No end to crisis in sight as Lebanon's garbage mountains grow

February 4, 2018 14:51
1 minute read.
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Breaking news. (photo credit: JPOST STAFF)

BEIRUT - Arpi Kruzian has lived on the coastline east of Beirut for three decades. But now her balcony has a different view: a massive mound of trash rising on the Mediterranean.

"This used to be the sea," she said outside her home. "One day we looked out, we couldn't see the sea."

Trucks and bulldozers have piled waste at a land reclamation site there since last year. "In the summer, we died from the stench," she said. "You can't control the seeps in from under the doors."

Landfills and dumpsites - many infamously known as "garbage mountains" - have mushroomed across Lebanon since the 1990s.

The mess peaked in 2015 when the capital's main landfill shut down, after running well beyond its expiry date.

Heaps of rubbish festered in the summer heat for months. Politicians wrangled over what to do, and the trash crisis of 2015 sparked a protest movement. It became a glaring symbol of a sectarian power system unable to meet basic needs like electricity and water.

The government has since managed to get the waste off the streets and out of Beirut, partly through more landfills.

But residents and environmentalists accuse it of failing to reach a permanent solution - warning of dire consequences on the Mediterranean and public health.

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