Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. I’m going to show you a picture taken of the tire-burning fiasco that occurred a few days ago near the Bourj Hammoud Landfill. I’m sure we all saw and inhaled it, but still. A picture says a thousand words.

W460

The people who burned these tires wanted to sell the copper inside the tires. So they figured that burning the tires and poisoning all of us with the fumes would help their cause.

My fellow Lebanese, our tires are made of synthetic material. Some (but not all!) of the toxins in them are: benzene, lead, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, butadiene, styrene, dioxins, and furans. Benzene, butadiene, and styrene all cause cancer. Aside from causing cancer, butadien also causes damage to the central nervous system. When burned, this toxic cocktail is inhaled by us, and also gets into our water and soil. In sum, the image above is a cancer cloud.

The rate of cancer in Lebanon is already increasing at a rate of 5% annually. Add this into the mix and we are going to have an even higher rate. This is above and beyond the air pollution, water pollution, and soil pollution that such actions cause.  This is going to get into our food, our drinking water…everything we ingest. My question is this…who do we have to thank for it?

Interstingly enough, when this was aired on MTV, it was said that the “perpetrators are well-known and the state does not need any telecom data to find them.” That’s charming. Well you know what? I want them found and arrested for polluting my country and making my fellow citizens sick. I want them held accountable for handling what wasn’t theirs (these tires were not their tires, after all). I want them to pay for the environmental disaster they’ve created and the amount of lives that will be affected by it. If accountability isn’t sought, then it will happen again. Residents of the area have already said that this isn’t the first time. It will keep happening!

Minister of Environment Nazem el-Khouri said he would form a specialized panel to prevent this from happening again. It’s interesting how he doesn’t even mention trying to find and penalize the people who did it this time. In any case, I don’t know how much power a specialized panel has over criminals, Minister. What we need are enforced laws and regulations that will penalize people for behaving in this fashion. Thus far, what has become clear in Lebanon is that people are able to run amok, commit environmental crime, and get away with it.

Good luck to us, my fellow Lebanese. Sigh.

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