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Environmental Clean-Up Efforts Needed Across Lebanon


Various agencies are working to clean up the devastation inflicted on Lebanon's environment, and remove dangerous remnants of the month-long fighting.

While bulldozers clear rubble from bombed-out segments of Lebanon, various organizations are working to restore the nation's environment and decontaminate villages littered with live ammunition.

The Lebanese division of Greenpeace says there is an urgent need to clean the country's beaches. They have been polluted by an oil spill caused by Israel's bombardment last month of a major coastal power plant.

Greenpeace says an estimated 10-to-15,000 tons of oil poured into the Mediterranean Sea, contaminating wide areas of the country's coastline. Video taken underwater shows some of the impact on fish and ecosystems.

Greenpeace Beirut coordinator Zeina Al Hajj said, "What we've seen is miles and miles of oil suffocating the seabed. This is an indication that the contamination from the oil spill has spread beyond the shore, beyond the water coastline into the underwater. And that is an indication of the urgency needed to deal with this disaster. "

Explosives experts from a U.K.-based company are deactivating and removing unexploded ordnance outside of Tyre. The United Nations sought the help of the Mines Advisory Group, or M.A.G. to remove undetonated mortars, rockets, and cluster munitions, comprised of so-called "bomblets."

That ammunition is making everyday routines hazardous for villagers, especially children.

M.A.G. spokesman Sean Sutton. "I've known two accidents where one child was picking grapes and the bomblet fell out of the vines. Another one with an older, 20-year-old picking apples, again there was a bomblet stuck in the tree and by shaking the tree, the bomblet fell out. Bang, he was dead."

The United Nations' deputy humanitarian chief says some 8500 pieces of unexploded ordnance remain across southern Lebanon.

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