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AKKAR

Residents hospitalized due to smoke from Srar landfill fire

On Monday, a dozen residents of the villages of Srar and Qachlak in Akkar were briefly hospitalized.

Residents hospitalized due to smoke from Srar landfill fire

Toxic smoke fills the villages near the Srar landfill site in Akkar. (Credit: Michel Hallak/OLJ)

For the third consecutive day, the Srar landfill in Akkar emitted significant smoke on Tuesday following a fire at the site, endangering the health of nearby residents, according to our correspondent in the area, citing residents and local authorities.

"An environmental massacre," declared Abdallah Sakr, a member of Qachlak's municipal council, a village near the landfill, noting that no administrative, governmental, or parliamentary measures have been taken despite the landfill's location near Lebanon's second-largest agricultural plain.

On Monday evening, the air in the two nearby villages was so suffocating that a dozen people with respiratory difficulties went to the nearest hospital emergency room. "They received oxygen and necessary care before being sent home," our correspondent reported from the hospital. This landfill, the largest in Akkar, covers over two million square meters and is used by 90% of the municipalities in the 133 villages of Akkar for their household waste. "Thousands of tons are stored there daily," he estimated.

Burning the landfill occasionally to increase its capacity is a common practice, but in a country in crisis with failing institutions, the state is absent in this rural area. The suffocating smoke is compounded by the foul odors from untreated waste, contaminating water and crops as the landfill is situated between two rivers.

Frustrated, residents have attempted to alert Akkar Governor Imad Labaki, urging him to "immediately address the foul odors and toxic smoke from the Srar landfill." They also called on caretaker Environment Minister Nasser Yassin and caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi to take action.

Attempts to contact the Akkar governor and the Environment Minister were unsuccessful. However, Yassin stated on Tuesday that he was closely monitoring the landfill fire and communicating with relevant authorities to extinguish and control it and its environmental and health impacts. He emphasized the need to investigate the fire's causes.

Yassin also mentioned ongoing efforts to resolve the waste crisis in Akkar, potentially in cooperation with the World Bank and funding from the Global Environment Facility to rehabilitate the sorting plant and create a sanitary cell at Srar.

For the third consecutive day, the Srar landfill in Akkar emitted significant smoke on Tuesday following a fire at the site, endangering the health of nearby residents, according to our correspondent in the area, citing residents and local authorities. "An environmental massacre," declared Abdallah Sakr, a member of Qachlak's municipal council, a village near the landfill, noting that no...