Reopening of Naameh Landfill Hinges on Jumblat

Sources close to Progressive Socialist Party chief MP Walid Jumblat have expressed conflicting views about the reopening of Lebanon's largest landfill in Naameh in an attempt to resolve the country's snowballing garbage crisis.

Some sources told al-Akhbar daily published on Thursday that guarantees made by al-Mustaqbal movement for the transfer of part of the Beirut and Mount Lebanon trash to the Srar landfill in Akkar and to the waste plant in Sidon would pave way for Jumblat to take a decision to reopen the Naameh landfill.

They said such a move would be temporary and would be accompanied by incentives for Naameh and surrounding towns pending the government's approval of a final waste management plan.

The Naameh landfill, which lies in Shouf district, opened in 1997 to receive trash from the capital and the heavily-populated Mount Lebanon area for only a few years until a comprehensive solution was devised.

But that plan never came to fruition. The valley that was originally expected to receive only two million tons of waste swelled into a trash mountain of over 15 million tons 18 years after it opened.

The government closed the landfill last month, causing a trash crisis that snowballed into anti-government protests in downtown Beirut.

Other sources close to Jumblat, a Shouf MP, told al-Akhbar that the PSP chief would not make an effort to convince the representatives of Naameh and the towns in the region to reopen the landfill.

Jumblat has expressed concern that the protests would move from Riad al-Solh and Martyr's squares in central Beirut to Naameh, they said.

According to the sources, discussions among officials are now focusing on a temporary solution for the transfer of the waste to Sidon, Akkar and the eastern mountain range in the Bekaa Valley.

But such a solution should go hand-in-hand with a government decision to grant towns near the mountain range 100 million dollars similar to what it did in Akkar, said the sources.

Agriculture Minister Akram Shehayyeb, who is a PSP official, is expected to deliver a report to Prime Minister Tammam Salam on Friday on ways to resolve the country's waste crisis, said An Nahar daily.

Salam appointed Shehayyeb on Monday to lead a committee of waste specialists.

The minister hinted during a press conference he held on Thursday that he would propose giving municipalities wider authorities in trash disposal.



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