As the summer heat intensifies, the Lebanese flock to the country’s 225 km coastline. Unfortunately, rampant pollution all over Lebanon has had deteriorating effects in many locations. This has been exacerbated by the months-long waste crisis which lead to over 4,000 illegal dump sites throughout the country – many of which are located along the coast. A video taken by a scuba diver emerged a few months ago shows a large amount of waste at the bottom of the sea off the coast of the town of Jiye, a popular beach destination.
In October 2015, a sea water monitoring study was undertaken by the National Center for Marine Sciences, a research center under the National Council for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Lebanon. A summary of the results of the Italian-funded study are shown below for some locations:
|From the South to Tyre Beach||Excellent|
|Ramlet el Baida to Antelias||Very polluted (chemical and organic pollutants)|
|Jounie to Tabarja||Very polluted (sewage)|
|Jbeil and Amchit||Very good|
|Chekka (near factories)||Very bad|
|Ras Chekka||Very good|
|El Terba in Chekka (near factories)||Very bad|
|El minieh and Akkar||Good|
According to the director of the National Center for Marine Sciences, Lebanon’s sea water is full of chemical and bacterial pollution. The sources of bacterial pollution are organic waste and sewage. Lebanon’s wastewater infrastructure is severely underdeveloped and a large portion of the wastewater generated in Lebanon is disposed into the environment without any treatment. The lack of infrastructure has resulted in “more than 53 sewage pipelines going into the sea untreated” In addition, for years waste has been disposed in uncontrolled dumpsites along the coasts and near rivers, much of which eventually ends up in the sea.
The sources of chemical pollution in Lebanon are factories and power plants that are located adjacent to the coast. Last year a factory in Batroun was shut down for dumping its waste into the sea. This is not a rare occurrence, and as the table above indicates, sea water near all coastal areas that host industrial areas and factories are highly polluted.
This issue needs to be put on the agenda of policy makers. This is not only an environmental and health issue, the tourism sector and thousands of fishermen along the various coastal cities and towns are economically dependent on the sea and if the situation keeps deteriorating, the country’s coast may no longer be usable.