Lebanon to Shut Down 79 Factories Polluting Litani River

Lebanon to Shut Down 79 Factories Polluting Litani River

Friday, 9 November, 2018 - 07:00
Lebanon pollution/NNA
Beirut - Paula Astih
Caretaker Industry Minister Hussein Hajj Hassan decided on Thursday to shut down 79 unlicensed factories in eastern Lebanon for their role in polluting the Litani River, one of the biggest in the country, and for turning it into an immense sewage canal.

According to the Litani River Authority, the level of pollution has caused, in an unprecedented way, a rise in cancer cases in the towns and villages surrounding the River.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, head of the Authority Sami Alawieh welcomed the Industry Ministry’s decision but said it should take practical steps to close down the factories.

“There are more than 600 unlicensed factories,” he said.

The official also said that a licensed institution, which is polluting the river on a daily basis, also needs to be shot down.

The Litani River Authority had approached the Public Prosecutor’s Financial office and informed it about the establishment of Syrian refugee camps on the banks of the River, turning it into a sewage canal and a waste dump.

Alawieh said municipalities and governors in the area should be allowed to monitor industrial factories operating near the River and to take the necessary measures to stop them from causing pollution.

Dr. Ali Yaacoub, an expert in environmental engineering, described the situation as “an environmental catastrophe.”

“Pollution caused a huge rise in cancer cases,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat, saying that around 45 people were recently diagnosed with the disease in the town of Hawsh, on the banks of the Litani River.

Yaacoub lamented that the action of the Lebanese authorities had come late after the river became a sewage swamp and garbage dump.

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