The Costa Brava landfill was opened in April 2016, it is one of the two landfills that have been advertised by the Lebanese government as a solution to the eight-month trash crisis that the country went through in 2015. It was a temporary alternative to the Naameh landfill which was closed in May 19, 2015, after 17 years of operation, leading to the accumulation of trash piles in the city of Beirut and its environs. However, two weeks after the establishment of the plan, local residents and activists including the “You stink” campaign, the campaign for the closure of Al-Ghadeer landfill and the Lebanese Eco Movement held protests at the sites requesting the closure of the Costa Brava and the Bourj Hammoud landfills. In September 2016, activists filed a lawsuit against the Lebanese State, Al-Jihad group for Commerce and Contracting (JCC) and the Union of the Southern Beirut municipalities asking for the closure of the landfill. In addition, residents and activists from the Lebanese Eco Movement created a tent at the site preventing garbage trucks from penetrating and disposing the waste. In their sit-in, they requested people to sign a petition to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) to shut the landfill since it could contribute to the pollution of the air and the sea nearby and it could be a threat for aviation safety due to its location close to the airport. The petition got 10,452 signatures; however, Paul Abi Rached, president of the Lebanese Eco Movement and TERRE Liban, stated that it was not useful because UNEP seemed to support the emergency plan. Additionally, many activists declared that the installation of the landfill in the chosen site is a violation of the Barcelona convention concerning the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Mediterranean that was adopted in 1995. Following this mobilization, the Judge of Urgent Matters in Baabda, Hasan Hamdan, ordered in December 2016 the Civil Aviation Authority, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture to conduct a study assessing the impacts of the landfill on the environment and the aviation safety.
On January 10, 2017, an airplane faced a large flock of birds, namely seagulls, at departure. On the following day, Judge Hasan Hamdan sanctioned the short-term closure of the Costa Brava landfill after the Transportation Minister Youssef Finianos called the situation an emergency. Regarding this issue, Member of Parliament Walid Jumblatt also tweeted:” Regardless of what the price was, the waste dump should be kept away from Beirut’s airport so that a disaster doesn’t occur as yesterday” . Moreover, as a response to the incident, Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri called for equipping the Rafic El- Hariri International Airport with ultrasonic bird repellents. Additional temporary solutions constituted of employing experts to kill seagulls, diverting flights to other runways, and putting in field patrols at the runway 16 to guarantee safety. After the judicial decision, the contractor responsible for waste management in Beirut southern environs and Baabda stopped the waste collection activities. Fearing that garbage would once again pile-up in the streets of Beirut and its suburbs, Judge Hasan Hamdan ruled to reopen the Costa Brava Landfill for a period of one week, on January 16. The judge gave a period of four months until the permanent closure of the landfill, thus giving time for the municipalities to find replacements for the dump site. However, in February, Beirut Southern Suburbs municipalities Union appealed the judge’s decision considering that the landfill should not be closed until an alternative is found. Mohamad Dergham, head of the municipalities union, said: “Our demand is to find a permanent alternative for the Costa Brava site and not to have trash piling up in the streets”. On April 21, 2017, the Choueifat Municipality insisted that the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR) mobilizes against this crisis before the temperature starts rising in the summer. Choueifat Mayor Jihad Haidar stated: “This situation has been getting worse over the past week”. Protestors also blocked the entry to the Costa Brava landfill and organized a rally to increase people’s awareness about the landfill’s impact on the environment. On June 13, 2017, while inspecting the Bourj Hammoud Landfill, Tarek Al-Khatib, the Lebanese Minister of Environment, indicated that dumping the waste in the sea is a crucial part of the trash plan. It is important to note that his statement also applies to Costa Brava Landfill since it is located near the coast and is a part of the temporary plan.(See less)