Last year, Sidon Municipality, with support from the Ministry of Environment and the United Nations Development Programme, embarked on a project that would get rid of its infamous garbage mountain, aiming to replace it with a 35,000 square meter park. The land had been used as a dump site since 1982 and received about 300 tons of waste a day until it became the great eye sore of the coast of Sidon.
A year later, the mountain is finally gone, and despite earlier complaints that the waste was being mismanaged, the Environment Minister Mohammed Machnouk claims that the rehabilitation process met international standards: “All the works in Sidon’s dump site rehabilitation project adheres to the instructions of the Environment Protection Agency and meets the French environmental standards.”
There are some critics however. Environmental expert Ziad Abu Shaker describes the accomplishment as a “project of environmental destruction”. Abu Shaker argues that the waste was thrown into the sea without sorting and that the project itself was only implemented to score political points. There are also claims that the former Minister of Environment’s approval of the environmental impact assessment study for the project was not based on sound environmental criteria.
Residents in the nearby areas may disagree and are impressed with the work done: “I can’t believe that the dump has been removed. It’s a tremendous job; we are no longer bothered by the smell or fires”.