Naharnet

Salam Denies Decision to Dump Waste at Beirut Port as Employees Suspend Strike

Prime Minister Tammam Salam informed Health Minister Wael Abou Faour on Wednesday that there was no decision to dump the capital's waste at Beirut Port.

The state-run National News Agency said Abou Faour telephoned Salam to brief him about the dangers of dumping waste at the port, mainly because of the presence of grain silos there.

But the premier stressed to the health minister that neither him nor Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq had taken a decision to dump garbage in the area out of their keenness on the people's safety and health, said NNA.

The telephone conversation and the assurances they received from Salam prompted the employees of the silos and the port staff to suspend a two-day strike that they had launched on Wednesday.

Head of the Union of Beirut Port Employees Beshara al-Asmar warned, however, that the suspension did not mean the employees would not hold another strike if digging operations in block AB and waste dumping resumed.

Economy Minister Alain Hakim met with members of the union after the suspension of the strike.

Hakim said he is confident that Salam will implement his pledges.

“We will have a catastrophe and we will confront it” if any move was made to dump garbage at the port, he said.

"We should announce a state of emergency on the waste crisis," he added.

Abou Faour warned on Monday that Lebanon is on the brink of a major health disaster unless an immediate solution is found for its mounting trash problem.

Garbage has been collecting on the streets in Beirut and Mount Lebanon for the past month amid government paralysis and inability to agree on a solution after the Naameh landfill, south of the capital, was closed down.

Some residents have resorted to burning the trash on the streets, sending toxic fumes over the city's skyline and into people's homes.

Others are dumping waste randomly in forests and valleys.

The minister said Lebanon's air, water and food were threatened with contamination and called for an emergency committee to come up with immediate recommendations.

G.K.

M.T.


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