

The MHUNC is the competent ministry for the enforcement of Law 93 controlling discharges to sewers. Within the MHUNC, the National Organization for Potable Water and Sanitary Drainage is charged with the design and construction of water supply and sanitation systems in urban areas. In Cairo and Alexandria, these functions are performed by the respective potable water organizations and the sewage authorities of these two cities. The MHUNC is also responsible for municipal solid waste management systems. To carry out its policies and programs, the MHUNC has housing directorates in each of the governorates and environmental departments in each of the new industrial cities.

The MPWWR is the competent ministry for the protection of surface waters and groundwater. It has broad authority under Law 48 to regulate and control sources of water pollution. The MPWWR has promulgated standards for industrial wastewater discharges and has teams of water engineers in its seven regional directorates along the Nile River that perform facility inspections and report violations to the police. In addition, the MPWWR has an extensive water monitoring network in place and has its own laboratories for monitoring and analysis.

The Ministry of Industry is responsible for overseeing the licensing and operation of private-sector industries in Egypt. Within the Ministry of Industry, the General Organization for Industrialization (GOFI) supervises pollution control, safety, and health issues in industry. However, GOFI does not perform any inspections and therefore does not verify whether industries are in compliance with license requirements.

The Ministry of Health is responsible both for setting health-based quality standards and for monitoring ambient air, water and drinking water.

The governorates are authorized to establish environmental management units (EMUs) in accordance with the Local Governance Law which regulates local government administration in Egypt. So far, EMUs have been established in the Cairo, Alexandria, Aswan, Fayoum, Ismailia, North Sinai, Red Sea, and Suez governorates. The EMUs are charged with interagency coordination in environmental management within the governorate. In the case of new industrial cities, specially created environmental departments within the municipal authority are instead responsible for administering environmental policies and programs. The environmental departments report to the MHUNC.

The responsibilities of these and other government agencies are summarized in table 3.

Egypt's environmental institutional framework is affected by the following: Status of Enforcement

Enforcement of environmental regulations has been inconsistent throughout Egypt. Enforcement responsibilities are generally divided between the EEAA and several ministries. In certain areas, enforcement is the responsibility of a specially formed authority, such as the Suez Canal Authority in the city of Port Said. The level of enforcement depends on the power of responsible authorities and the willingness of officials in the governorates and municipal governments to cooperate with these authorities.

Table 3: Institutional Responsibilities for Environmental Management in Egypt
AgencyGeneral ResponsibilitiesAir QualityWater Quality Waste Management
Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency Develop and enforce environmental policy in coordination with competent sector ministries, evaluate EIAs, perform site inspections, collect environmental data.Enforce ambient air and emission standards, monitor air quality.Coordinate with the competent authorities issuance and enforcement of licenses for projects in the coastal zone.
Coordinate permit-issuing ministries, enforce hazardous waste handling licenses.
Ministry of HealthEstablish health-based standards, perform environmental monitoring.Set air quality standards and monitor ambient air quality.Set drinking water standards and industrial and municipal discharge standards, monitor quality of drinking water sources and drinking water quality.None.
Ministry of Industry and Mineral ResourcesAdminister EIAs for industry, issue and enforce licenses for industrial operations.Help industries implement air pollution control measures.Help industries implement water pollution control measures.Issue licenses for industrial hazardous waste handling.
Ministry of Housing, Utilities, and New CommunitiesPlan environmental infrastructure and land use.None.Design and construct water supply and treatment systems and sewage treatment facilities, issue and enforce licenses for discharges to public sewers, enforce relevant discharge standards.Regulate transport and off-site treatment and disposal of hazardous wastes, and collect and dispose of solid waste.
Ministry of Public Works and Water ResourcesManage irrigation and water resources, protect surface waters and groundwater.None.Issue and enforce licenses for discharges to surface waters and groundwater, enforce relevant discharge standards, monitor ambient water quality.None.
Ministry of the InteriorEnforce environmental policy through the use of special forces.Through Traffic Police Force, control traffic emissions and noise pollution.Through Water Police Force, control pollution of inland waters and coastal areas.None.

Law 4/1994 provided a grace period that expired on March 1, 1998, for compliance with its terms. The compliance period may have been extended another two years for individual pollution sources by the Cabinet of Ministers upon recommendation of the EEAA in cases where serious efforts toward compliance have been undertaken. Otherwise, enterprises that are still in violation of Law 4 may be shut down.

High rates of unemployment make the government a reluctant enforcer where enterprise shutdown is widely, though mistakenly, understood as the only enforcement option available. Furthermore, the fact that the EEAA is not the only enforcement agency complicates enforcement efforts. Now that the regulations have been enacted, the GOE realizes that enforcement is costly and technically complex. The government intends, therefore, to focus first on major polluters and assist them in moving toward compliance, while developing a long-term monitoring and enforcement program.

In 1997, the EEAA sent letters requesting submission of a compliance action plan (CAP) by December 31, 1997, to 1,000 companies responsible for roughly 70 percent of Egypt's industrial pollution. Although submission and approval of a CAP would have allowed industrial enterprises to receive a two-year extension on the Law 4 compliance deadline, only 150 firms had prepared one by the end of 1997. A few enterprises that were in violation of Law 4 have already been shut down, while others are bring fined until they are in compliance.

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