"Beirut Waste Dump Needs Rubble to Avoid Disaster"

Greenpeace Press Release

24 February 1997


Uncontrollable fires could take place in Beirut's huge waste dump in Borj-Hammud, and it could brake up and cause an ecological disaster in the Mediterranean Sea because authorities banned the entry of rubble two days ago.

The Greenpeace Mediterranean Office said that more than 150 trucks full of waste waited many hours this morning before they could dump their load in Borj-Hammud because trucks got stuck in the wet soil mixed with waste. Rubble to strengthen the roads were missing.

Yesterday, fires broke out in Borj-Hammud and in the nearby Qarantina waste dump. Black toxic smoke billowed over Beirut. Qarantina was closed in 1991, but since then Borj-Hammud has been receiving some 2,000 tonnes of wastes per day from the Greater Beirut Area.

"The authorities made a grave mistake when they forbid the dumping of rubble in Borj-Hammud while waste was still being dumped there," said in Borj-Hammud Fouad Hamdan, Greenpeace Mediterranean Campaigner. "The rubble is needed to minimize the risk of fires, to strengthen the roads for the trucks and to protect the dump from sea storms."

"The Borj-Hammud dump, one of the largest coastal dump in the world, needs some 3,000 square meters of rubble every day to protect it from sea storms. A major storm could brake parts of it and disperse millions of tons of waste all over the Mediterranean Sea and pollute the coats of Lebanon, Cyprus, Syria, Turkey and elsewhere," he said.

Greenpeace urges the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR) and the Environment Ministry to revert their decision. The use of rubble must be allowed until the dump is closed in line with a plan to start separating, composting and recycling waste starting next June. The daily tragedy in Borj-Hammud is a warning to the CDR and the Environment Ministry that Lebanon's waste crisis can only be solved with a national strategy based on reducing , reusing and then recycling waste.


The Borj-Hammud dump receives not only household waste but also tons of hazardous hospital and toxic industrial waste every day. The CDR is a sort of super ministry that finances and controls all major official projects in Lebanon. The CDR is also responsible for the dumps and the country's two waste incinerators in the Beirut districts of Qarantina and Amrusieh. Greenpeace demands that these two polluting plants be closed.


Pressed by Greenpeace to solve the problem, Environment Minister Akram Shuhayeb told us that the decision to ban rubble from entering Borj-Hammud will be canceled during a cabinet meeting on 26 February.