Philip Issa| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Municipalities around the overflowing Naameh landfill fear the government will not close the site by July 17, as the Cabinet promised earlier this year.

The prospect has raised the specter of a sit-in in front of the landfill, forcing trash to pile up in the streets of Beirut and Mount Lebanon.

A delegation of municipal presidents will meet with Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk Friday to discuss the matter.

Walid Abou Harb al-Aridi, head of the Municipality of Baysour and of the Union of Municipalities of the Higher West and Shahhar told The Daily Star: “I’m pessimistic. The deadline to close the landfill is in 10 days. And until now, the government has not taken any serious steps.”

Ghassan Hamzy, chief of the Municipality of Abey and Ain Drafil, said residents would have no choice but to stage a sit-in to force the landfill to close. “We, the civil associations and the municipalities, are going to tell them [Friday] that we’re going to close the street and close the landfill,” he said.

“We’re paying the price with our health,” he said. “[The sit-in] is not expected – it’s a reality.”

Sukleen, the waste management operator for Beirut and Mount Lebanon, had to halt garbage collection the last time demonstrators blocked the road to the Naameh landfill, in 2014. Trash piled up in the streets for a week.

The Naameh landfill opened in 1997 and was originally designed to receive 2 million tons of waste before closing within 10 years.

The Cabinet instead extended the landfill’s life in 2006, 2010, 2014 and in January this year. It has received over 15 million tons to date, infuriating local residents who fear for their health.

Lebanon EcoMovement, a national civil coalition, Tuesday outlined a plan to close the landfill, saying it would be done by July 17.

But the proposal attracted the skepticism of another environmental group, Green Line Association, who told The Daily Star the proposal was unfeasible.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 08, 2015, on page 4.