Zouk plant to the front again

APRIL 28, 2015 (REFERRING TO THE NATIONAL NEWS AGENCY – LEBANON) “Also and also … to the Lord we ask: Who handles Zouk plant damage?”

The title of an article written by the Municipality head of Zouk Mikael, Nouhad Nawfal, and was published in the “An-Nahar” newspaper in 2003, expressing his despair of false promises to solve the problem of Zouk plant and its toxins.

Zouk plant toxins is series of several parts and hundreds of episodes. It was launched in the seventies and continues to this day. A chronic problem to Kesserwan sons pending existing solutions proposed from time to time, studied, prepared and discussed, but those promises and resolutions remained ink on paper.

Part of that series began recently when the sons of Zouk raised their cry, due to the development and expansion of the power plant that would add new smokestacks and inject more pollution in the skies of this country. The residents objected the work of the EDL and its new project. It is according to the Federation of Kesserwan Municipalities “against law and unauthorized”, in addition to the environmental pollution that will result.

EDL: Rates of pollution to decrease and the project is identical

EDL (Electricite Du Liban) confirmed that the rate of pollution from the smokestacks has dropped by a large margin since 2012, objecting to what was said about the violation of law and failure to get licenses. EDL affirmed that the standards meet the Lebanese and international environmental standards. In this context, EDL pointed to a circular sent by the Prime Minister in 2003 which allowed proceeding with the implementation of construction projects to the government buildings before obtaining the required licenses on condition that these licenses will be secured before the completion of the construction work.

With these contradicting views, how will this complex dilemma ever end? What is the truth about this new project and disadvantages and violations of the laws? Where are the concerned municipalities regarding this issue?

Merheb Zouk Mosbah Municipality head, Charbel Merheb said that “the problem of toxins emitted from smokestacks is not solved yet,” and that pollution still exists. He added that “the problem will be exacerbated with the increasing numbers,” stressing that “the power plant started implementing the project without a legal permit and approval from the municipality. ” He said that the use of the refineries did not solve the crisis, but reduced the damage.

“90% of the population of the region has cancer or lung disease because of these emissions,” he said, adding that the EDL had not informed the municipality of Zouk Mikael about the expansion decision.

“Municipal police took the initiative and visited the place, but the security forces prevented them from entering and attacked them,” Merheb asked to rally around Zouk Mikael municipality and participate in the peaceful sit-in to end this problem. He blamed the officials for the delay in this file, saying that

“part of the problem goes to Kesserwan sons who did not handle this problem.”

Merheb said that today all the municipalities of Kesserwan along with the Union and the Municipality of Zouk Mikael decided to revive this issue, stressing the solidarity of all the municipalities and their cooperation to end this matter. He asked “why don’t we replace the fuel smokestacks with gas?” He concluded that Zouk plant poison has reached the areas of Ajaltoun, Suhaila, Dbayeh, Tabarja and Jounieh, along Zouk Mikael and Zouk Misbah and Harissa.

Legal side

Lawyer Tarek Ashkar told NNA that the project requires a study conducted by the Ministry of Environment before starting the expansion of work. He focused that these properties belonged to the municipality, even though they are considered public institutions. He added that the EDL and the Municipality of Zouk are related to the state and are under the guardianship of the Ministries of Energy and Water, and Interior and Municipalities, which requires finding an administrative solution between the concerned sides far from the justice court.

Zouk plant smokestacks and their disadvantages are a novel we’re used to hearing from dozens of years. From the health part it cannot be ignored, while studies have proven that the power plant pollutes the space and causes diseases in the nose, in addition to lung cancer.

SOURCE: NATIONAL NEWS AGENCY – LEBANON