By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – An environment society is planning to sue the Jordan Petroleum Refinery Company (JPRC) for “poisoning the Jordanian people by producing low-quality diesel”.

The Energy Conservation and Sustainable Environment Society, a not-for-profit NGO that seeks to limit harmful gases emitted from fuel combustion, is in the process of filing a lawsuit against the refinery, according to its president, Ayoub Abu Dayyeh.

“The refinery is not adhering to Jordanian standards specifying the amount of sulphur in diesel, which is hundreds of times higher than the allowed limits, critically affecting the environment and public health,” he said in a lecture at Princess Sumaya University for Technology on Thursday.

“European standards specify a maximum of 10 parts-per notation (ppn) of sulphur in diesel fuel, while Jordan specified in May 2005 that diesel from the refinery should have a maximum of 350 ppn of sulphur… which never happened,” Abu Dayyeh underscored.

“Diesel currently produced by the refinery contains 10,000-12,000 ppn of sulphur, which is well above the permitted limits,” he noted.

Diesel exhaust contains pollutants that may increase asthma, respiratory problems and cancer. Bits of soot, called particulate matter, and gases threaten health when diesel exhaust is inhaled, according to web sources.

Wasef Azar, a member of the JPRC board of directors, confirmed that the quality of diesel in the country is low and negatively impacts the environment and health, but pointed out that “the lawsuit should be filed against the government, not the company”.

“The government must give the company the opportunity and the legislative facilities to allow us to improve the quality of diesel,” he told The Jordan Times over the phone yesterday.

“Adherence to standards specifying the amount of sulphur in diesel doesn’t happen with a click of a button… JD2 billion are required for the process and the government is against raising its capital,” Azar, a former minister of trade and industry, said.