Lebanese minister: Litani river pollution a “national catastrophe”

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The owner of the industry Waël Bou Faour hopes for urgent measures to stem the crisis. Among the first measures, the temporary closure of factories along the waterway. Purification plants installed in 49 companies out of a total of 63. In a few months, dozens of infringements were recorded.

Beirut (AsiaNews / Agencies) – The level of pollution in the Litani river has reached alarming levels and represents a “national catastrophe” against which action is urgently needed. For this reason, one of the first measures could be the (temporary) closure of companies that are located near the waterway warned the Lebanese Minister of Industry Waël Bou Faour, who anticipates fallback measures pending a more comprehensive intervention to safeguard one of the most important basins of the country.

For a long time the Litani was one of the most precious natural resources for Lebanon; however, today it is the epicenter of what is called an environmental catastrophe. In the 1960s it was possible to water crops with its water or to bathe in peace. Today, instead, studies show a progressive deterioration and very bad sanitary conditions.

“The level [of pollution of the Litani river] – said the minister during a press conference – can be considered as a national catastrophe. Those who are not directly affected by this catastrophic pollution today, will be sooner rather than later”.

“We cannot confirm or deny – continued Waël Bou Faour – that the contamination [of the river] is or is not the cause of diseases, even serious ones, and of cancer cases”. However, he warned that it is necessary to pay the utmost attention and that “purification plants have been installed in 49 factories, out of a total of 63” that arise along the waterway. He warned: “we will be forced to temporarily close those who do not respect these measures”.

Last March, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri decided to create a commission of 17 members, called to take drastic action to stem the environmental crisis that characterizes the Litani, the longest river in the country of the cedars. The commission, endowed with vast prerogatives, is formed by representatives of various ministries and public bodies, between here the national department of Litani, as well as the governors of the regions crossed.

In recent months, the Litani National Office has registered several dozen infringements, from the creation of centers (abusive) for the reception of refugees to irregular factories on its shores.

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