Ministers discussed alternative methods of waste disposal during a
Cabinet session Wednesday in an effort to pre-empt a potential trash
crisis, with incinerators at the forefront of suggested solutions to
Lebanon’s recurring garbage woes. “If incinerators are to be used then
of course environmental impact studies will be made, a lot of
technological developments have taken place since the 1990s and we will
be applying them,” Environment Minister Tarek Khatib told The Daily
Star. “We are looking into an overarching study that would include all
aspects of the solution. ... The plan will be announced soon.”
he was entering the session at the Grand Serail, Minister for the
Displaced Talal Arslan said that the Cabinet was looking at importing
incinerators and establishing so-called advanced factories. Beirut Mayor
Jamal Itani had also said earlier that his administration would be
seeking to employ incinerators to safely dispose of the capital’s waste. Lebanon
is bound by the Stockholm Convention that aims to reduce and eliminate
the emission of persistent organic pollutants. The pollutants are
produced through thermal processes involving organic matter and
Years of inadequate waste management have made locals
distrustful of government plans around the issue, potentially rendering
any new plans subject to extra public scrutiny.
In 1997 an
incinerator located in the Amrousieh suburb of Beirut was burned down by
residents protesting the toxic emissions produced by the site.
did not reveal any details of the government’s new plan, emphasizing
that the decision to announce the solution belongs to Prime Minister
Saad Hariri. Khatib also dismissed fears that the government would not
be able agree on a solution before the Costa Brava landfill in south
Beirut is closed.
Baabda Judge for Urgent Matters Hasan Hamdan
Tuesday ordered the controversial Costa Brava landfill to be shut down
within four months, sparking fears that trash would once again pile up
in the streets as it did during the 2015 garbage crisis that took the
government eight months to resolve.
The four-month period was
provided to allow time for an alternate site to be found. The Costa
Brava landfill had attracted seagulls that were shown to be a threat to
civil aviation safety after one was sucked into a plane’s motor as it
made its decent into Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport in
Yet Khatib seemed confident that citizens will never
again suffer the stench of failed waste management policies. “The crisis
will not come back, a decision has been made by the prime minister and
the Cabinet that the garbage will not return to the streets,” he said.
However, sourcing a location for the new incinerators and landfills remains a considerable obstacle.
Prime Minister Tammam Salam’s government encountered a similar
stumbling block during the 2015 trash crisis, when Lebanese across the
country refused to have landfills established in their neighborhoods. In
July 2015, the Naameh landfill near Beirut was closed without a viable
alternative in place, resulting in garbage piling up in the streets and
sparking massive anti-government protests in the capital.
management plan, approved by Salam’s Cabinet in 2016, called for the
creation of the temporary landfill at Costa Brava and another in the
Burj Hammoud area, east of Beirut, a decision that has been heavily
Information Minister Melhem Riachi told reporters
after the Cabinet session that ministers will modify the trash plan
adopted by Salam’s Cabinet, adding that “we will not allow Lebanon to
sink in trash again.” Economy Minister Raed Khoury did not attend the
As the ministers convened, women rallied outside in Riad
al-Solh Square, demanding a greater role for women in Lebanese politics
and calling on officials to fulfill their promises on the adoption of a
women’s quota in upcoming parliamentary elections.
“There will be no elections without a 30 percent quota of seats for women in parliamentary elections,” protesters chanted.
More than 150 women were present at the demonstration and were joined by Minister of State for Women’s Affairs Jean Ogasapian.
National Coalition to Support the Establishment of Women’s Political
Participation in Lebanon was among the groups campaigning for an
increased role for women in political representation.
Only four of
the 128 sitting lawmakers are female, and the 30-member Cabinet
includes just one woman, the Minister of State for Administrative
Development Inaya Ezzeddine.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 02, 2017, on page 2.