The quarry issue was brought back to the spotlight last month after the Internal Security Forces recommended the closure of the quarries in Kfar Matta until the Ministry of Environment proposes recommendations. The Ministry of Interior and Municipalities ordered a nationwide halt to all quarry operations for one month. This order was met with a strike by the Truck Owners Union that crippled traffic into Beirut for a day. The government then decided to reopen licensed facilities and gave illegal factories one month to adhere to all regulations. Continue reading
The digging and drilling of a sander on private piece of land near the Tannourine Cedar Reserve has caused some major concern. Work on the sander has resumed after it was stopped by an official decision. The dust caused by the drilling has been causing pollution and also damaging old trees in the reserve. The environmental impact of operating this sander is jeopardizing previous reforestation programs initiated by various programs from the Lebanese Government.
The Minister of Environment (MOE) Mohammed Machnouk asked the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities (MOIM) to tighten control on quarries and other drilling activities (including sanders). The Minister stressed on the importance of monitoring these activities in order to ensure all operating quarries has the proper paperwork and licenses.
There is extensive legislation on quarries in Lebanon. Decree No. 5616/1996 regulated the quarry sector and designated the MOIM the responsibility to issue quarry permits in consultation with the MOE. This was modified in 2002 by Decree No. 8803 which introduced more regulations than Decree 5616.
Decrees 16456/2006, 1735/2009, and 8803/2002 incorporated environmental issues in the quarry legislation. Such issues include prohibition of quarrying in protected areas, expert supervision to oversee certain activities, addressing potential impacts on surface and groundwater, amongst other issues.
In 2009 a series of decisions (16/1, 17/1, 18/1, and 20/1) defined license conditions documents required for crushers for gravel production, rock quarries for crushers and rubble, rock quarries for producing mosaics, and sand quarries or naturally fragmented gravel.
Environment Minister called on Monday for the immediate halt of work in illegal and stone quarries. He urged actions to be carried out prevent such activities. It is believed that there are about 80 illegal stone and sand quarries in Lebanon that are causing severe environmental damage.