Trash piles in Beirut raise fears of an environmental crisis

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Trash piles in Beirut raise fears of an environmental crisis
Cars and motorcycles pass by a large pile of garbage on a Beirut street, Lebanon, Tuesday, July 21, 2015. Garbage is piling up on the streets of Beirut amid a growing dispute over tiny Lebanon's largest trash dump. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
A Lebanese woman passes by a pile of garbage on a Beirut street, Lebanon, Tuesday, July 21, 2015. Garbage is piling up on the streets of Beirut amid a growing dispute over tiny Lebanon's largest trash dump. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Cars and motorcycles pass by a large pile of garbage on a Beirut street, Lebanon, Tuesday, July 21, 2015. Garbage piled up on the streets of Beirut amid a growing dispute over Lebanon's largest trash dump. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
BEIRUT, LEBANON - JULY 21: A man throws out garbage on garbage dumps in capital Beirut, on July 21, 2015. Waste management company Sukleen said Monday it had stopped collecting garbage in Beirut and Mount Lebanon, and won't resume until authorities secure a new dumping ground after Friday's closure of the Naameh landfill. Garbage has already started to pile up on the streets of Mount Lebanon and Beirut. The landfill, which was appointed to receive 2 million tons of waste but has instead taken over 15 million, used to be the main dump for Beirut and Mount Lebanon. (Photo by Bilal Jawich/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Lebanese run by loads of garbage on the Beirut coastline, Lebanon, Tuesday, July 21, 2015. Garbage is piling up on the streets of Beirut amid a growing dispute over tiny Lebanon's largest trash dump. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
BEIRUT, LEBANON - JULY 21: A street sweeper puts lime on garbage dumps in capital Beirut, on July 21, 2015. Waste management company Sukleen said Monday it had stopped collecting garbage in Beirut and Mount Lebanon, and won't resume until authorities secure a new dumping ground after Friday's closure of the Naameh landfill. Garbage has already started to pile up on the streets of Mount Lebanon and Beirut. The landfill, which was appointed to receive 2 million tons of waste but has instead taken over 15 million, used to be the main dump for Beirut and Mount Lebanon. (Photo by Bilal Jawich/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A parking meter is seen between a pile of garbage on a Beirut street, Lebanon, Tuesday, July 21, 2015. Garbage is piling up on the streets of Beirut amid a growing dispute over tiny Lebanon's largest trash dump. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
A Lebanese woman holds her nose from the smell as she passes by a pile of garbage on a street in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, July 21, 2015. Garbage is piling up on the streets of Beirut amid a growing dispute over tiny Lebanon's largest trash dump. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
BEIRUT, LEBANON - JULY 21: A man walks past the garbage dumps on the streets of capital Beirut, on July 21, 2015. Waste management company Sukleen said Monday it had stopped collecting garbage in Beirut and Mount Lebanon, and won't resume until authorities secure a new dumping ground after Friday's closure of the Naameh landfill. Garbage has already started to pile up on the streets of Mount Lebanon and Beirut. The landfill, which was appointed to receive 2 million tons of waste but has instead taken over 15 million, used to be the main dump for Beirut and Mount Lebanon. (Photo by Bilal Jawich/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A Lebanese man searches for valuables amongst the garbage on a Beirut street, Lebanon, Tuesday, July 21, 2015. Garbage is piling up on the streets of Beirut amid a growing dispute over tiny Lebanon's largest trash dump. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
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BEIRUT (AP) — Garbage piled up Tuesday on the streets of cosmopolitan Beirut amid a growing dispute over tiny Lebanon's largest trash dump, picketed by residents as it should have closed permanently days earlier.

The main company in charge of picking up the trash, Sukleen, had its workers sweeping Beirut's streets, though not picking up any of the garbage. Typically, the refuse would have gone to the Naameh landfill, just south of Beirut, which has been functioning since 1997.

But Naameh was scheduled to close July 17. Since then, residents of Naameh and nearby villages have blocked roads to prevent trucks from reaching it to unload trash out of fears it could be reopened. That's left Beirut's residents dodging the growing piles of litter, now baking in the summer sun.

Sukleen spokeswoman Pascale Nassar said the company kept collecting trash until Sunday night, when their facility in Beirut could not take any more garbage. Nassar said Sukleen is waiting for authorities to offer them guidance on what to do.

Lebanon's notoriously gridlocked government has yet to take any action on the issue ahead of the next Cabinet meeting on Thursday. Meanwhile, the trash pile grows as workers spray them with white powder to knock back the smell and spread of pests.

Environment Minister Mohammed Machnouk said after a meeting of parliament's environment committee that there is no strategic solution for the crisis, though there are 670 dumps around the country that can be used.

"Trash has to be collected from the streets and this can only happen with everyone's cooperation," Machnouk told The Associated Press.

Stinking Rubbish Piles Swamp in Beirut

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