Clean Up Two Million Tons of Trash Polluting City

A general view shows packed garbage bags in Jdeideh, Beirut, Lebanon March 3, 2016. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

Target: Beirut Government Secretariat, Mr. Noel Massaad

Goal: Remove a toxic “river” of trash before disease spreads and the environment suffers.

The city of Beirut has a smelly, toxic river of two million tons of trash snaking through it. The trash company’s contract ended with no one to take over the responsibility for waste disposal. The people are protesting the government because it has failed to deal with such a serious issue that affects their health and water supply.

When the contract ended with the trash company, there was no one to collect the trash of Lebanon’s capital city, Beirut. The landfill was closed with no other waste disposal alternatives. So, since July, trash has been piling up, with no sign of stopping.

The government’s inability to deal with small issues, like trash disposal, is probably a direct reflection of the problems caused by the civil war in the neighboring country of Syria. The country has been unable to create a budget and a president has not been elected for over a year.

For some time, there were plans for exporting the trash to Russia, Germany, or Sierra Leone, all of which have fallen through. So the terrible solution that the government has come up with is to pile the trash in this river like a long, toxic mountain through the city.

The growing river of garbage is a serious health risk to residents. During the heavy winter rains, the water seeps through the trash contaminating the water table with dangerous toxins. Last summer, there were many protests because of the unbearable smell. To try and escape the smell, residents burn the trash, despite the government ban, which releases dangerous toxins and carcinogens into the air. The warmer months are coming around again and there is fear of more protests and violence.

The people of Beirut deserve basic rights from their government including access to clean air and clean water. Demand that the government take the necessary steps to sustainably and quickly clear the city of its dangerous river of trash.


Dear Mr. Noel Massaad,

A smelly, toxic river of two million tons of trash spreads like a disease throughout the capital of Lebanon. The responsibility of waste disposal has been left to the government that, so far, has been unable to find a safe and effective solution.

The ever-growing river of rotting garbage poses a serious health risk to Beirut’s residents. Buring the trash releases toxins and carcinogens into the air. Winter rainwater that passes through the trash into the ground contaminates the water table. Summer’s heat suffocates the residents in an unbearable smell.

The people of Beirut deserve breathable air and drinkable water. I demand that the government take the necessary steps to sustainably and quickly clear the city of its dangerous river of trash.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Aziz Taher

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