Agriculture Minister Akram Shehayyeb, who is in charge of overseeing the government’s emergency waste management plan, hoped Tuesday that the Free Patriotic Movement will not be allowed to join Kataeb Party’s protests outside the Bourj Hammoud landfill, as he warned that the alternative to the plan would be the return of the piles of trash that invaded the country’s streets, forests and riverbanks last year.

“We hope our friends in the Kataeb Party will not allow the ‘forces of obstruction’ to sneak into their party, because tampering with the country’s health security is intolerable,” said Shehayyeb at a press conference, noting that Lebanon is already wrangling with a lengthy “political paralysis.”

Media reports have said that the FPM will join Kataeb’s protests outside the Bourj Hammoud landfill.

“Kataeb Party chief Sami Gemayel said that 35% of the garbage can be recycled but such a rate is only obtainable when the waste is sorted at the source,” Shehayyeb added.

And noting that political forces and protest movements had prevented the government from finding sites other than Costa Brava and Bourj Hammound for the garbage landfills, the minister cautioned that “the alternative would be the return of the trash to the streets once again.”

“We know that it is not the ideal solution, but let the ‘merchants of environment’ spare us their criticism,” Shehayyeb went on to say, calling on all parties, “especially the friend Sheikh Sami Gemayel, to turn all their energy into a positive energy in the next four years in order to monitor the work at the Bourj Hammoud and Costa Brava landfills.”

The minister also revealed that Bourj Hammoud’s municipal chief has informed the Council for Development and Reconstruction that the municipality would not allow the dumping of waste at the site as of Wednesday should works to establish the landfill remain suspended, out of fear that the piles of garbage would become a “mountain of garbage” that poses health and environmental risks to the region.

“This is their right,” Shehayyeb added, voicing support for the municipal chief’s warning.

“Those who have a long heritage in politics must stand by the State, not against it,” the minister went on to say, referring to Gemayel and his political dynasty.

Gemayel has recently warned of health and environmental risks resulting from the dumping unsorted and unrecycled waste at the Bourj Hammoud site, noting that “it is easy to find alternatives through endorsing a decentralized waste management plan.”

The country’s unprecedented waste management crisis erupted in July last year when the country’s central landfill in Naameh was closed amid the government’s failure to find alternatives.

The crisis saw streets, forests and riverbeds overflowing with trash for several months and triggered unprecedented street protests against the entire political class that sometimes turned violent.