BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt vowed Thursday to close the controversial Naameh landfill by 2015, as he urged protesters to end the blockade around Lebanon’s largest waste dump.
“As the situation in the Naameh landfill has reached unprecedented levels of environmental risks ... we vow to close the landfill once and for all by the end of the extended contract of [Sukleen] on Jan. 17, 2015,” Jumblatt said in a statement.
He pledged that his National Struggle Front bloc would find alternatives to the Naameh landfill and would follow up on the file until the formation of a government.
Some 100 activists have been blocking the road leading to the landfill for several days to protest what they called unlivable conditions around the dump.
After Sukleen trucks were no longer able to reach Naameh, waste began to pile up in the Beirut area.
Protesters say the landfill has been filled beyond capacity and is ruining the environment, as well as making residents sick.
Jumblatt said he understood the demands of protesters but urged them “to immediately reopen the road because the country does not need more trouble, especially given that major political and security developments are taking place.”
Speaking at a joint session Thursday with the Committees of Public Works, Transportation, Energy, Water and Environment, MP Akram Shehayeb called for the appointment of a reliable environment and health consultant to perform a complete study on the impact of the landfill on public health.
Shehayeb also urged that a project be undertaken to generate electricity from the landfill for surrounding neighborhoods.
Also at the joint committee session, Future MP Mohammad Qabbani voiced support for the residents of the affected areas and called for the closure of the landfill by next year.
Separately, Lebanese Democratic Party leader Talal Arslan stressed the need for a plan to close down the landfill for good and have the Council for Development and Reconstruction propose an alternative dumpsite outside of Chouf and Aley.
The Lebanese Environment Movement also released a statement calling for the closure of the landfill by Jan. 17, 2015, and saying that the issue was not being taken seriously enough.
“The Lebanese Environment Movement deplores the lack of seriousness concerning the Lebanese landfill file,” it said, pointing to a meeting that took place a few days ago between caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel and CDR President Nabil Jisr.
“The Lebanese Environment Movement regrets the doubts that call into question the extent of the impact of the landfill on public health,” the statement added.
It said it held the government directly responsible for the failure of talks and the formation of a contingency plan, vowing to continue providing support to the families and residents of the affected areas.
The organization called on the government to use the landfill only for biodegradable waste and create a monitoring committee consisting of representatives from civil society and the affected municipalities.
The union of the municipalities around Naameh held a meeting Thursday to follow up on the issue, expressing its “firm position to close the landfill for good,” according to a statement.