Eight out of 31 coastal sites in Lebanon were flagged as highly polluted, the National Council for Scientific Research announced Wednesday.
Results of the study conducted by the NCSR showed that seven locations are heavily polluted and not suitable for swimming due to higher than permissible levels of fecal bacteria.
These locations were listed as Qoleiaat airport in the Akkar district, the Mina port opposite of Abdel-Wahab Island in Tripoli, the public beach in Tripoli, the port side of Dbayyeh, the estuary in Antelias, Manara in Beirut, and Ramlet al-Baida in Beirut.
While the popular beach in Selaata is considered safe to swim, the location is beside a chemical plant, making it vulnerable to chemical pollution and is therefore listed as unsafe.
The report showed that 17 locations on the coast scored “good” to “very good” and were considered safe for swimming with low bacterial and organic contamination.
As Lebanon’s temperatures begin to rise, many have been concerned about overcrowding of beaches during a global pandemic.
“Coronavirus is very difficult to be transmitted by seawater,” Director of the NCSR Milad Fakhri told The Daily Star. High levels of salt, continuous movement of waves and the sun’s ultraviolet rays break down the composition of viruses, making it difficult for the illness to spread in salt water.
“The best way to prevent the spread is social distancing,” Fakhri said.
Pollution often spills into the sea along stretches of Lebanon’s coastline. In many places, raw sewage sometimes washes into the water.
Lebanon also has a trash disposal problem. Landfill sites, some by the seashore, are overflowing and in recent years, winter storms have covered nearby beaches with plastic.
As Beirut’s airport is set to open for the first time since March 18, a dirty coast may make it harder for badly indebted Lebanon to draw back tourists and revive its image as a Mediterranean getaway.