Trash pickup resumes in Lebanon, ending eight-month crisis

March 19, 2016

NAAMEH, Lebanon (AP) — Sanitation workers began removing mountains of trash from the suburbs of Beirut on Saturday in what residents hoped would mark the end of Lebanon’s eight-month garbage crisis. Early in the day, dozens of trucks started carrying trash to the Naameh landfill just south of the capital, one of three landfills opened as part of a temporary solution announced by the government a week ago.

As garbage began piling up in Beirut last year, protesters formed the “You Stink” movement, demanding sweeping reform in Lebanon’s government. Since the peaks of the protest in the summer, authorities managed to blunt the public anger by ensuring that the streets of Beirut were kept relatively garbage-free. However, the trash was instead pushed to the city’s periphery, where it piled up along roadsides and the banks of the Beirut River.

The government said last week that Naameh, the country’s main landfill, will open again for just two months. The crisis began in July, when the Naameh landfill was scheduled to close with no realistic alternatives; Naameh area residents said the dump was over capacity and began blocking the roads to prevent garbage trucks from reaching it.

Despite anger by residents, there were no protests against the reopening of the landfill on Saturday. In the north Beirut suburb of Jdaideh, home to one of the largest trash piles, a bulldozer loaded thousands of trash bags into trucks. Fadwa Saad had to put a mask to avoid the smell of the trash that could be seen from her balcony.

“We are coughing, we have allergies and there are mosquitoes and flies in our homes,” she said. “They say they are removing trash. We hope that they really remove it, not only do it for one day and leave the rest.”

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