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Gaza’s old battery pileups present a risk for the environment and health.

Gaza’s old battery pileups present a risk for the environment and health.

Nearly all Gaza Strip households rely on batteries to keep their homes running after years of continuous power outages.

These batteries have helped to alleviate one crisis. They are also causing another crisis as large quantities of old and used batteries accumulate in an area that lacks the ability to safely dispose them.

There is a real risk that these batteries are randomly collected and stored in the open, not in warehouses, according to Mohammed Musleh, an official of Gazas Environment Authority.

He stated that the most serious threat to the battery’s integrity is the release of sulfuric acid-containing liquid into the soil and water aquifer.

According to the Gaza Environment Authority, there are 25,000 tonnes of old batteries scattered across the small and overcrowded territory. There are no recycling facilities available in Gaza and Egypt has imposed a strict blockade on shipping batteries abroad.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), used batteries pose a variety of dangers to the environment as well as public health. Different types of batteries can contain potentially hazardous metals like mercury, lead, or cadmium. Some of these metals can catch fire.

These risks are particularly acute in Gaza, where the healthcare system is already in crisis and the environment is already in a difficult place. High saline levels from overextraction have rendered almost all of Gaza’s water unusable.

Israel bombed Gaza’s sole power station during a 2006 fighting round and imposed the blockade against Egypt the year following the takeover of power by Hamas militants from rival Palestinian forces. The result was a daily blackout lasting for at least eight hours. During winter storms or conflicts, longer outages can occur that can last for days.

This has made batteries an integral part in the daily lives of the 2 million residents of the territory.

A hazardous waste unit is located in Gaza City, which is designed to dispose of old batteries safely. Ahmed Abu Abdu, the head of the hazardous waste unit, claims that very few batteries reach him. Instead, a small private business has emerged.

Every day, donkey-drawn carts or cars carrying collectors drive through Gaza calling out to people who want to sell their old batteries. Old batteries can fetch as much as $2 per piece depending on their size.

Khaled Ayyad, one of many merchants who buy the batteries, is one of many. He has kept the batteries in northern Gaza for eight years.

Ayyad’s goal is to export the batteries and make decent profits.

As the Israeli side permits them [batteries]He said that Gaza must allow them to go out. We can sell them in factories in Israel, Europe, and around the world.

Exporting batteries is still illegal, and Ayyad finds himself in a new quandary: He has 500 tons of batteries in his warehouse.

He can’t resell them, export them or dump them. Also, he has been paying storage charges. He has sent a message to Hamas. We ask the officials in Gaza to talk to Egypt about allowing us to export them there.

There is a precedent. In recent years, trade cooperation between Egypt and Hamas has been boosted by a crossing in Rafah. This crossing is used to transport goods into Gaza, such as fuel, construction materials and tobacco products. It can also be used to ship scrap metal to Egypt.

Ayyads warehouse has concrete floors, but most other storage locations can spill hazardous materials into the soil.

Although no studies have been done on the impact of lead exposure on the environment, research by a Gaza neurologist and an environmental science expert in 2013 found that children exposed to lead from people who use discarded batteries could be at risk.

In an effort to reduce the danger, Hamas authorities banned the import of secondhand battery since 2017.

Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza, which is based in Gaza, issued a 2018 report warning of the danger of batteries.

Hussein Hammad, a rights group member, stated that there is a problem. The batteries have begun to affect human rights, including the right of health, the right for clean environment, and the right of life.

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