Trash collection crisis looms in Lebanon as Sukleen blocks entrance to landfill

Published August 25th, 2016 - 01:30 GMT
Lebanon's trash crisis, which abated earlier this year, seems ready to flare up again with different groups blocking the entrance to landfills. (AFP/File)
Lebanon's trash crisis, which abated earlier this year, seems ready to flare up again with different groups blocking the entrance to landfills. (AFP/File)

A new waste collection crisis seems to be looming on the horizon after the Sukleen firm announced Wednesday that its trucks would stop transferring trash to the Bourj Hammoud site due to the municipality's decision to block access to the location.

“Due to the inability to transfer waste from the areas mentioned in our contract to the temporary storage site in Bourj Hammoud, which resulted from a decision by the municipality to block access to the site's entrance, the firm has informed the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR) that it will no longer be able to collect and transfer waste from the aforementioned areas,” Sukleen said in a statement.

It added that it is awaiting “instructions from the CDR in this regard.”

Agriculture Minister Akram Shehayyeb, who is in charge of overseeing the government's emergency waste management plan, had warned Tuesday that the alternative to the plan would be the return of the waste management crisis that Lebanon witnessed last year, which saw piles of trash invading the country's streets, forests and riverbanks.

He also revealed that Bourj Hammoud's municipal chief had informed the CDR that the municipality would not allow the dumping of waste at the site as of Wednesday should works to establish a landfill remain suspended, out of fear that the piles of waste would become a “mountain of garbage” that poses health and environmental risks to the region.

Protesters from the Kataeb Party and civil society groups have been staging a sit-in for several days now outside the site and on August 11 they forced the suspension of works aimed at establishing a seaside garbage landfill there.

Kataeb chief MP Sami Gemayel has recently warned of health and environmental risks resulting from the dumping of unsorted and unrecycled waste at the Bourj Hammoud site, noting that “it is easy to find alternatives through endorsing a decentralized waste management plan.”

The country's unprecedented waste management crisis erupted in July last year when the country's central landfill in Naameh was closed amid the government's failure to find alternatives.


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