Lebanon’s garbage crisis doesn’t only extend to Beirut and Saida. Tripoli has been reeling from its own “garbage mountain”, whose elevation has surpassed the maximum agreed limit of 25 meters now reaching 37 meters. Residents have complained to the mayor of the dumpsite’s dire conditions. The residents suffer from unbearable odors, and are worried about pollution that may negatively affect their health, with some claiming that cancer cases are increasing among Tripoli’s population.
In fact, the uncontrolled dumpsite does not seem to meet any of the required health and environmental conditions and is located on the seashore surrounded by a sea wall. Five years ago, Batco, the company managing solid waste in Tripoli informed the Council for Development and Reconstruction and Fayha Municipalities Union (Tripoli, Mina, Beddawi and Qalamoun) that Tripoli’s dumpsite needs to be closed. However, until today it is still receiving about 400 tons of waste per day. In addition, there are many concerns about its support wall which is fractured and may collapse any time, especially with the upcoming heavy rains and winds. Hence, this will lead the waste disposed into the sea. However, Batco’s site manager reassures the public that the mounds of trash are far from the sea and there is no danger of the trash reaching the sea.
There are claims that the origin of the odor is not the dumpsite itself but the sorting and composting plant that was built by the Office of the Minister of State for Administrative Reform (OMSAR) near the dumpsite. It seems that the plant’s capacity is not sufficient for the quantities of waste it receives. Organic waste is therefore being stored onsite before it is composted. In addition, the site management company used to cover the dump with a soil layer of 5 centimeters, but now, and with the increasing elevation of the dump, the applied soil layer is only 2 centimeters. This thickness allows oxygen diffusion within the layers facilitating the spread of any fire. An additional problem is that the biogas plant that has stopped operation since 2013 is causing the continuous release of toxic gas. Moreover, large volumes of leachate known as the generated liquid from the trash are discharged directly to the sea because its treatment facility was not designed to handle the quantities it currently receives.
The only available solution for Tripoli’s dump is its closure and the search for another site, a challenge on its own. In fact, the municipality stated that after five years, a suitable site was found in Deir Ammar. However, the local population have firmly resisted, a justifiable concern given that most waste disposal sites in Lebanon have had similar fates as Tripoli’s. Nevertheless, experts have stressed Tripoli’s dumpsite should be considered an emergency and solutions need to be quickly implemented before an environmental disaster occurs.