By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – The Jordan Environment Society (JES) on Wednesday urged authorities to intensify monitoring of hospital incinerators, claiming that many are violating environment and public health regulations.

Several hospitals in Amman are burning their medical waste without meeting the basic health and environment requirements to reduce the amount of smoke and prevent foul odours emanating from their chimneys.

“Some hospitals in Amman are violating people’s right to a healthy environment by burning their medical waste and puffing deadly toxins into the lungs of residents living nearby,” JES Executive Director Ahmad Kofahi told The Jordan Times over the phone.

He said scores of people living in Shmeisani complained several times about a nearby hospital that burns its medical waste, generating heavy black clouds of smoke and emitting foul odours.

“The society paid several visits to the area and discovered that… the hospital is emitting excessive black fumes from its chimney,” he said.

Sami Saif, who owns a car showroom in Shmeisani, said the hospital has been polluting the area’s atmosphere for years, noting that he complained several times to authorities.

“The hospital opens its chimney and emits toxins generated from burning medical waste. The smoke and the stench spread all over the area,” he said yesterday.

Saif complained that cars and rooftops are often covered with grease, which settles after the smoke is discharged from the chimneys.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to know that this grease covering our cars and rooftops comes from burning human remains following surgeries,” he said.

Kofahi noted that several complaints were filed against the hospital with the Ministry of Environment and the Rangers, but authorities did not record violations at the time of the inspection visit.

“Area residents complained that the hospital opens its chimney during the night so that people do not notice the black clouds,” he noted.

Ministry of Health regulations oblige hospitals to abide by strict waste management policies, while any hospital incinerator must be 500 metres away from the nearest residential area.

The Ministry of Environment said its teams have been informed about the complaints against the hospital, and it is following up on the issue to address the problem.

“An inspection team has been dispatched today to check on the hospital’s adherence to regulations governing medical waste management. Legal action will be taken against the hospital if it is in violation of regulations,” Ministry of Environment Spokesperson Isa Shboul told The Jordan Times over the phone.

He noted that the environment and health ministries carry out regular inspection visits to hospitals across the country to ensure that medical waste is being handled properly and that hazardous waste is disposed of at a designated landfill.