Humanitarian and Development
75,000 euro to the Selection Committee at 2006/10/03
In July 2006, among the many ravages caused in Lebanon by the war between Israel and the Hezbollah, the fuel tank farms of the Jiyeh Electric Power Plant were bombed. The Lebanese coastline (shore and outlying seabed) was quickly polluted by hydrocarbons. However, faced with the scale of the reconstruction required at the end of the conflict, pollution prevention projects could not be addressed immediately. On September 1st, pollution of the Lebanese coast spread over nearly 150 km and estimates indicated ten to fifteen thousand tons of fuel oil spread on the beaches and in the water. To clean this slick, which had all the time it needed to “settle in”, the Lebanese NGO Bahr Loubnan called on France and its expertise, acquired particularly during the grounding of the Erika.
Privileging Soft Methods
Before operations began, Bahr Loubnan identified all the critical points: sandy beaches, creeks and rocks, where the fuel oil settles in the interstices, as well as the small palm islands offshore, and the seabed, particularly affected. Thanks to this meticulous work, the NGO hopes to terminate the pollution removal project by the end of autumn. To achieve this, vast material and human resources have been used, requiring the help of international aid, including that of fondation Veolia.
In fact, to avoid irreparable environmental damage, soft pollution control methods are systematically employed: professional divers extract the fuel oil deposited on the seabed by hand, the beaches are also cleaned manually, and the rocks are washed with high pressure cleaners or brushes, in particularly inaccessible areas. The fishermen, currently deprived of their resources, are also trained and enrolled in this program.
Final precautions: the hydrocarbons recovered will be stored and then recycled and Bahr Loubnan plans to prohibit swimming in the cleansed zones, as long as the necessary conditions have not been satisfied, confirming the new quality of the water, the sandy beaches and the Lebanese rocks.