By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – Authorities are questioning the owners of a warehouse in east Amman, where a large amount of molten lead was stored, a government official said on Saturday.

Late last week, the Ministry of Environment and the Rangers seized 400 tonnes of molten lead in a warehouse in Musherfeh, according to the Ministry of Environment.

A person saw the molten lead in the warehouse and alerted the ministry, which formed a joint inspection committee that seized and confiscated the hazardous material, Minister of Environment Taher Shakhshir said in a statement issued by the ministry.

He added that legal action will be taken against the suspects, noting that the warehouse was shut down and the molten lead was transferred to a safe storage place where it will be disposed of in accordance with legal and technical measures.

Ministry of Environment Spokesperson Isa Shboul said the Environment Protection Law as well as international conventions that Jordan is signatory to forbid the trade or use of such hazardous materials.

“It is a violation of the country’s environment laws and regulations, because molten lead is considered hazardous waste,” he told The Jordan Times yesterday.

The ministry statement said the person who alerted the ministry to the presence of the hazardous material will be honoured, underscoring the threat lead poses to public safety and the environment.

People who handle molten lead are exposed to lead oxide fumes that result in lead poisoning. Lead exposure damages kidneys, the nervous system, heart and reproductive organs, while prolonged exposure to lead permanently damages the brain and impairs cognitive abilities, according to web sources.