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Mercury dumping in Abu Kammash's water poses a threat to coastal life, Libya

For more than 30 years GCCI has been dumping mercury in the waters of Abu Kammash. Latest studies has shown that the water across Libya's coast is highly contaminated with Mercury and 75% of marine plants and fish can cause poisoning to humans.


The city of Abu-Kammash is located on the Mediterranean Sea. Since 1970s, this area has hosted the General Company of Chemical Industries (GCCI). The waste-waters generated from GCCI are received in the Farwa Island, an elongated sand bar extending from east to west for 11 km, isolated from the mainland by a lagoon (Farwa lagoon) and connected to the sea on the west with an opening of 10 m wide. This area is well known for its high fishery productivity, but also its vulnerability to pollution and other human-made threats to the coastal marine environment.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Mercury dumping in Abu Kammash's water poses a threat to coastal life, Libya
State or province:Al Nuqat al Hums
Location of conflict:Zaltan
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Specific commodities:Plastic, Salt
Chemical products
Industrial waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

The General Company of Chemical Industries at Abu Kammash is one of the largest industrial projects in Africa. The Chemical Complex provides the total demand of table salt for Libya, sodium hypochlorite, PVC, hydrochloric acid caustic soda chlorine and sodium carbonate.

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Type of populationRural
Affected Population:10,000-370,000
Company names or state enterprises:General Company of Chemical Industries (GCCI) from Libya - Dumper of waste
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents
Potential: Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Project StatusIn operation
Development of alternatives:In Zuwara, environmental volunteers are trying to get to grips with the disasters of Abu Kammash. Adel Ashur Banana, an environmental engineer has started his own mission to get the site cleaned up. But the efforts are small, and the volunteering projects are poorly financed, therefore they are not being able to sustain their efforts.
Highly corrosive chemical elements have been removed and stored in Zuwara.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:it has not been a success because none of the people sick or families that have lost loved ones have been compensated or helped. The environment is depending on volunteers without any funding. There are thousands of tonnes of contaminated soil and it will take a large amount of funding to clean, which volunteers will probably not be able to get.
Sources and Materials
Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Mercury pollution for marine environment at Farwa Island, Libya
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Gaddafi's toxic legacy: The abandoned chemical plant poisoning Libyans
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Mercury pollution for marine environment at Farwa Island, Libya
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Marine pollution in the Libyan coastal area: Environmental and risk assessment
[click to view]

Other documents

GCCI picture inside GCCI
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Leaks at GCCI Unknown material leaking from barrels pictured after the company closed.
[click to view]

Toxicity Sign Toxic Sign at the entry of GCCI in Abu Kammash
[click to view]

GCCI GCCI behind barbwire
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Bahaa Zaatiti
Last update08/07/2019
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