SIDON, Lebanon: The municipality of Sidon will launch Thursday a long-awaited project aimed at closing down the city’s dump.
The site has caused a catalog of environmental disasters and fires over the years, severely damaging the city’s development progress. Plans show that the city’s dump, which currently has more than 2 million cubic meters of waste, will eventually become a park.
The closure of the dump is the third stage in a comprehensive project backed by Sidon MPs Bahia Hariri and Fouad Siniora.
Workers are continuing to carry out construction of the adjacent breakwater, while the waste treatment plant in Sinniq that will receive the trash will soon be opened.
The Environment Ministry and the U.N. Development Program are scheduled to sign an agreement Thursday in a ceremony near the dump.
Attending will be Environment Minister Nazem Khoury, Hariri and Robert Watkins, U.N. Resident Coordinator in Lebanon.
Three companies have been shortlisted to win the bid to carry out the project, with French and Australian groups competing against a proposal from a Norwegian-Dutch company.
The results of the tenders are will be announced Oct. 8.
The project will be overseen by UNDP in line with the protocol signed by the Environment Ministry and Sidon’s Municipality.
“The whole project will include three phases,” said Edgar Shehab, project manager at UNDP.
“Gases and organic waste will be removed first, with the organic waste then being treated. Finally, the remaining rubble used in the construction of the breakwater will be dealt with.
“The goal is to remove this dump and transform it from a disgusting eyesore into a public garden and park for the people of Sidon.”
The project is expected to be completed in two-and-a-half years, and should cost between $25-30 million.
“This is the third and final phase in the project in the path to rid Sidon of its environmental problem,” Sidon’s Mayor Mohammad Saudi said.
The first phase in addressing Sidon’s environmental issues was set in motion by the construction of the breakwater, with the opening of the waste treatment plant at Sinniq paving the way for the dump to be closed.
Environmental experts say the dump – which covers an area of 60,000 square meters and receives 300 tons of solid waste every day – emits harmful gases in addition to other problems it causes.
Fires often break out at the site, which also has a harmful impact on marine life.
Sections of the dump collapse every winter, with waste being carried out to sea and drifting along the coast.
Work is expected to start on dismantling the dump in early 2013. The dump is currently being administered by the municipality of Sidon.