Approximately, four months and ten days have passed since the devastating Port of Beirut explosion, and despite all the efforts limited action has taken place. Based on various rapid and initial assessment studies conducted by Municipality of Beirut, local consulting companies, International entities (EU, UNDP and World Bank), there are hundreds of thousands of CDW generated outside the port area, and less than a hundred thousand within the Port premises. The CDW at the port area has been classified as hazardous, due to the confirmed existence of asbestos, and various chemicals. As for the CDW of the area outside the port, investigations are still ongoing regarding its nature. So far apart from the studies that have been conducted, the majority of the initiatives and works have been so far implemented by NGOs and civil society as individual response, to the crisis. When we are talking about management of CDW outside the port, so far what has been documented is the collection of CDW and transporting them to a plot in Karantina area, processing some of the CDW in a basic manner at the Karantina site, and collection of broken glass.
Quantification of CDW and Collection.
According to information from Municipality of Beirut personnel, around one hundred thousand tonnes of CDW have been collected so far and more quantities are still expected, since 60% of the damaged houses/apartments, have not been addressed yet. UNDP’s assessment study indicates 600K-800K tonnes of CDW to be generated including demolition of structurally instable buildings. However, preliminary feedback from various sources are indicating that structurally instable buildings might not be demolished, due to the heritage value of many of these buildings. So Based on these figures, one can safely deduce that we should anticipate at least 300K-400K tonnes of CDW to be collected and processed at the Karantina Site, while an equal amount of 300K-400K tonnes, might be either smuggled to other locations, or recovered during the restoration of the buildings. Accordingly, after four months from the explosion, approximately, one quarter to one third of the anticipated quantities have been collected based on private initiatives, and contributions, from private contractors, local NGOs and international organizations. Hence, if a similar pace is maintained, the collection process of the CDW will consume approximately one more year to be collected and transported to the site at Karantina. Keeping in mind that probably it will consume more time, since most likely with time, the momentum of private initiatives will decrease. As for glass, it has been estimated that a quantity ranging between 10K – 15K tonnes have been generated, some have been sorted at source and are piled at the Karantina site, others have been mixed with the CDW.
Processing of Material
Over the past three months a coalition of organizations have taken ground at Karantina site, and started processing the CDW via manual on the ground sorting using 15-30 labours. Based on some preliminary figures, they have processed so far approximately 1 % of the CDW quantities. Accordingly, at this pace the material processing will consume around 25 years to be completed assuming the same momentum is maintained. As for Glass, so far figures indicate that approximately 70 Tonnes of shattered glass has been recycled into glass ware within a three months period. Keeping in mind that most of the shattered glass might not be suitable for recycling in Lebanon due to technical limitations, if we assume that the processing capacity of glass (regardless of the treatment technology), is 70T/(3 months), then it will consume approximately 43 years to process all the glass quantities.
Apart from the slow pace presented above, the processing of material is not systematic, and lacks the following:
- Proper planning,
- Basic health and safety measures
- Proper management
- Supervision and quality control
- Environmental management plan, and environmental monitoring
- Clear objectives and targets
- Means of management of material and final utilization/disposal
- A clear vision
Recommendations and Moving Forward.
To overcome the slow implementation pace, and to enhance the management of the CDW, a public sector intervention is needed to transit the amateur private initiatives into a well-structured, organized and professional approach. To do so, a strategic plan should be developed based on material analysis (quantities, and quality (physical and chemical)). The strategic plan shall include, locations, means of utilization of material, implementation phases, health and safety measures, quality control measures, environmental measures & monitoring schemes, and clear targets & objectives. A clear deadline for processing the material should be set under the condition that it does not exceed 5 years. Processing methodology should be developed and implemented. The private initiatives are then to be rerouted and incorporated within the developed plan under the condition that they all abide by the set standards and requirements. Additional interventions shall be introduced through professional contracts with contractors and consultants to implement the required tasks to the required norms and standards. By this the random initiatives would have been re-oriented and incorporated into a productive plan and clear initiatives would have been identified for both local and international entities to contribute against based on preset targets and standards.