SIDON, Lebanon: Residents living close to the notorious “trash mountain” landfill in the southern city of Sidon claim the waste is not being properly treated and sorted and that the foul odors have returned.
The claims come despite assurances from the United Nations Development Program and contractors that all proper measures were being taken.
Locals noticed the familiar stench about a week ago, not long after the UNDP led journalists on a much-lauded tour of the site to show off the first stage of the cleanup process.
This involves the extraction of harmful gases from the dump, the sorting of the garbage, the elimination of toxic materials and the transferral of waste materials to the waste-sorting plant. The site is also equipped to bury organic waste underground after it has been sorted.
When The Daily Star visited the landfill site earlier this week, dozens of trucks and bulldozers were digging up waste from the southern side of the dump and taking it to the organic section without treating or sorting it.
Rubbish being dumped along with organic waste matter included car parts, plastic bottles, metals and rubble, among with other items.
The equipment installed for extracting methane gas, which had been unveiled with such fanfare during the tour, had apparently been dismantled.
Suez Environment and Al-Jihad for Commerce and Contracting have been commissioned to ensure the cleanup process is properly implemented.
When The Daily Star asked Hani Francis, one of the engineers with Al-Jihad – which is supervising the treatment of the dump – about transferral of waste from the dump to the organic landfill without treatment, he responded that everything was being carried out according to the tender.
The companies had the right to bury organic waste in the landfill without treatment, he added.
Edgar Chehab, an engineer with the UNDP, claimed the agency had done its own tests that showed the waste going into the landfill was organic and therefore did not need to be treated before being buried.
Nevertheless, residents demanded that the Environment Ministry and Sidon Municipality closely monitor the activities being carried out by the contracting company working in the landfill to ensure it was complying with the conditions of the tender.
A laboratory constructed by a French team was established on-site to examine inorganic materials extracted from the waste, which would then be recycled to make a wave breaker to prevent high tides from reaching the site during winter.
The organic materials were supposed to be put aside to decompose for energy extraction purposes.