Protesters staged a new rally on Friday in the northern Akkar district to reject government plans to set up a “sanitary landfill” in the town of Srar, as the ministers of agriculture and interior held a meeting with the region’s MPs and municipal chiefs to explain the project to them.

The sit-in that was held in the square of Halba was organized by the Akkar is Not a Dumpster campaign, civil society groups, and a number of cultural, educational and social figures.

Protesters slammed the decision to dump garbage in Srar and carried banners criticizing the ruling class and the region’s current and former MPs.

They threatened to dump garbage outside the homes of officials if authorities send waste trucks to their region.

The demonstrators also warned to take other “escalatory measures” to “prevent this environmental disaster that the political class is plotting against the region,” noting that Akkar “has offered and sacrificed a lot for the sake of Lebanon.”

Meanwhile a meeting was held in Beirut between Agriculture Minister Akram Shehayyeb, Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq and a number of Akkar MPs, municipal chiefs, dignitaries, civil society representatives and environmentalists.

During the meeting, Shehayyeb, Mashnouq and a number of experts explained and clarified the government’s plan to set up a so-called sanitary landfill in Srar.

“We stressed the importance of partnership between civil society and the state and this plan might be the last chance to resolve the garbage crisis,” said Shehayyeb after the meeting.

Meanwhile, the municipal union of towns in the vicinity of the controversial Naameh landfill announced its approval of Shehayyeb’s proposal to reopen the facility for seven days to dump the trash that has been accumulating in Beirut and Mount Lebanon since the dumpsite’s July 17 closure.

The union, however, insisted that other landfills cited in the minister’s plan must be also activated at the same time.

Later in the day, the so-called Campaign for the Closure of the Naameh Landfill, which comprises activists and residents, reiterated its rejection of any temporary reopening of the site.

“We reject the entry of 150,000 tons of rotten garbage into the landfill under the excuse that there is no alternative solution,” it said in a statement recited at a sit-in outside the facility’s entrance.

“This same excuse was the reason behind 17 years of extension,” the campaign noted.

It also condemned Shehayyeb’s committee for “failing to discuss the alternative solution that was proposed by the Lebanon Eco Movement, which is based on distributing the waste to the districts’ sorting centers, a solution that is less costly than that envisioned by the plan.”

Shehayyeb has stressed that only partnership between authorities and the civil society would guarantee the success of the committee tasked with resolving the country’s two-month long waste crisis.

A plan devised by Shehayyeb and a team of experts calls for reopening the Naameh landfill, which was closed in mid-July, for seven days to dump the garbage that accumulated in random sites in Beirut and Mount Lebanon.

It also envisions converting two existing dumps, in the northern Akkar area of Srar and the eastern border area of al-Masnaa, into sanitary landfills capable of receiving trash for more than a year.

However, Shehayyeb announced Thursday that the ministerial waste committee has dismissed the possibility of opening a landfill in the al-Masaa area in the eastern Bekaa valley because geological reports have shown that it will affect the ground water.

After he announced his plan last week, the civil society and local residents of Akkar, Naameh, Majdal Anjar, and Burj Hammoud protested against the step.

Environmentalists fear the crisis could degenerate to the point where garbage as well as sewage will simply overflow into the sea from riverbeds as winter rains return.

The health ministry has warned that garbage scattered by seasonal winds could also block Lebanon’s drainage system.