Naameh Landfill, Lebanon

The Naameh landfill, which operated for around 20 years and served as a dumpsite for most of the trash produced in Beirut and Mount Lebanon, was forcefully shut down by activists, giving rise to the ongoing garbage crisis in Lebanon


<div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Description</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld"></td><td class="columns"> Naameh is a poverty stricken village in the South of Lebanon known for its sectarian tensions and its citizens’ active blockade of roads over the years to protest the lack of basic services such as electricity and water. The village is also the site of a landfill, where more than half the waste produced by the capital Beirut and the area of Mount Lebanon were thrown over the years. The Naameh landfill was established in October 1997, after the Bourj Hammoud landfill was forcefully shut down. For lack of a planned alternative to the Bourj Hammoud landfill, the Naameh landfill was established at the site of an abandoned quarry as an emergency solution, a dumpsite for waste without any sort of treatment or financial compensation to residents. Over the years, residents began noticing the environmental and health impacts of the landfill, claiming that they have started suffering from stomach aches, dizziness, vomiting, coughs, and allergies. Activist Ajwad Ayach emphasizes that cancer became a leading cause of death in the entire region, as shown in this <a>video</a> shot by activists, ironically entitled the "Landfill of Death".  Residents proclaim in the video that the rich have left, but the poor have nowhere to go and are left behind to die. However, the sad fact remains that no scientific studies or assessments exist on the health effects of landfills and management of solid waste in Lebanon. This makes it quite easy to deny any health consequences of landfills, which is exactly what Sukleen, the company responsible for waste collection and disposal, did in <a>response to the video</a> shot by the activists. Notably, Averda, the mother company of sub-firms Sukomi and Sukleen, has monopolized garbage collection, disposal, and treatment for Beirut and Mount Lebanon since 1994. Averda charges one of the highest rates in the world for its services: $ 142 per ton of garbage. The contract with Averda is an explicit theft of Lebanese citizens’ money that is legitimized by the political elite, especially since the company has potential suspicious ties with leading politicians and was awarded the contract with minimal competitive bidding. In addition, as part of an official 2008 decision to give residents $ 6 for every ton of garbage sent to the landfill, by 2014 Sukleen owed Naameh and nearby municipalities nearly $30 million in compensation [1]. Although the contract between the <a>Council for Development and Reconstruction</a> (CDR) and Sukleen was supposed to expire by 17 January, 2011, it was automatically renewed until 17th of January, 2015, with fraud reported in the renewal of the contract [2]. In response to the unbearable living conditions near the landfill, the <i>Naameh Landfill Closure Campaign </i>was established in 2013 by activists from the region who were demanding the immediate closure of the landfill. Members of the campaign visited Walid Jumblatt, the sectarian leader of the Chouf district, on 12 December, 2013, demanding the closure of the landfill by January 17, 2014, after which they will block the road leading to it. The campaign contacted the head of the <a><i>Lebanese Eco Movement</i></a><i> (LEM)</i>, Paul Abi Rached, and asked for support in closing the landfill after no action was taken by Jumblatt. On 17 January, 2014, the activists from the <i>Naameh Landfill Closure Campaign</i> and the LEM took to the streets and blocked the entrance to the landfill, preventing garbage trucks from passing through. Garbage piled up on the streets of the capital the next day, as Sukleen was forced to suspend its trash collection activities. Uncollected waste blocked sidewalks and overflew into streets, finally giving the story the media attention it deserves, and also making Beirutis aware of where their waste is actually dumped. Two days after the blockade, on 19 January, 2014, activists were asked to meet with Prime Minister Tammam Salam, after which they decided to reopen the road for 48 hours to give the government time to find a solution. The 48 hours passed without any practical steps taken, and with more waste brought into the landfill. After another hopeless meeting on January 21, 2014, with the president of the CDR and interior Minister at the time, where they were asked to keep the road open, it became terribly clear to activists that the government had not planned an alternative solution, and they occupied the road to the landfill once again. Of course, the Lebanese political leaders are rather adept at postponing decisions, from postponing Cabinet meetings and elections due to political tensions, to postponing voting on critical issues. It came as no surprise, therefore, that governmental bodies kept postponing finding alternatives for the Naameh Landfill, or that Walid Jumblatt urged protestors “to immediately reopen the road because the country  is not in need of more trouble especially that major political and security developments are taking place.” [3]  After three more days of the sit-in in front of the entrance to the landfill, on 24 January, 2014, around 300 members of the Interior Security Forces stormed the sit-in and forcefully dragged the protestors outside their tents, and destroyed their tents. Meanwhile, activist Ajwad Ayach was