I spotted posters on the Jounieh highway inviting locals to protest against the Zouk powerplant on Saturday the 25th of April at 3pm. I texted a friend, who happens to be from Zouk Mikhael, and asked him about the protest and whether he’s going or not. He told me that he’s definitely not going because the protest is organized by people he disagrees with politically (wou 3am bya3emlouwa benkeye and maybe he’s right). I asked him whether his party or whomever he’s supporting are doing anything to fix this problem and he didn’t have a clear answer. Instead, he started attacking others and blaming them for not doing anything.
This small talk pretty much sums up the Zouk power plant situation and how Adonis and Zouk residents and municipalities, as well as Keserwan MPs and ministers haven’t done anything to shut down this polluting and hazardous plant. Some people have been lobbying since the days of the Camille Chamoun presidency, yet all their efforts have gone in vain because it’s all about politics and some people would rather get cancer from the toxins dispatched by the chemical plant than protest against their Zaiims. I don’t know how some Lebanese can be so nonchalant about their health and the well being of their children, specially when there are studies showing an increase in cancer due to this power plant.
The Zouk plant has been operating for more than 50 years and is polluting the whole country not just the Keserwan area. A couple of years back, emissions were reduced by 80% by Minister Gebran Bassil but this is not enough as filters aren’t apparently an effective solution. I don’t know what Zouk residents are still waiting for, but they are jeopardizing their health and their family’s health by keeping things as they are. What’s even worse is that more buildings are being built around the plant and the area is becoming overpopulated, not to mention the new beach resorts that are opening every summer, and the third smoke stack that might be added.
To sum things up, if the problem is that we can’t get rid of the power-plant that easily, municipalities should raise awareness on its dangers and keep people away from it. They should also organize protests and pressure the authorities to cut down the pollution and agree on a plan to remove the power plants once and for all. At the same time, municipalities should do what Zahle did and try to figure out alternatives (renewable energy solutions maybe?) to provide their towns and villages with 24/7 electricity, that way they will be able to negotiate on better terms, noting that Zouk residents don’t even get 24/7 electricity! It’s quite absurd that the authorities are allowing people to build new residential areas, commercial centers and beach resorts around the Zouk power plant while there’s a yearly increase of cancer cases and other diseases due to this plant!
For those of you who think that there’s no solution to this matter, check out this study done by Patrick Kallas that I found online and that proposes four solutions to the Zouk power plant issue, and I’m sure there are other studies and solutions published online.
As far as Saturday’s protest is concerned, I don’t know who is organizing it but that’s not how you achieve things. You need to convince residents that you have a certain strategy, that you will be following a certain plan of work and that these protests will eventually get somewhere not just end up on some local TV’s news bulletin for 2 minutes.