Lebanon landfill closure once again threatens new trash crisis

Published January 16th, 2017 - 04:00 GMT
Hunters shoot down seagulls that are attracted by the garbage at the Costa Brava dump, on January 14, 2017 near Beirut's International Airport. (AFP/Anwar Amro)
Hunters shoot down seagulls that are attracted by the garbage at the Costa Brava dump, on January 14, 2017 near Beirut's International Airport. (AFP/Anwar Amro)

The waste management contractor for the greater Beirut area has suspended trash collection in Baabda and Beirut’s southern suburbs, prompting fears that garbage will pile up in the streets once again.

A spokeswoman for the Greater Beirut’s waste contractor, Sukleen, told The Daily Star on Monday that the company’s trucks were not allowed to enter the Amrousieh waste sorting facility on Saturday.

Trash from Baabda and the capital’s southern suburbs is sorted at the Amrousieh facility before it is dumped at the Costa Brava landfill adjacent to the airport.

A judge last week ordered the Costa Brava landfill temporarily closed after seagulls, believed to be attracted by the waste, became a threat to civil aviation safety.

The “company is left with no place to put the waste,” said the Sukleen spokeswoman.

Environment Minister Tarek Khatib Monday said he was not aware that Sukleen has suspended trash collection in Baabda and Beirut's southern suburbs.

However trash that was already in the dump is still being processed, Khatib told the local radio station.

"The ministry sent observes to inspect the progress of work inside the landfill," he said.

Waste management in the Greater Beirut and Mount Lebanon area has been problematic for nearly two years.

The closure of the Naameh landfill in July 2015 before an alternative could be identified and put into service led to tons of garbage piling up in the streets, prompting massive anti-government protests.

A waste management plan approved by the Cabinet of former Prime Minister Tammam Salam in 2016 called for the creation of the temporary at Costa Brava landfill and another in the Burj Hammoud area, east of Beirut.


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