detained under charges of provoking the protestors. He was released 5 hours later due to popular pressure and news coverage, but the road to the landfill was forcefully kept open and garbage trucks started passing through, with a promise from the government that the landfill with be shut down indefinitely on 17 January, 2015, and that an emergency plan to deal with the crisis of waste management will be put forth. Notably, this was also the date when the contract with Sukleen was due to end. However, when the deadline arrived, it was extended twice for 3 months each time, until 17 July, 2015, paying the municipalities $35 million as compensation. Activists kept the pressure up during this time, and protested on the 17th of every month until the deadline arrived. On the 17th of July, 2015, activists and citizens from neighboring villages took to the streets and blocked the entrance to the landfill yet again, this time with anger at peak levels, vowing that garbage trucks would only pass through over their dead bodies. The sit in went on for a month after which the landfill was finally considered shut down. However, an emergency plan did not materialize and trash collection simply halted. Garbage piled up on the streets of Beirut and Mount Lebanon, giving rise to mass protests in Beirut against the entire political elite, after the garbage crisis made it thoroughly clear that the waste on the streets was part of a bigger systemic problem. On March 18, 2016, Naameh landfill was forcefully reopened yet again for two months only, as part of the four-year governmental plan to manage the waste crisis. This time residents gave in, feeling that nothing could be done anymore. The garbage that had accumulated on the streets and in warehouses were transported there, this time with Internal Security Forces and Lebanese Army vehicles escorting the trucks. After 18 years of operation and 12 million tons of trash reaching 20 meters in height, Naameh Landfill was finally shut down. However, with garbage piling up and with no other environmentally friendly solution in sight, Lebanon is in the midst of a serious waste crisis. The fight goes on, as civil society activists and academics are still struggling to force the government to implement an integrated waste management plan for Lebanon.   *Data was greatly reliant on information given by two activists from the campaign, Ajwad Ayash and Fouad Yehya </td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Basic Data</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Name</td><td>Naameh Landfill, Lebanon</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Country</td><td><a href="/country/lebanon">Lebanon</a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Province</td><td>Chouf Disctrict</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Site</td><td>Naameh</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Accuracy of Location</td><td>HIGH local level</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Source of Conflict</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (1st level)</td><td>Waste Management</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (2nd level)</td><td>Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Specific Commodities</td><td><a href='/commodity/domestic-municipal-waste'>Domestic municipal waste</a></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Project Details and Actors</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Details</td><td class="columns"><div class="less">The landfill is the site of an abandoned quarry situated in the Chouf district of Mount Lebanon, located 16 km south of the capital Beirut, and 4 km inland from the Mediterranean Sea, at an altitude of 250 m above sea level. It has a total expected waste capacity of 3 million tons of solid waste and an expected active life of 10 years. In 2002, it was receiving around 2,500 tons/day of municipal solid waste generated in Beirut and Mount Lebanon, more than half the daily waste produced in Lebanon per day (around 5,000 tons). However, the landfill far exceeded its design capacity, and its lifetime was extended multiple times even after reaching capacity. It filled up by April 2001, ahead of the expected date, as it was receiving more waste than was planned. By 2014, the landfill had accumulated around 12 million tons of waste, reaching 20 meters in height in its three cells. Reports only mention solid municipal waste being disposed of in the landfill, although activists claim that the waste also included industrial and hospital wastes, as well as hazardous waste such as paint, automotive used oil, grease, etc.…</div><a class="seemore" href="#">See more...</a><div class="more" style="display:none">Leachate generation rates were measured at the site from April 1998 to April 2000. It was found that average leachate generation over this period was 150 L of leachate per ton of waste, which according to the researchers is high for pre-sorted waste. They attribute this amount to the high proportion of organic waste in the landfill, as well as to the contribution of rainfall, especially since this was during the operational phase and the final cover was not in place. Moreover, although the landfill was relatively “young”, the study found that the leachate produced had characteristics similar to landfills of 10-15 years maturity. The researchers also report the results of a pilot leachate treatment plant which included both chemical and biological treatments units. They encountered various problems in stabilizing the biological system performance, due to extreme fluctuations in leachate characteristics. Per contract, leachate from the Naameh landfill is supposed to be collected and transported to al-Ghadir pre-treatment plant in Khalde near the Beirut International Airport.