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Cabinet approves plan to expand Costa Brava landfill

Friday, January 12, 2018

Cabinet Thursday approved several major steps aimed at dealing with Lebanon’s waste crisis, including controversial plans to expand Beirut’s once temporary Costa Brava landfill and create a new sanitary landfill in Tripoli, next to the city’s old, overcapacity dump. The Costa Brava landfill, part of an emergency 2016 waste management plan, will also begin to accept waste from the Aley and Chouf regions, in addition to continuing to accept waste from Beirut and Mount Lebanon.

Cabinet also approved a Council for Development and Reconstruction plan to establish a composting facility for organic material at the site of the Costa Brava landfill, and develop the waste sorting plants in Karantina and Amrousieh, according to a statement from Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s office.

The additions represent a major step toward reducing dependence on landfills.

The two waste sorting plants are currently working at only 5-10 percent of their capacity.

Work on the plants must be completed within nine months of Thursday’s endorsement, the statement said. If works are not completed within that time frame, the municipality of Aley’s Choueifat may submit a proposal for the establishment of an additional sorting plant at the Costa Brava site.

Ziad Abi Chaker, the CEO of Cedar Environmental and a veteran of Lebanon’s environmental movement, told The Daily Star Thursday that there was something “very weird” about this aspect of the plan.

“This is the first time they ever gave the CDR a deadline. ... Who’s got the might, the money and the know-how to carry out such a project?” he asked. “Most probably [local politicians] got sick and tired of government promises and decided if they don’t deliver in due time, they will take matters into their own hands – which I think is an even worse catastrophe than what is going on now,” Abi Chaker said.

Cabinet has set the limit on the amount of waste the Amrousieh plant will receive once it is developed at 1,400 tons per day – a number Abi Chaker said was feasible.

The quantity of waste dumped at Costa Brava “shall not exceed 1,000 tons per day from the beginning of 2019,” the statement from Hariri’s office stipulated.

Choueifat’s municipality will have the right to use the landfill site once it closes, except for those areas of the site allocated for a wastewater treatment plant. This mechanism of handing over land reclaimed through landfilling to local municipalities is also employed at the coastal Burj Hammoud landfill site, on the other side of Beirut.

Cabinet also committed to launching a tender for controversial waste incinerators within six months.

The plan, opposed by activists and environmentalists, would see hundreds of tons of waste burned per day. Abi Chaker criticized the move, saying noxious fumes and dust emanating from the incinerators would contaminate the low-income Karantina area – speculated to be the future site of one incinerator – even if some of the smoke and particles are treated.

He said Lebanon did not have the “professionalism” to run such a complex plant, saying the project would cost the state at least $250 million, if not more if there is corruption.

Acting Bodies: 
Lebanese Government
Approved/ Ratified
Civil Society Response: