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French Version

Sarraf: 'Lebanon will drown in solid waste'

Environment Minister Yacoub Sarraf warned on Tuesday that the country was facing an environmental crisis of exceptional urgency. "Lebanon will drown in solid waste if we don't implement an adequate treatment plan within six months," Sarraf said in a news conference at the ministry.

He outlined a new plan prepared by the ministry to resolve the solid waste problem. The plan has already been rejected, however, by some Cabinet members for what sarraf said were political reasons.

Forty-five percent of Lebanon's waste "is collected and dumped randomly," he said.

Sarraf said the new plan "consists of burying 40 percent of waste, treating 40 percent of biodegradable garbage and recycling the remaining 20 percent."

An extraordinary Cabinet session was held on Monday to discuss the plan, which was met with criticism from Democratic Gathering ministers because it would create a landfill in their Chouf area of Jiyye.

Sarraf's plan consists of creating six regional waste landfills in Lebanon, in addition to two already present in Metn and Zahle. The plan would divide the country into four areas: North Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley, Beirut and Mount Lebanon, and South Lebanon.

The problem lies with Mount Lebanon, where Sarraf's plan proposes that a landfill should be moved from the area of Naameh to Jiyye and a landfill should be added in Mounsif, Jbeil.

These locations are opposed by civil society and environmental group. Sarraf said each qada, or small district, would treat their own waste, but that the burial of waste would be done in the four regions, with two landfills in each.

In a twist, Information Minister Ghazi Aridi said Monday that the Naameh landfill "is exposing the whole area to great danger and should be closed."

Aridi expressed his opposition to creating a new landfill, saying that the Chouf region was "suffering the most."

In a statement released on Tuesday, Democratic Gathering parliamentary bloc MP Elie Aoun said he rejected the plan to move the Naameh landfill to Jiyye, saying the facility should be closed because the citizens of Naameh and Damour "have been burdened for several years with the waste of Mount Lebanon and Beirut."

In remarks on Tuesday, Aoun stressed the need to "close the landfill as soon as possible," saying the government should "implement plans that take into consideration the interests of all the Lebanese."

The union of Iklim al-Kharroub municipalities said it refused the building of landfills in the area.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the union denounced "the government's plan to transform the area into a waste dump" and urged the relevant officials to resolve the matter.

The minister said that in the 1990s, the government and the Council for Development and Reconstruction adopted a temporary waste-management plan.

Sarraf said the plan consisted of recycling some of the waste, treating other waste and burying what remained.

"However," Sarraf said, "the contractor did not comply with the plan's conditions and disregarded the need to recycle and treat the waste."

Beirut 27-06-2006
Therese Sfeir
The Daily Star

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