UNDP Peace Building
UNDP Peace Building English UNDP Peace Building
UNDP Peace Building
View All
View Less
Zouk and its Smokestacks…. A City of Cancer and Death Threat
Posted on Mar 24, 2021 |
A-
A+
Besides the road to Jounieh or Zouk or Tripoli often buzzing with traffic, it has also been encircled for many years by the smokestacks of the Zouk power plant, and in winter days, toxic emissions can be seen mixing with the sky clouds to form a white layer over the heads of the inhabitants who have become afraid to roam their city, or stand on a balcony or open a window.
the Author
Journalist
Zouk and its Smokestacks…. A City of Cancer and Death Threat
©Adra Kandil

 

Besides the road to Jounieh or Zouk or Tripoli often buzzing with traffic, it has also been encircled for many years by the smokestacks of the Zouk power plant, and in winter days, toxic emissions can be seen mixing with the sky clouds to form a white layer over the heads of the inhabitants who have become afraid to roam their city, or stand on a balcony or open a window.

Generations come and generations go, but the Zouk two smokestacks pillars remain. They are the intractable crisis for which the Lebanese State has for many decades been unable to find a problem, like many others, and which in turn awaits a miracle from heaven. The two Zouk smokestacks pillars have thus been transformed into basic milestones of the region’s sad aspect, and they are still standing and blowing their smoke peacefully, while the residents face a health and economic threat every day, in every walk or breath they take.

The Zouk plant was established as a gas-operated power station in 1956, but soon became a station that pollutes the environment and threatens the lives and safety of the population. And the promises that have been scattered here and there for decades, to find a solution for the Zouk plant, ended in extinction and oblivion. So the Zouk plant with its two steadfast towers, despite the change of governments, presidents and deputies, has become, due to inaction and quotas, a living example of draining the environment, spreading of diseases and cancer, and exposing the region's inhabitants to various dangers.  All this is matched by the continuing serious failure in securing the electricity needs of this and other Lebanese regions.

"I’ve been living in Zouk for ten years, and I coexisted with the idea of not opening the windows and the balconies. I bought a dryer and started to spread the laundry inside the house, so that the smoke from the power generating station would not contaminate it," Najwa says, adding: "My son suffers from respiratory and chest problems and he is five, and this is because of the pollution! "

In this context, environmental journalist Mostapha Raad explains that "the black Zouk file constitutes for years now a rich substance for circulation, and has led to a rise in cancer rates and an impact on vegetation in the region." He continues: "Many people living in the vicinity of the plant either lost a loved one to cancer or have someone who has cancer, and acid rain is usually active in these areas when there is a problem with the filters, which EDL says comply with environmental specifications, knowing that the national air pollution management plan is not in line with international specifications of air pollution standards, and needs immediate and rapid adjustment to protect people from the risk of death".

Raad believes that "the Zouk plant and the smoke resulting from it lead to terrifying health damage in a circle ranging from 1 to 20 km in diameter, including chest diseases, and result in shortness of breath, asthma, and diseases targeting the skin and eyes, and also pose a threat to children in the near term, in addition to causing cancerous diseases after 5 years of inhaling the toxic gas mixture found in the black smoke clouds".

Scientifically, the emitted black clouds contain toxic gases such as nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, soot, and other toxic substances that we inhale on a daily basis, Raad says, and a study prepared by “Greenpeace” stated that Jounieh was declared the fifth Arab city in the proportion of air pollution in 2018 due to the number of factories in these areas, including the Zouk power plant.

The battles of the Zouk people with the power plant and its pollution date back to 1973, when heavy and thick sulfur smoke was emitted from the fuel generators, causing damage to the crops around the plant in the valley of “Nahr El-Kalb”. The Zouk region is historically known for its fertile plains and heights planted with almonds, lemons and olives, and it was also a destination for people from neighboring and remote areas for work, education and even shopping, thanks to its thriving commercial market. And Zouk Mikael lies 14 kilometers from Beirut, and stretches between the sea and the hills, the highest of which reaches an altitude of 285 meters.

However, the legacy that the Zouk region worked to build and retain as its identity was threatened by war and is nearly wiped out by the smokestacks of death, so the identity of the region inevitably became tied to the death towers. And today, 35,000 people are paying the price of the quotas system and the neglect, and so far there is no solution for the dangerous power station, which spews its toxins into the air, soil and sea, and into the bodies of the population. So far, there is no solution on the ground, despite the numerous proposals over the years. The result was that the plant remained unexpanded, undeveloped, and without the construction of a substitute factory in another area to reduce the damage to the region's inhabitants, in return of a rise in cancer and chest diseases, damage to the quality of crops and the fish revolution, as well as air and water pollution.

share:
facebook
Twitter
Whatsapp
Print
Mar 2021
Softimpact Softimpact web design and development company website
UNDP
«Peace Building in Lebanon» Project
The articles and interviews and other information mentioned in this supplement do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations Development Programme. The content of the articles is the sole responsibility of the authors.
Address
:
Arab Bank Building, 6th floor, Riad El Solh Street, Nejmeh, Beirut - Lebanon
Telephone
Mobile
© Copyright 2021. All rights reserved to the UNDP.