Case Mnemonic: LEBANON
Case Name: Lebanon Civl War and Waste Dumping
The Italian ambassador Antonio Mancini later met with Lebanese Acting Prime Minister Salim Hoss in June to negotiate an agreement to remove the wastes. Italy offered to pay $3 million in U.S. Dollars toward the clean up costs, but Lebanon demanded that Italy pay the entire cost. Senior Lebanese officials encouraged Hoss to recall the Lebanese ambassador from Rome or to freeze diplomatic ties with Italy to pressure Italy to fund the entire clean up. Hoss did neither.
On June 23, 1988 an anonymous caller from the "Organization of Preserving the Lebanese Right" threatened to physically attack Italian interests in Lebanon unless the Italian government removed the wastes within one week. The threat of terrorist reprisal did spur the Italian government to action, in contrast to the ineffectual efforts of the government of Lebanon. Two vessels, the Vorais Sporiades (formerly the Jumbo Trust) and the Yvonne/A, reloaded the wastes in July and August 1988, but were still in Lebanese waters in early November. They remained at anchor, awaiting Italian government orders to return to Italy.(1) On December 15, 1988, the Italian government announced that the waste would be shipped to the Italian port of La Spezia. The mayor of La Spezia agreed to this, provided the wastes were identified and the stay in port was limited.
In March, 1989, the Lebanese delegate to the Basel Convention, Dr. Milad Jarjouhi, reported on imports of Italian waste. A total of 16,000 barrels and numerous other containers of chemical wastes were, Jarjouhi claimed, delivered as raw materials and recycling goods to numerous Lebanese companies by "Italian Mafia-dealers," who, it was discovered, had simply left the wastes or had shipped it into the mountains. He showed photographs of children who suffered from cauterized patches of skin. He also said that there were still 9,000 barrels "lost in the mountains." Pierre Malychef was commissioned in 1987 to run an inquiry into the Italian dumping and nearly died from an assasin's bullet. He believes that the Italian company paid between $12 and $22 million for disposal. The manifest on the shipment described it as "raw material for industry and agriculture."(2) In 1994, Malychef was asked to look into such imports once again. Lebanon has demands that Italy pay to take back the waste and to decontaminate the landfills, but Italy refuses, threatening to halt reconstruction assistence. Belgium was forced to repatriate crushed palstics mixed with chemicals that it had exported for disposal in Lebanon. In January, 1998, OECD countries agreed not to export waste outside of OECD, even when it can be used as a raw material for another industry. The problem of waste dumping continues today due to the weak powers of the Lebanese government and the control of the country by various other countries and factions. Ali Darwish of GreenLine, a Lebanese environmental group, points to the "Normandy" dumpsite near Beruit. After the war, various construction and building projects began in these polluted areas by parties who had ties to the government. These complexes will sit on contaminated lands. Imports only compound a bad situation. Lebanese industry itself dumps tremendous amounts of pollution into the counbtry's air, land and water. In the norther city of Chekka, ground water is contaminated with an insecticide banned in the EU. Altogether, 326,000 tons of waste are dumped in rivers and the sea of Lebanon alone.
Region: Mideast Asia
Endnotes 1. APS Diplomat (June 27, 1988); Greenpeace Italy; Greenpeace Netherlands; Ria Kaj, UPI (July 18, 1988); Reuters News Reports (June 16/23/29, 1988); (July 2/11/14 1988); "Toxic Wastes to Italy," Dagens Nyheter (Sweden, June 8, 1988); Voice of Lebanon via BBC Monitoring Service, June 23, 1988. 2. "Environment-Lebanon: Building on Top of the World's Toxic Waste", IPS, Beruit, June 3, 1998. 3. "Environment-Lebanon: Building on Top of the World's Toxic Waste", IPS, Beruit, June 3, 1998. Bibliography Anderson, Harry. "The Global Poison Trade." Newsweek 112 (Nov. 7, 1988): 66-8. Dufour, Jean-Paul and Denis, Corinne. "The North's Garbage goes South." World Press Review 35 (Nov. 1988): 30-2. "Ending the Traffic in Toxic Waste." UN Chronicle 26 (June 1989): 71. "Environment-Lebanon: Building on Top of the World's Toxic Waste", IPS, Beruit, June 3, 1998. "Hazardous Wastes Spark EC Dispute." Transportation and Distribution 33 (Feb. 1992): 20. Henwood, Douglas. "Toxic Banking." The Nation 254 (Mar. 2 1992): 257. Hilz, Christoph. The International Toxic Waste Trade. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1992. "Inside the Poison Trade." Videorecording/Central Independent Television and Belbo Film co-production in association with the Television Trust for the Environment. North Brook, II: MTI Film and Video, 1990 Kaj, Ria. UPI (July 18, 1988). Millman, Joel. "Exporting Hazardous Waste." Technology Review 92 (Apr. 1989): 6-7. O'Sullivan, Dermot A. "UN Environment Program Targets Issue of Hazardous Waste Exports." Chemical Engineering News 66 (Sept. 26 1988): 24-7 Phillips, Andrew. "Poison in Poor Lands." Mclean's 101 (August 1, 1988): 51-2 Reuters News Reports (June 16/23/29, 1988 and July 2/11/14, 1988). Ruffins, Paul. "Toxic Terrorism Invades Third World Nations." Black Enterprise 19 (November 19, 1988): 31. "Toxic Wastes: Poisoning the Planet." UN Chronicle 29 (June 1992): 61. "Toxic Wastes to Italy." Dagens Nyheter (Sweden, June 8, 1988).