Activists, Municipalities Reject Govt. Plans for Dumping Trash in Naameh, Akkar

Activists and municipalities rejected Thursday a decision by the government to temporarily reopen the controversial Naameh garbage landfill and to set up a landfill in the Akkar town of Srar.

“In line with the municipal council's previous decisions and stances, the conferees unanimously stressed their rejection of any attempt to reopen the landfill, not even for one hour,” the Naameh Municipality said in a statement issued after an emergency meeting.

For its part, the so-called Campaign for the Closure of the Naameh Landfill emphasized that it will not allow authorities to reopen the facility, launching an open-ended sit-in outside the landfill's entrance to deny access to any garbage truck.

“The region cannot tolerate further diseases and deaths resulting from this landfill,” Naameh municipal chief Amin Fakhreddine said at the sit-in.

“We came here to reiterate the decision of the municipality, the dignitaries, spiritual leaders and residents on rejecting the reopening of this landfill even for a single hour,” he added.

Meanwhile, activists and residents took to the street in the northern region of Akkar to condemn the government's decision to set up a landfill in the Akkar town of Srar.

“We won't be a dumpster for your garbage and we reject (Agriculture) Minister Akram Shehayyeb's decision and any non-scientific, non-environmental decision that does not involve releasing the funds of municipalities,” said the protesters who rallied in Akkar's al-Abdeh area.

“We are protesting peacefully but we advise you not to try us and we call for a mass rally on Saturday,” an organizer said.

The developments come after the government approved in a marathon session late Wednesday a waste management plan proposed by Agriculture Minister Akram Shehayyeb.

The plan calls for reopening the Naameh landfill, which was closed in mid-July, for seven days to dump the garbage that accumulated in random sites in Beirut and Mount Lebanon.

It also envisions converting two existing dumps, in the northern Akkar area of Srar and the eastern border area of al-Masnaa, into sanitary landfills capable of receiving trash for more than a year.

Minister Shehayyeb said the plan will also make use of the waste management plant that is already operating in the southern city of Sidon and would also reactivate the Bourj Hammoud landfill near Beirut.

Ministries will also coordinate with the Council for Reconstruction and Development to renovate the Ras al-Ain landfill in the southern region of Tyre.

With nowhere to take the garbage, it has been temporarily dumped in empty lots, on roadsides, mountainsides and in riverbeds.

Shehayyeb warned that collecting the trash before rains began was essential to avoid contamination.

He also stressed that the government is fully committed to the seven-day deadline to use the Naameh landfill as a means to end the garbage crisis.


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