Contractor responsible for violation to remove waste as expert warns of possible air, water pollution

By Hana Namrouqa – Oct 30,2016

AMMAN — Four years after a local contractor illegally buried tonnes of sludge in an abandoned quarry in Mafraq Governorate, the earth is emitting poisonous gases, an official and eyewitness said on Sunday.

In Wadi Al Ghadir Al Abyad, a small town in Mafraq, 80km northeast of Amman, gas is escaping from cracks in the ground of the four-dunum abandoned quarry, polluting the air and jeopardising the health of the local community, according to Ahmad Malabeh, a professor in geological and environmental engineering from Hashemite University.

Malabeh said that the quarry has been emitting gases for the last two weeks, noting that after the site was shut down, people started illegally dumping waste at the site, ignoring the impact of improper waste disposal on the environment and water sources.

“The site is located downstream from Wadi Al Ghadeer Al Abyad Dam, only 1km away from the town,” Malabeh told The Jordan Times.

In addition to contaminating natural resources and the air, the improper burial of the organic waste at the quarry formed pockets of gases that could explode at any moment.

Responding to the local community’s complaints, the Ministry of Environment inspected the area early last week to discover that sludge was dumped there and covered with a four-metre layer of soil, according to ministry spokesperson Isa Shboul.

“A contractor involved in the expansion of the Mafraq Wastewater Treatment Plant is responsible for this violation that happened in 2012,” Shboul told The Jordan Times.

Instead of transporting the sludge to Ikeider landfill, in Irbid, which receives 3,500 cubic metres of waste daily, the contractor dumped the waste at the abandoned quarry and covered it with soil, Shboul added.

“The contractor started addressing the infringement today. He will be responsible for rectifying the violation at his own cost. The buried sludge will be removed and transported to Ikeider landfill because it is emitting methane and hydrogen sulfide,” the official said.

A team from the ministry will supervise the process, according to Shboul, who did not specify if the violator would face any penalties.