Lebanon activists vow to fight landfill plans

The We Want Accountability campaign hold a sit-in outside Electricite du Liban in Beirut's Mar Mikhael

Dozens of protesters gathered in Downtown Beirut Saturday to remind politicians of their opposition to landfills and incinerators as Lebanon reexamines its approach to its 7-month-old garbage crisis.

“We reject landfills, we reject incinerators and we demand a healthy environmental plan” for the trash crisis, We Want Accountability organizer Nehmat Badreddine told reporters from Riad al-Solh Square.

She scolded Prime Minister Tammam Salam and his Cabinet for rejecting what she said were affordable and healthy solutions to the waste crisis for the purpose of lining their pockets.

“We refuse to dispose waste by burying it until we start recycling,” she said. “If there’s a political will there will be a way through the crisis,” Badreddine added

Protesters later headed to Salam’s residence in Beirut’s Moseitbeh, describing his recent televised interview as a “charade” for “distorting the image of the civil society.”

In a televised interview with LBCI Thursday evening, Salam defended Chinook Urban Mining over recent allegations that it had fabricated permits to export Lebanon’s trash to Russia, accusing activists of “looking for scandals.”

“If you can’t reach a plan and handle the crisis then you should step down,” Badreddine said.

Security forces deployed heavily in the area to prevent demonstrators from reaching the nearby Grand Serail.

The protest was called on to condemn government corruption and to urge for an alternative solution to the trash crisis after what they deemed to be an “exportation scandal.”

“Our health is a red line,” a banner held by one of the protesters read.

Protesters claimed in another banner that they managed to prevent politicians from stealing $300 million from the Lebanese people after the trash exportation plan failed.

The state-run Council for Development and Reconstruction canceled Friday a deal with British firm Chinook Urban Mining to export trash to Russia after it failed to present legal documents requested by Salam.

The Chinook controversy came after the Cabinet approved a decree last week to transfer $50 million to CDR to begin its work with the British firm.

“We want to hold accountable all those who were linked to the deal,” a protester said from near Salam’s residents.

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