Birds circling trash threaten Beirut flights: minister
Beirut, Jan 11, 2017 (AFP) - Flights in and out of Lebanon's Beirut airport
are at risk because of the large number of birds flying over a nearby garbage
dump, the country's transport minister said Wednesday.
"Today we face an emergency... we recognise that there is a danger posed to
civil aviation movement by the birds," Yusef Fenianos said after a meeting
with Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
"The presence of the Costa Brava dump has contributed to the increasing
number of birds," the minister said, according to a statement released by
Hariri's office after the meeting.
The Costa Brava dump was created in March 2016, as one of three "temporary"
dumps intended to provide an interim solution to the closure of the main
landfill receiving waste from Beirut.
Under a government plan intended to end the crisis caused by the landfill's
closure, the dumps were eventually intended to have waste processing
facilities, but that has not happened.
As a result, garbage has piled up in Costa Brava, on the coastline close to
the runways at Beirut's international airport, reaching nine metres in some
places and wafting foul odours nearby.
Environmentalists have for months warned that the dump is attracting
rodents and increasing numbers of birds, posing potential risk for aviation.
In August, the Lebanese pilots' union warned of the possibility of the
birds being sucked into airplane engines.
"Thank God, up until now, the flights have not encountered any real
danger," said Fenianos, who is also minister of public works.
He said the problem was being tackled by an increase in the number of
devices installed around the airport emitting bird of prey calls in order to
scare away the nuisance birds.
But the activist movement "You Stink", launched to protest government
inaction during the height of the garbage crisis, mocked the measures.
"What are you waiting for to close Costa Brava... for a plane to crash or
an international decision to shut the airport," they wrote on Facebook.
"The solution is not to scare the birds away," they said, urging the dump
Local media reported that on Tuesday a plane belonging to national carrier
Middle East Airlines encountered a large flock of birds as it landed on the
airport's west runway, prompting concern.
A permanent solution for the waste produced by Beirut and its surroundings
has yet to be found, months after the Naameh landfill was shuttered and
garbage began piling up on the capital's streets.
The issue is one of many outstanding challenges that remain to be resolved
by Lebanon's new government, formed on December 18 after some two years of
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