<br/><br/>There is no official data for water quality near landfills or unofficial dumps in Lebanon. However, a report estimates that, assuming a leachate infiltration rate of 2% (due to the karstic nature of the rocks near the landfill), 50 m3 of water is contaminated per m3 of leachate.<br/><br/>In 2014, it was reported that the cost assessment of solid waste degradation due to methane emission from Naameh is 9% of the national GDP. The landfill in Naameh can be used to generate electricity since it was used at full capacity, which would also help decrease greenhouse gases.<br/><br/>Up until a year ago, landfill gases were emitted into the atmosphere without any kind of treatment. A year ago, however, some of it started being utilized to generate 0.5 mega watts of electricity, which is distributed to three villages, namely AinDrafeel, Aabey, and Bawerty.<br/><br/>Of the 919,897 tons of waste produced yearly in Beirut and Mount Lebanon, the bulk of which was disposed of in the Naameh Landfill, 561,137 tons are recyclable or compostable, conditional on sorting at source and establishment of recycling and composting facilities. This “opportunity loss” amounts to US $40 million for the year 2012 alone, not to mention the savings in terms of landfill area, around US $100 per m2.<br/><br/>Better management of the Naameh landfill would lead to a decrease of 23,272 tons of methane for 2012 and 391,767 for 20 years. When considering the damage to the environment globally, assuming a rate of US $ 13.6 per ton of CO2 emitted, the degradation caused by the landfill amounts to US $ 3.1 million for the year 2012.<br/><br/><a class="seeless" href="#">(See less)</a></div></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Project Area (in hectares)</td><td>30</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Level of Investment (in USD)</td><td>$142/ton of garbage</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Population</td><td>Semi-urban</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Potential Affected Population</td><td>300,000</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Start Date</td><td>17/01/2014</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Company Names or State Enterprises</td><td><a href='/company/averda-sukleen-and-sukomi'>Averda</a> from <a href='/country-of-company/saudi-arabia'><small>Saudi Arabia</small></a> - <small>Owner of companies Sukleen and Sukomi</small><br /><a href='/company/sukomi'>Sukomi</a> from <a href='/country-of-company/lebanon'><small>Lebanon</small></a><br /><a href='/company/sukleen'>Sukleen</a> from <a href='/country-of-company/lebanon'><small>Lebanon</small></a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Relevant government actors</td><td>Ministry of Environment<br/><br/>Ministry of Interior and Municipalities<br/><br/>Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR)<br/><br/>Office of the Minister of State for Administrative Reform<br/><br/>The municipality of Naameh</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Environmental justice organisations and other supporters</td><td>Lebanese Eco Movement (involving 80 NGOs): http://daleel-madani.org/profile/lebanon-eco-movement<br/><br/>Naameh Landfill Closure Campaign: https://www.facebook.com/CloseNaamehLandfill/?fref=ts</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">The Conflict and the Mobilization</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)</td><td>MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">When did the mobilization begin</td><td>In REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Groups Mobilizing</td><td>Local ejos<br /> Neighbours/citizens/communities<br /> Social movements</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Forms of Mobilization</td><td>Blockades<br /> Development of a network/collective action<br /> Involvement of national and international NGOs<br /> Public campaigns<br /> Street protest/marches</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Impacts</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Environmental Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Air pollution, Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Soil contamination<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Food insecurity (crop damage)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Health Impacts</td><td><strong>Potential: </strong>Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Infectious diseases</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Socio-economic Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Loss of landscape/sense of place</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Outcome</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Status</td><td>Stopped</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Pathways for conflict outcome / response</td><td>Corruption<br /> Violent targeting of activists<br /> Application of existing regulations</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Development of Alternatives</td><td>None</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Do you consider this as a success?</td><td>Not Sure</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Why? Explain briefly.</td><td>Even after the closure of the landfill, no efforts were made to rehabilitate the landfill, or to create an integrated waste management plan for Lebanon, which ultimately led to the eruption of the garbage crisis in Lebanon. However, activists consider the campaign for Naameh itself successful, because nobody knew about the situation in Naameh before their mobilisation, and they led a successful fight against local leaders who were benefiting from the project.