Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. Did any of you see the environmental awareness commercial on the news last night? The one referring to dumping garbage in various places across Lebanon? Well, I would like to discuss one in particular…the tragedy of a dumpsite in Saida. 

In the early 1980s,  a beach-side garbage deposit site was created in Saida. It was always in the open air, and never rehabilitated. In 2008 the garbage mountain on the site was 50 meters high and 375 long. Its contents are an array of household waste, construction residue, industrial and agricultural waste and waste from butchers and hospitals. Do you want to know what it looks like now? Here it is :

 

This is beyond unhealthy. Much of this waste, particularly industrial, agricultural, and hospital waste, is especially toxic. To make matters worse, there is a steady south-west wind which blows the gases which have built up on the garbage mountain towards Saida on a regular basis. As such, the people of Saida are exposed to toxins both in the air and in the sea. Indeed, By February 2008, 150 tons of garbage fell into the ocean as a result of an earthquake. This effects the eco-systems in our sea, the marine life, and puts our animals in danger. Also, it effects our ability to enjoy the sea, and enjoy seafood. Tell me, do you feel comfortable eating fish that have been swimming in 150 tons of garbage?

I didn’t think so.

Nor is it exclusively bad for our health or that of the sea. These emissions go into the air and contribute to global warming.

Where there once was a beautiful beach is now covered with plastic bottles, plastic bags, and other garbage. Even the dustmen, who are supposed to clean trash on the sidwalk, throw the contents of their collection on this dumpsite!  The smell is over-powering; you can already smell it before you see it.  The dump was officially shut down in early 2011, but the site has not been rehabilitated. The people of Saida were promised a solid waste treatment facility, but it is not yet operational. For more on this story, please follow this link: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Apr/09/Sidon-residents-dump-garbage-on-streets.ashx#axzz1Tm2tuEbx

 
 My fellow Lebanese, do we not deserve better than this? People of Saida, do you in particular not deserve better than this? This dump needs to be rehabilitated immediately. The garbage needs to be cleared, sorted, and treated. Some of it can be recycled, some of it not, but it is a health and environmental hazard. The solid waste plant needs to become operational immediately. If we push hard for the Ministry of Environment and the responsible municipality to act, hand in hand with environmental NGOs, and contribute to the clean up ourselves, we can do it. It might not be fun to clean up garbage, but tell me, isn’t it better than living in it? Lebanon, we deserve better than this. Our COUNTRY, our beloved nation, deserves better than this. We can do it!!  
 
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