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

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid