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Greek company accused of burying waste on Jiyyeh beach.

Byline: Mohammed Zaatari

Summary: Mohammad Sarji, head of the Lebanese Union of Professional Divers and member of environmental NGO Bahr Loubnan, accused Greek company Environmental Protection Engineering (EPE) of burying a number of large bags containing remnants of oil near a sandy beach in Jiyyeh, located 23 kilometers south of Beirut.

BEIRUT: Mohammad Sarji, head of the Lebanese Union of Professional Divers and member of environmental NGO Bahr Loubnan, accused Greek company Environmental Protection Engineering (EPE) of burying a number of large bags containing remnants of oil near a sandy beach in Jiyyeh, located 23 kilometers south of Beirut.

The accusation came during an interview with The Daily Star, who Sarji showed some of the retrieved bags.

He said that EPE buried the bags after being awarded a handsome contract to clean the polluted beaches.

"The Greek company EPE won the generous $238,000 bid [to clean the Jiyyeh area] but unfortunately, and despite of the huge sum awarded and small size of the project," Sarji said, "the company resorted to burying some of the bags underground near the al-Shaabi beach in Jiyyeh where they were originally stored."

Bahr Loubnan submitted a bid to conduct the entire clean-up effort following an Israeli air strike on the power plant that caused a massive oil spill during the summer 2006 war on Lebanon. But the NGO was only contracted to clean an area stretching from Wadi Elzeina to Ramlet al-Baida in Beirut, for which it was paid $500,000. The rest of the effort was carried out by various other organizations.

"Bahr Loubnan tried several times to get the approval of the Ministry of Environment to remove and treat the collected oil but the ministry repeatedly refused and later on - using foreign money and through the United Nation Environment Program (UNEP) - announced a project to transport the collected oil to the inside of the power plant in Jiyyeh."

Sarji demanded that all individuals involved in what he described as a "huge crime" face prosecution. He also called on the Minister of Environment to conduct an investigation into the ordeal.

Sarji emphasized the need for all EPE employees involved in the scandal to be held accountable for whatever role they may have played.

Concerning the second part of the clean-up project, which involved the transport of plastic containers holding liquid and semi-liquid oil collected from the bottom of the sea, Sarji said that EPE instead destroyed all of the containers by either slicing them in half or by cutting holes in each one before dumping them near the beach.

According to Sarji, EPE dumped the bags, despite promises made earlier by the Ministry of Environment to return all of the containers to Bahr Loubnan after being cleaned.

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:Mar 6, 2009
Words:470
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