By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – The Ministry of Environment is investigating alleged environmental and health violations at the Jordan Bromine Company, which reportedly dumped hazardous chemical waste in a landfill in the Jordan Valley, a government official said on Wednesday.

The bromine company dumped barrels containing hazardous chemical substances at a landfill designated for solid domestic waste in Ghor Mazraa, south of the Dead Sea, last Thursday, which caused a fire to erupt at the site and emit foul odours and gases, a source at the Ministry of Environment said.

“A committee headed by Minister of Environment Taher Shakhshir was formed to investigate the incident. The committee took samples from the landfill, which has been closed down, and will take action against the company,” the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Jordan Times yesterday.

Established in 2000 on a 150-dunum area located in Ghor Al Safi’s Numeira area, the Jordan Bromine Company is a joint venture between the Jordan Dead Sea Industries Company and the American Albemarle Company, according to the Jordan Free Zones Corporation (JFZC).

The company, which has 94 employees, produces bromine, alkaline potash and chlorine, according to the JFCZ website.

“The barrels should have been transferred to the Swaqa landfill for hazardous waste in south Amman, but the chemical waste ended up in the Jordan Valley due to an administrative error. We reject such negligence,” the official underscored.

The source noted that the Ministry of Finance will be involved in monitoring the plant, as it is part of the Dead Sea Development Zone and thus an affiliate of the ministry.

“The company’s environmental violations are recurrent, whether disposing chemical waste in undesignated areas or emitting fumes; a radical solution must be found for this problem,” the source noted.

Despite several attempts by The Jordan Times, the company could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) President Munqeth Mehyar said FoEME field staff in the area reported the environmental violations committed by the company.

“The company is not only dumping hazardous waste in domestic waste landfills, but also using huge amounts of potable water in its industrial processes,” he told The Jordan Times yesterday.

FoEME is compiling evidence of the violations and plans to file a lawsuit against the company on behalf of the local community for disposal of hazardous waste and random use of drinking water, Mehyar added.