News / Middle East

Mountain of Trash Blights Historic Lebanese City of Saida

Off the coast of Saida, Lebanon garbage spills into the Mediterranean Sea from what is known locally as "trash mountain"
Off the coast of Saida, Lebanon garbage spills into the Mediterranean Sea from what is known locally as "trash mountain"

Multimedia

Paige Kollock

The Lebanese city of Saida is known for its historic ruins dating to the 5th century BC. It also is known for its giant garbage dump, which residents call "trash mountain."  The mountain has grown steadily for more than 30 years, and city residents, tourists and environmentalists say it is a growing source of frustration to them.

Lebanon's 150-kilometer coastline is dotted with beautiful beaches, but off the coast of Saida, there are no swimmers, due to a giant heap of stinking garbage. The dump started in the 1980s, during Lebanon's civil war, when people began throwing out debris from the destruction.  Over the years, it has grown into an eyesore, an environmental hazard and source of shame for the city.

Mohammed al-Saudi, mayor of Saida, was elected on a platform of getting rid of the trash mountain.

"What we have in Saida is really pathetic, to have a mountain of rubbish, nobody can be proud of it.  We will be proud when we move it," said al-Saudi.

Environmentalists say the mountain is a threat to marine life and coastal ecosystems.  Because there is no barrier between the trash and the sea, the garbage often drifts straight into the water, killing fish and consequently the livelihoods of local fisherman.  

The dump is a health hazard, says Wael Hmaidan, executive director of Indy Act, a non-profit group that works on waste solutions.

"Saida dump burns periodically, and the direction of the wind takes all these toxic fumes into the city, Saida, so you can say on weekly basis, the people in Saida breathe this toxic air," noted Hmaidan.

Many residents doubt the government can fix the problem, but the newly elected mayor is taking action. Al-Saudi says there are plans in place to build both a waste treatment facility and a three-kilometer barrier that would keep the trash from spilling into the sea.

Saudi Arabia has already donated $20 million towards fixing the problem, and the Lebanese government has pitched in, too. The work is expected to take two to three years and will cost upwards of $30 million.

You May Like

Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Accuses Russia of Territorial Incursionsi
X
Zlatica Hoke
August 28, 2014 4:07 AM
Ukraine says a key border town (Novoazovsk) and surrounding areas of in southeastern Ukraine have fallen under the control of Russia's military. President Poroshenko says "Russian troops have actually been brought into Ukraine." Despite repeated denials from Moscow, Ukraine accuses the Kremlin of providing weapons and fighters to separatists in eastern Ukraine, toward the Russian leadership's alleged goal of annexing that strategic territory. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Accuses Russia of Territorial Incursions

Ukraine says a key border town (Novoazovsk) and surrounding areas of in southeastern Ukraine have fallen under the control of Russia's military. President Poroshenko says "Russian troops have actually been brought into Ukraine." Despite repeated denials from Moscow, Ukraine accuses the Kremlin of providing weapons and fighters to separatists in eastern Ukraine, toward the Russian leadership's alleged goal of annexing that strategic territory. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid