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Lebanon News

Proposals to end Naameh protest in the works

  • Sukleen workers empty the garbage bins in Ras Nabaa late on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

  • A woman and child walk past garbage containers in Hamra, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel will discuss proposals to resolve the Naameh landfill issue with local mayors Tuesday, caretaker Environment Minister Nazem Khoury told The Daily Star.

The move comes after protesters near the waste dump agreed to open the road leading to the landfill for 48 hours, a deal that expires Tuesday, in order to allow for contact to be made between relevant officials to come to a solution.

“There are suggestions to quickly address the problem, but there are also proposals that will deal with the issue in the long run,” Khoury said Monday.

Khoury added that there was a master plan for waste that required Cabinet approval and a draft law submitted to Parliament to manage solid wastes, both of which should be implemented in the long run.

Environmental activists began a protest near the Naameh landfill south of Beirut last week. They blocked the road to the waste dump, preventing trucks from Sukleen, in charge of collecting the garbage from Beirut and Mount Lebanon, from depositing trash.

They are calling for the landfill to be closed within a year, allowing only biodegradable wastes to be dumped in the meantime. Protesters complain of disease and foul odors emanating from the dump.

The activists are also demanding that they be allowed to monitor the waste that is dumped at the landfill. Protesters accuse Sukleen of dumping nonbiodegradable wastes at Naameh, violating the agreement with the state that forbids such trash at the dump.

The protest prompted Sukleen to stop collecting garbage, and rubbish piled up on the streets of Beirut and Mount Lebanon over the weekend.

Protesters agreed Sunday to open the road to the waste dump for 48 hours after a meeting their representatives held with Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam at his Beirut residence. The time will allow Sukleen trucks to resume collecting trash.

Proposals to resolve the issue were discussed during a meeting chaired by caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the Grand Serail Monday.

In attendance were Khoury, Charbel, MP Akram Shehayeb, who heads Parliament’s Environment Committee, and Nabil Jisr, Council of Development and Reconstruction head.

The mayors of villages in the Naameh area and environmental activists will attend Tuesday’s meeting with Charbel.

Mohammad Atwi, one of the protesters who will attend the discussions, said that demonstrators would block the road again Tuesday at 6 p.m. if their demands were not met. “We will hold a news conference to announce our decision,” he said.

The Naameh landfill was created in 1997 following the closure of the Normandy seafront dump in the Lebanese capital.

Naameh was initially supposed to operate for six years, but it continues to receive garbage from the Beirut area, while the local community has complained for years.

The activists argue that the landfill now holds 10 million tons of waste, noting that the site was designed only to support 2 million tons.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 21, 2014, on page 3.

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Summary

Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel will discuss proposals to resolve the Naameh landfill issue with local mayors Tuesday, caretaker Environment Minister Nazem Khoury told The Daily Star.

The move comes after protesters near the waste dump agreed to open the road leading to the landfill for 48 hours, a deal that expires Tuesday, in order to allow for contact to be made between relevant officials to come to a solution.

Environmental activists began a protest near the Naameh landfill south of Beirut last week.

Protesters accuse Sukleen of dumping nonbiodegradable wastes at Naameh, violating the agreement with the state that forbids such trash at the dump.

The activists argue that the landfill now holds 10 million tons of waste, noting that the site was designed only to support 2 million tons.


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