BEIRUT: Environment Minister Nazem Khoury discussed means to organize the “many” illegal stone and sand quarries throughout Lebanon during a meeting for the National Council of Quarries which he chaired Thursday.

Khoury told The Daily Star that the Environment Ministry had specified new standards which owners of sand and stone quarries should adhere to in order to get a license.

Khoury said the standards were forwarded to the Shura Council, expecting that the latter would approve them within two weeks.

Also, the ministry decided to begin a study on whether a master plan for quarries in the country would satisfy market demand.

In February 2009, the Cabinet of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora issued a decree specifying 16 geographical locations for quarries throughout Lebanon.

Quarries that were operating illegally were granted a two-year period to wrap up their activities before having to commit to the master plan.

The study aims at determining whether the 16 spots have attracted enough quarries to meet market demand. Other options might be to designate new spots or to renew the licenses given to quarries that are currently operating.

“We will brief the Cabinet on the study, so that it can take a decision in light of the results we’ve reached,” Khoury added. “There are many quarries operating in violation of the master plan that require government action.”

The meeting was held at the Environment Ministry and attended by representatives of relevant ministries.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 14, 2011, on page 3.

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(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::