Jordanian Water: A Dash of Radium and A Shot of Politics

There’s something about the words ‘water’, ‘radioactive isotopes’, and ‘scientific evidence’ that inspires, on a personal level at least, an unequivocal faith in whatever words follow.

If said water and isotopes are found in Jordan however, by a team of Palestinian, Israeli, and Jordanian scientists led by Duke University’s Dr. Avner Vengosh, doubts and tempers flare.

According to the study published last week, the high levels of radium render the water unfit for human consumption.

The timing of the report’s release has raised suspicions nevertheless, as it arrived a few weeks before the financial closure of the $600 million Disi Water Conveyance Project which is set to alleviate the major water shortages that afflict Amman.

While Dr. Vengosh maintains that through the implementation of efficient water treatment the radium can be reduced and the Disi project unhampered, governmental officials remain dogmatic.

Words such as “inaccurate” are being bandied about, while the Minister of Water advanced into conspiracy territory with the following rail:

They [the researchers] didn’t take water samples from wells owned by the Jordan Water Authority [JWA], but from wells owned by the Jordan Phosphate Mines Company and this water is used for washing the phosphate… I’m certain that no one took any samples from wells owned by the JWA”. [Source]

Other issues causing affront include the participation of Jordanian researchers, the legality of conducting such research in Jordan, and perhaps the detrimental nature of the findings to the future of the Disi aquifer project, for which France has proffered a €200 million loan.

It is fellow blogger Batir Wardam’s conclusion that I am partial to the most however, for it rings with the reality required for such circumstances:

This dangerous mix of science, politics and economy is getting volatile and I am afraid that the real science and facts are pushed to the margins of debate. What I need as a concerned Jordanian citizen and consumer is sound scientific proofs and not political arguments and accusations of hidden agendas. [Source]

First and foremost should be the protection of the health of those residing within Jordan’s borders; to possibly dismiss such findings as piffle in the name of saving a multi-million dollar venture would be downright folly.

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This entry was posted on March 5, 2009 by in Jordan, Middle East, Politics and tagged , , , .
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