Jumblatt vows to close Naameh landfill in 2015 (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

January 23, 2014

BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt pledged Thursday to close the controversial Naameh landfill by 2015 as he asked protesters to end the blockade around Lebanon’s largest waste dump.

“As the environmental situation in the Naameh landfill reached unprecedented levels of environmental risks… we vow to close the landfill once and for all by the end of the extended contract of [Sukleen] in Jan. 17, 2015,” Jumbaltt said in a statement.

Jumblatt said that his National Struggle Front bloc vows to find alternatives to the Naameh landfill that has become overloaded.

Some 100-some activists have been blocking the road leading to the Naameh landfill for several days over what they said were unlivable conditions around the dump.

Blocking the road to the landfill has caused waste to pile up in the metro Beirut area as Sukleen trucks could no longer reach the landfill.

Protesters say the landfill has been filled beyond capacity and is ruining the environment and making residents sick.

Jumblatt said that that he understands the demands of protesters but urged them “to immediately reopen the road because the country is not in need of more trouble especially that major political and security developments are taking place.”

Sukleen is the only company tasked with collecting garbage in Beirut and Mount Lebanon.

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Proposals to end Naameh protest in the works (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

January 21, 2014 12:34 AM
By Wassim Mroueh

BEIRUT: Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel will discuss proposals to resolve the Naameh landfill issue with local mayors Tuesday, caretaker Environment Minister Nazem Khoury told The Daily Star.

The move comes after protesters near the waste dump agreed to open the road leading to the landfill for 48 hours, a deal that expires Tuesday, in order to allow for contact to be made between relevant officials to come to a solution.

“There are suggestions to quickly address the problem, but there are also proposals that will deal with the issue in the long run,” Khoury said Monday.

Khoury added that there was a master plan for waste that required Cabinet approval and a draft law submitted to Parliament to manage solid wastes, both of which should be implemented in the long run.

Environmental activists began a protest near the Naameh landfill south of Beirut last week. They blocked the road to the waste dump, preventing trucks from Sukleen, in charge of collecting the garbage from Beirut and Mount Lebanon, from depositing trash.

They are calling for the landfill to be closed within a year, allowing only biodegradable wastes to be dumped in the meantime. Protesters complain of disease and foul odors emanating from the dump.

The activists are also demanding that they be allowed to monitor the waste that is dumped at the landfill. Protesters accuse Sukleen of dumping nonbiodegradable wastes at Naameh, violating the agreement with the state that forbids such trash at the dump.

The protest prompted Sukleen to stop collecting garbage, and rubbish piled up on the streets of Beirut and Mount Lebanon over the weekend.

Protesters agreed Sunday to open the road to the waste dump for 48 hours after a meeting their representatives held with Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam at his Beirut residence. The time will allow Sukleen trucks to resume collecting trash.

Proposals to resolve the issue were discussed during a meeting chaired by caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the Grand Serail Monday.

In attendance were Khoury, Charbel, MP Akram Shehayeb, who heads Parliament’s Environment Committee, and Nabil Jisr, Council of Development and Reconstruction head.

The mayors of villages in the Naameh area and environmental activists will attend Tuesday’s meeting with Charbel.

Mohammad Atwi, one of the protesters who will attend the discussions, said that demonstrators would block the road again Tuesday at 6 p.m. if their demands were not met. “We will hold a news conference to announce our decision,” he said.

The Naameh landfill was created in 1997 following the closure of the Normandy seafront dump in the Lebanese capital.

Naameh was initially supposed to operate for six years, but it continues to receive garbage from the Beirut area, while the local community has complained for years.

The activists argue that the landfill now holds 10 million tons of waste, noting that the site was designed only to support 2 million tons.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 21, 2014, on page 3

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Trash piles up as activists rubbish deal (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

January 20, 2014 12:57 AM
By Mohammed Zaatari

BEIRUT/NAAMEH, Lebanon: Efforts to reach an agreement to end a sit-in near a waste dump south of Beirut hit a dead end Sunday, as garbage piled up on the streets of the capital and across Mount Lebanon for a third day.

Locals and environmental activists protesting at the overflowing Naameh waste dump are calling for the permanent closure of the landfill, arguing that it has become a health hazard for residents.

The sit-in, which began Friday, prompted the private company responsible for rubbish removal in Beirut and Mount Lebanon, Sukleen, to stop picking up trash just before the weekend. Rubbish collected in the two areas is normally taken to Naameh, but Sukleen said protesters were blocking the road to the waste dump.

In a bid to resolve the problem, a delegation of activists and mayors of villages affected by the landfill visited Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam at his Beirut residence.

“In order to give a chance for the prime minister-designate to come up with a radical solution to close the Naameh waste dump through relevant officials and ministries, we agreed with him that we would open the road for Sukleen trucks for 48 hours,” Walid Qadi, an environmental activist, said after the meeting.

But Mohammad Atwi, an activist taking part in the sit-in, told The Daily Star that not all protesters had been consulted about the decision.

“This announcement does not reflect the stance of all protesters, and we say that the sit-in will continue and the road will remain closed until a radical solution for the problem is reached,” he said. Men, women and children from Naameh and surrounding villages joined the environmental activists for the sit-in during its third day. Residents complain about the landfill’s smell and blame it for causing various diseases.

“I am here with a broken heart, as my 22-year-old son died of cancer and I am sure this was the result of waste in the landfill,” said Mohammad Mezher, one of the protesters.

Mark Daw, an environmental activist taking part in the demonstration, told The Daily Star that the problem at the landfill was getting worse.

“The landfill expanded to an area of 300,000 square meters and is now overloaded with 10 million tons of waste,” he said, noting that the site was designed to handle only 2 million tons.

“We are waiting for politicians and officials to take action and … present assurances that they will soon address the problem.”

In a statement, Sukleen said: “Closing the road leading to the Naameh landfill has forced the company to stop collecting and treating garbage from Beirut and Mount Lebanon.”

Meanwhile, Beirut residents complained about the growing heaps of trash.

“Last night to this morning, [the pile] moved like 3 meters,” said Kamel, a partner at a pub and restaurant in Hamra. “In another two days, the roads will be closed!” – additional reporting by Jana El Hassan and Elise Knutsen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 20, 2014, on page 1.

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