BEIRUT: Lebanon's Cabinet Monday approved a controversial plan to export garbage during a six-hour meeting dedicated to solving the five-month-old crisis, Prime Minister Tammam Salam announced.
Speaking after Cabinet's first meeting in more than three months, Salam hailed what he described as a "temporary and transitional" solution to remove the rotting waste from Lebanon's streets.
"After a period of great suffering, today a large weight has been lifted off the shoulders of the Lebanese people," Salam said, urging political rivals to work together to reach a permanent solution to the crisis.
Massive amounts of garbage have accumulated in Beirut and Mount Lebanon since the summer waste crisis broke out.
Officials had earlier been split over a proposal announced by Agriculture Minister Akram Chehayeb earlier this month to export garbage over its reportedly high cost, although details of the plan have not been made public.
Lebanon has witnessed a chronic environmental crisis since mid-July, after the government permanently closed the notorious Naameh landfill, located southeast of Beirut, with no plan on what to do with the garbage.
The closure immediately resulted in the pileup of trash across Beirut and Mount Lebanon. The pile has since been located in temporary dumps such as parking lots, on the sides of roads, along coastal areas or even in valleys.
The crisis led to the eruption of mass protests in summer organized by activist groups, which demanded the government find a solution as well as solve other problems.
The Cabinet has not met since Sept. 9 due to political disputes. Salam had previously said he would not call for a Cabinet meeting until a proposal to the garbage crisis is offered.