The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) is a local non-profit, non-partisan Lebanese human rights organization in Beirut that was established by the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support for Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) in 2006. SOLIDA has been active since 1996 in the struggle against arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and the impunity of those perpetrating gross human violations.

Search This Blog

September 26, 2015

The Daily Star - Environmentalists to announce waste plan, September 26, 2015

Philip Issa

A coalition of environmentalists is expected to announce Monday an alternative to Agriculture Minister Akram Chehayeb’s plan to bury tens of thousands of tons of fermenting garbage at the Naameh landfill and, with it, to restart the paralyzed waste sector. “We will not ask to reopen the Naameh landfill, and we are not planning to open three other, distant landfills. Our plan will cost less, and it’s environmentally friendly,” said Paul Abi Rachid, the head of Lebanon EcoMovement.

A crowd of about a hundred demonstrators gathered at the landfill’s entrance Sunday to refuse the steps to move nine weeks’ worth of accumulated waste there.

The government retired the overused landfill in July but now wants to reopen it for seven days to bury the trash that has mounted around Beirut and Mount Lebanon since then.

“We are representing the interests of our people in this area,” said Imad al-Qadi, a lawyer and an activist with Close Naameh Landfill campaign. He cited health and pollution concerns and stressed that residents of the area had already twice obliged extensions to the landfill’s long-expired term. “We aren’t refusing a plan to resolve this trash crisis in Lebanon, nor are we saying no for the sake of it.”

Assaad Thebian, a leading organizer of the You Stink campaign, faulted government ministers for failing to consider input from civil society.

“They had months to sort this problem out before the crisis even started, and now they’re trying to force this plan on to us,” Thebian said at the demonstration.

He demanded authorities ensure that their citizens begin recycling their garbage, and he rejected the interim components of Chehayeb’s plan to move Beirut and Mount Lebanon trash to Naameh, and then to other landfills.

The plan, which the Cabinet approved on Sept. 9, consists of a long-term strategy to steadily return waste management responsibilities to municipalities over the next 18 months and a package of intermediate steps to manage the trash from Beirut and Mount Lebanon until then. Chehayeb will meet Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun Monday at his Rabieh residence.

Local officials are mostly on board with the plan, but a vocal segment of civil society, including many environmentalists, have steadily opposed it.

Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk, who has been instrumental in liaising between Chehayeb and municipalities, said in remarks published Sunday that popular consent was key to executing the plan. He said no specific implementation date has yet been set.

“Contacts are ongoing with the concerned officials and no decision will be taken without the consent of the people,” Machnouk said to Al-Mustaqbal newspaper. He described the developments as “positive.”

Officials with the Union of Municipalities of al-Gharb al-Aala and Chahhar, which encompasses the Naameh landfill, have given their blessing to the plan, as have several Akkar officials, on the provision that all its components are enacted simultaneously.

That would mean hauling between 1,000 and 1,500 tons of trash to Masnaa, in the Bekaa, daily, and 250 tons to a waste processing plant in Sidon.

But Bekaa residents cut the road leading to the Syrian border Sunday to protest the plan’s Masnaa component, while Sidon Mayor Mohammad Saudi confirmed his city would not accept any trash unless a new landfill was established to receive the plant’s byproducts.

A sorting facility at the plant removes recyclable materials from the waste stream, for the city to sell in bulk to recyclers, and separates the organic materials from the remaining garbage.

Anaerobic digestion facilities process the organic waste, extracting energy for power generation and converting the solids to compost.

At present, operators are said to bury byproducts and rejected materials – what is neither composted nor recycled – at sea.

“Currently, we are mixing each portion of byproducts with two portions of clean sand,” Saudi said to The Daily Star.

“But we don’t have the ability to continue like this.”

Details about operations at the Sidon plant are murky.

Adnan Malki, an environmental specialist with the U.N. Development Program, warned the current regime could be toxic.

“When you talk about the sea, nothing is sanitary. This is very much in contradiction with international agreements. Even if there is no chemical or biological waste, this is not right,” he said, adding he could not confirm the practices because he has not seen the facilities. The UNDP is hoping to send inspectors there this week.

Chehayeb said authorities would send purely organic waste, collected from produce markets, to the Sidon plant, which would not add to the facility’s byproducts or reject stream.

Saudi said he did not buy Chehayeb’s excuse.

“We are asking for a landfill for everything, not just for the byproducts of the new materials that they will send.” – Additional reporting by Louay Faour and Hanan Khaled

No comments:

Post a Comment