</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Sources and Materials</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">References</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Study on treatment of leachate treatability of the Naameh landfill<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.geocities.jp/epcowmjp/EPCOWM2002/857-866ElFadel.pdf" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Cost assessment of solid waste degradation in Beirut and Mount Lebanon<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://earthmind.org/files/coed/04-COED-Lebanon-SolidWaste.pdf" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Links</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Article about Sukleen's monopoly in Lebanon<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.executive-magazine.com/economics-policy/dissecting-a-waste-empire" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> [1] Article mentioning the compensation owed to Naameh and Ain Drafill municipalities<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/18295" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> [2] Fraud reported in Sukleen contract<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/11479" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Garbage piles up on the streets of Beirut<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://blogs.wsj.com/middleeast/2014/01/19/government-paralysis-in-lebanon-turns-smelly/" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Internal security forces clash with protestors against the landfill<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/18366" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Several reports about the Naameh landfill<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://mideastenvironment.apps01.yorku.ca/2014/01/naameh-landfill-lebanon-daily-star-several-reports/" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Lebanon's garbage politics<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.merip.org/mer/mer277/garbage-politics" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Trash arrives to Naameh under army escort<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2016/Mar-21/343245-trash-arrives-at-naameh-under-army-escort.ashx" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Activists vow to act as "human shields" during the Naameh landfill closure<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://greenarea.me/en/66898/activists-to-act-as-human-shields-in-naameh-dump-closure/" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Naameh landfill reopens for two months<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.albawaba.com/news/lebanon-8000-tons-trash-brought-naameh-second-day-collection-819498" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Media Links</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Facebook page of the Naameh Landfill Closure Campaign<br/><a class="refanch small" href="https://www.facebook.com/CloseNaamehLandfill/?fref=ts" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Facebook page of the Lebanese Eco Movement<br/><a class="refanch small" href="https://www.facebook.com/LebanonEcoMovement/?fref=ts" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other Documents</td><td><table><tr><td><p><strong>Garbage trucks working at the landfill</strong> <br/><a class="refanch small" href="https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Scr_1.png" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p><strong>Aerial view of the landfill</strong> <br/><a class="refanch small" href="https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Scr_2.png" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> <a class="refanch small" href="https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Scr_3.png" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p><strong>Leachate from the landfill</strong> <br/><a class="refanch small" href="https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Scr_4.png" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p><strong>Aerial view of the landfill over the years, showing increasing environmental degradation</strong> <br/><a class="refanch small" href="https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Scr_5.png" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p><strong>Activists block the road to the landfill with recycled garbage</strong> <br/><a class="refanch small" href="https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Scr_7.png" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p><strong>A picture from the sit-in</strong> <br/><a class="refanch small" href="https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Scr_8.png" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p><strong>A picture from the day ISF attacks activists</strong> <br/><a class="refanch small" href="https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Scr_9.png" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other Comments</td><td>Photo credits: Fouad Yehya</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Meta Information</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Contributor</td><td>Catherine Moughalian, Asfari Institute, [email protected]</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Last update</td><td>08/11/2016</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div>
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