Written by Lamia Chedid
Translated by Assaad Maalouf
Chekka sternly rejected the statement of the ministerial committee tasked to explore a comprehensive plan for treating Lebanon’s solid wastes.
The statement stipulated setting up two health dumps for exhaust pipes and four other waste dumps across the Lebanese sea line, two of which are to be located in Chekka, specifically at the National and Lebanese Cement Companies.
By such, the town will turn into a big dump embodying two solid waste treatment plants that cover the wastes of Beirut and Mount Lebanon Provinces as well as the North, whereby each plant will daily absorb a capacity of 1000 tons of wastes and will produce Refuse-Derived Fuel by shredding and dehydrating solid wastes with a waste converter technology.
The chairperson of the Environment Protection Committee in Chekka, Pierre AbiShaheen, commented on the subject, saying: “We agreed on burning exhaust pipes in the ovens of the companies, but will never agree on the waste dump project in Chekka as the whole town stands against it. We don’t want another Naameh in the country and we don’t want to desert our homeland, as what had happened in the Christian town of Ain Drafil.”
Accordingly, Abi Shaheen voiced rejection to the third item of the plan, expressing fear that “the project might be brought later to attention upon electing a president of the republic and forming a government thereafter, whereupon the half plus one voting will take effect and the project win.”
Pierre Doumit, head of the administrative council of the National Cement Company, stressed the company’s commitment to the national community’s stance in the town and its surrounding as “we are part of the community’s web and will never venture in our relation with the community. We won’t support any project violating institutions and people’s opinions in Chekka and its neighboring regions.”
Head of Chekka municipality, Farjallah Kfoury, explained that the project’s idea started since Martyr PM Rafic Hariri’s days, when the late premier sent experts to inspect the dump spot but discovered that the project couldn’t at all be implemented in Chekka. “We notified the Environment Ministry via one of the minister’s advisors and we will reject the project in accordance with competent laws.”
Telecommunication Minister, Boutros Harb, for his part, said during a cabinet session, “It’s not acceptable to solve the wastes problem at the expense of one city and its people’s health and to transfer the problem, which must be treated, from Naameh to another region…It’s not acceptable to make Chekka pay the whole price of a problem which all the Lebanese suffer from.”
The minister said it was enough for Chekka, which has been suffering a huge pollution resulting from the cement factories that badly affected people’s health and registered “the highest rate of cancer cases in Lebanon and maybe in the whole world.”
Harb wrapped up by saying that the town’s people will resist the project and “I will stay by their side in this regard.”
After Harb’s insistence on his stance rejecting the project, it has been decided to reconsider item three of the statement.