Mohammed Zaatari| The Daily Star

SIDON, Lebanon: With the long-term project to turn Sidon’s notorious dumpsite into a proper landfill completed in early July, a new report has praised the recently constructed seawall for having stimulated the re-emergence of marine life. The report, compiled by the municipality of Sidon, surveyed the marine biodiversity and fisheries in the vicinity of the newly built seawall facing the landfill with the intention of assessing the environmental and social impacts of the construction, as well as the ongoing remediation practices in adjacent areas.

According to the findings of the report, an advance copy of which was provided to The Daily Star, coral reefs and various species of fish are proliferating in the area due to the 2,200-meter-long seawall.

“The construction of the seawall coupled with the start of the remediation of the dumpsite has helped in reducing nitrogen and heavy metal concentrations in sea water thus limiting algae growth,” the report said.

“The resulting restoration of dissolved oxygen availability and the improved penetration of sunlight deep into the water stimulated phytoplankton growth and the re-establishment of marine life,” it said.

Sidon’s dump was a major environmental issue in the southern city for over 30 years.

The hill of waste, which once measured 58 meters high and covered 6 hectares of space, was recently turned into three modern landfills. All in all, 1.5 million cubic meters of processed waste has been dumped in the landfills, each forming an 8-meter-high knoll.

The initiative to remove the ad hoc dumpsite came in the wake of a mutual agreement between the Environment Ministry and the United Nations Development Program in cooperation with the Sidon municipality. For the time being, a 30,000 square meter public garden will be built next to the landfills until a green park comes to life in seven years’ time.

“In order to survey the biodiversity around the circumference of the breakwater, two divers from the Environmental Solution Company filmed the nearby area,” the report said.

The imaging carried out by the divers was able to capture the enhanced marine life.

“[This] indicates that the seawall has a positive impact on marine life in the area and is acting as an artificial reef potentially remedying the contamination of the past at the dumpsite and promoting fish and plant life.”

To keep an eye on these environmental developments, Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk will be visiting Sidon Saturday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 02, 2014, on page 3.

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(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::