Trash near Beirut airport poses safety concerns for air travel
The dumping of trash near Beirut's airport poses a threat to air travel safety. (AFP/File)
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Public Works Minister Ghazi Zeaiter has warned that the dumping of trash near Beirut's airport poses a threat to air travel safety.
“I have informed the ministries of interior, defense and environment of the seriousness of the situation. I have warned and I’m raising my voice after Sukleen and the municipalities of [Beirut’s] southern suburbs and Choueifat began piling garbage near the airport’s fence,” Zeaiter said in remarks published Wednesday by local newspaper An-Nahar.
He held the three ministries “responsible for any shortcomings that could be detrimental to aviation safety.”
Former Director General of Civil Aviation Hamdi Shawk also sounded the alarm about the danger of dumping trash near Rafik Hariri International Airport.
“Dumping garbage in the vicinity of the airport can adversely affect the temperature of the runway,” he told An-Nahar in comments published Wednesday.
He said the abandoned waste could reach temperature levels higher than the runway surface, which "can change the heat around the runway.”
“Aircrafts are directly affected by the weather and any emissions will affect the air flow above the wings of the plane, especially during take-off or landing,” he explained.
He also cautioned that dumping waste near the airport could attract birds “and this is very dangerous."
The trash crisis began 11 days ago when the Environment Ministry shut down the Naameh landfill, south of Beirut, without securing a substitute location.
A ministerial committee tasked with managing solid waste failed to secure new locations to dump the trash Tuesday and will meet again Wednesday.
The committee, comprised of ministers from various political parties, had reached an agreement Monday, according to which the mountains of garbage would be immediately removed from Beirut and Mount Lebanon by Sukleen, the company in charge of collecting trash in the area.
The trash crisis has attracted wide attention across the internet and social media both domestically and abroad.
The British government warned in its travel advisory for nationals traveling or residing abroad of “higher than usual levels of air pollution in Beirut” due to the buildup of trash in the city.
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