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Sidon’s waste used to light up its streets
The waste processing plant in Sidon. (The Daily Star/Stringer)
The waste processing plant in Sidon. (The Daily Star/Stringer)
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SIDON, Lebanon: The notorious Sidon waste dump is finally doing the city some good, as the inauguration of a new treatment plant will use methane gas emitted from the waste to generate electricity for residents.

With the recent activation of a solid waste treatment facility in the region of Siniq, solid waste accumulated in the city and its surroundings is being used to produce methane gas, which in turn is used to produce electricity.

The electricity produced is more than enough to operate the plant, and is also being used to light the streets of the surrounding neighborhoods.

As the facility increases its productivity, the quantity of generated electrical power will also increase.

The Sidon Municipality and the IBC company, which is operating the solid waste treatment plant, began channeling power to the streets in the surrounding neighborhoods this week.

The company Jenbacher General Electric was the party that fed electrical cables along the city streets with power generated by the plant, all under the supervision of the municipality.

The plant’s first objective is to light about 500 lampposts along the city’s corniche boulevard. “The facility has already been feeding itself with electric power. We will not say that we can succeed in providing the entire city with electricity in the future, but we will surely be able to light the street lamps,” Sidon Mayor Mohammad Saudi said at the inauguration ceremony Wednesday.

“Right now the factory produces 2,000 kilowatts per hour and it can easily reach 4,000 kilowatts once we receive more solid waste,” the general director of IBC, Nabil Zantout, told The Daily Star.

“The factory extracts methane gas and transforms it into electrical and thermal energy. Right now, we are only benefiting from the electrical energy it produces and we hope to find factories near us that can benefit from the thermal energy [produced by the plant],” he added.

“The factory receives 190 tons of waste, and we hope that the quantity will increase to 350 tons a day, which is necessary to keep the factory operating in full power. Then we can produce [the maximum amount] of electric power.”

The Sidon landfill was established in 1982 and once contained between 50-60 percent of solid waste and 35-40 percent of biodegradable material.

Plans to close down the landfill were launched in October 2012 by the municipality of Sidon. The site, which contained some 2 million cubic meters of waste, was known to cave in during the wet winter months, spilling garbage into the sea and onto the city’s beaches.

The area also caught fire several times last year, prompting the municipality to make the decision of doing away with the landfill for good.

The dump site covers an area of 60,000 square meters and until recently received about 300 tons of solid waste per day, prompting environmental experts to voice concern that it was emitting harmful toxic gases.

In August, Sidon Mayor Mohammad Saudi said efforts to clean the landfill would require three stages. The first would require installing collection and control systems to eradicate the harmful gases emanating from the landfill, the second would sort organic material from rubble, and the last stage would treat the organic matter with anaerobic fermentation to produce energy.

The leftover rubble would be used to construct a breakwater to create a barrier between the dump site and the new Abu Rouh Port.

The cost of dismantling the landfill was reportedly about $25,000,000, spread over the period of 30 months.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 19, 2013, on page 4.
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