A government plan is implemented to clear heaps of garbage off Beirut streets, but environmentalists say long-term waste management and recycling should be the focus. Jillian Kitchener reports.
Environmentalists say it's a rotten situation... Lebanon's garbage crisis began last July when a landfill south of Beirut, called Naameh, was closed with no plans for an alternative site. Infighting among rival politicians has stalled decision-making, with nobody apparently wanting a garbage dump in their backyard. But now, a possible breakthrough. Officials say a new government-approved plan is allowing waste disposal experts, like Anthony Korban, to move the mess.. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SPOKESMAN OF BEIRUT'S WASTE MANAGEMENT COMPANY SUKLEEN, ANTHONY KORBAN, SAYING: "The estimated accumulation of garbage piled up on the streets through the eight month crisis is about 400,000 tons. We have removed in a record time more than 40% of the garbage." Preparations are underway to open two new landfill sites near Beirut... and the Naameh landfill is being reopened for two months to receive garbage. But it's not a squeaky clean plan for the long-term, according to environmentalists. Journalist Bassam al-Kontar says the government needs to establish recycling plants... (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) ENVIRONMENTAL JOURNALIST, BASSAM AL-KONTAR, SAYING: "So the race against time starts again, garbage is being removed from the streets but without factories to retrieve the waste, garbage is expected to come back again on the streets in the near future." In the meantime, these trucks are in overdrive... trying to bring at least a temporary whiff of freshness to Beirut, amid the threat of the city succumbing once again to the bad smell of politics.