Astonishing footage shows how 25,000 tons of old batteries used during chronic power outages have piled up in warehouses in the war-torn Gaza Strip.
Locals have had to rely on the batteries due to an unreliable power supply plaguing the region after its sole power plant was bombed by Israeli forces in 2006.
However, residents lack the means to properly dispose of the old batteries – a problem made worse by an ongoing blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt that prevents their exportation.
The huge piles of used batteries – a potentially deadly pollution hazard if they leak or catch fire – are now being kept inside different warehouses across Gaza.
Mohammed Musleh, an official with Gaza’s Environment Authority, said the batteries could break and ooze toxic liquid.
He added: ‘There is a real danger that these batteries are collected and stored randomly in the open air; not in warehouses.’
Despite a waste removal unit operating in Gaza City, private merchants have started buying and hoarding old batteries in hopes of making a profit once the export ban is lifted. They buy them for around two dollars from scrap collectors who roam the streets.
However, the depleted batteries also pose a significant threat to Gaza’s shaky healthcare system the longer they are stored, as they can leak sulphuric acid that may contaminate the soil and seep into the water supply.
Speaking in the video, the warehouse owner who stores stacks of the old batteries said: ‘There are more than 20 thousand tons of batteries because of the electricity crisis.
‘We need to get these batteries out and allow them to be exported out of Gaza. They will cause damage if they stay here.’
The al-Mezan Center for Human Rights said in 2018 that the batteries were a ‘far-reaching problem’ that have started to affect people’s right to ‘health, a clean environment and right to life’.