UN: Environment must be considered in Lebanon

The head of the UN environmental agency on Tuesday urged those assisting in Lebanon's postwar reconstruction to make cleanup of toxic and other waste a key part of the overall rebuilding effort. Achim Steiner, UN undersecretary-general and executive director of the UN Environment Program, called on international agencies and other donors to keep environmental issues in mind when drawing up plans to rebuild Lebanon's infrastructure after this summer's Israel-Hizbullah war. "There is a whole list of measures that can - and must - be taken," Steiner told reporters at the release of a report on the environmental damage to Lebanon during the war. Two of the most pressing tasks are restoration of water in the heavily hit south of the nation and disposing of toxic waste from factories and industrial complexes, as well as hospitals. An oil spill that has settled on the seabed off the coast of Lebanon also needs to be cleaned up, he said, noting the issues of toxic clean up are more pressing.