SIDON, Lebanon: Sidon’s infamous dump will finally be shut in mid-March, Future parliamentary bloc head Fouad Siniora said Sunday, as a waste treatment plant that he said will set an example for the country begins to function at full capacity. Touring the new waste treatment plant in Sinniq and newly constructed breakwaters that create a barrier between waste and the new Abu Rouh port, Siniora said the landfill “has been plaguing the citizens of the city and many of the Lebanese ... and we hope this year will be the last when storms damage [the dump].”
Part of the landfill collapses every winter, sending garbage into the sea and onto the city’s beaches. The dump – which is thought to contain some 2 million cubic meters of waste – also caught on fire several times last year, prompting the Sidon municipality to launch a long-awaited project aimed at closing it for good.
Environmental experts say the dump – which covers an area of 60,000 square meters and until recently received 300 tons of solid waste every day – emits harmful gases. Last September, a fire at the dump raged for 2 days, defying the efforts of firefighters and covering the city with a layer of smoke.
The United Nations Development Project is overseeing the overhaul in line with an agreement with the Environment Ministry and Sidon’s municipality. Dismantling the dump, which is set to be turned into a park, is the third and final stage in a plan that first saw the construction of breakwater and the Sinniq plant.
Accompanied by Sidon Mayor Mohammad Saudi, Siniora toured the damage the recent storm inflicted on the dump, where waste was dispersed on the coast once more. He also inspected the first stages of the new commercial port at Abu Rouh, including a 150 meter wharf that will extend into the sea.
Eventually, 300 more meters will be added to the wharf and an area designated for tourism will be added. An estimated three years are needed before the new port is completed.
The former prime minister said that the project “is a unique model in Lebanon, and it will set an example for the correct way to process solid waste in the country.”
He said the new plant is already processing 175 tons of waste per day from the Sidon and Zahrani districts.
According to Siniora, “all of the plant’s sections, including the power production section that will use gas and produce organic compost, will be inaugurated no later than mid-March.”
He said he hoped progress would be made in other efforts to improve Sidon in the educational and social arenas, including building a museum.
“Two weeks ago we inspected a center built to combat drug addiction in Sidon, and we hope progress will be made in this project too. We hope this will also become a model among the few centers in Lebanon that fight this phenomenon,” Siniora said.
He stressed that extensive efforts to raise the appropriate financial support would be needed.