Study on Radioactive Jordanian Groundwater Sparks Controversy

radioactive water jordan photo

An aquaduct in Petra – A Jordanian water conveyance system that is much less controversial!

A major study published last week found levels of radioactive isotopes in Jordan’s Disi aquifer that far exceed international drinking water standards.  The study, which was conducted by a team of Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian scientists and led by Duke University’s Dr. Avner Vengosh, has stirred up loads of controversy in Jordan.

Some officials questioned the credibility of the study based on its timing.  The report was released just weeks before the final financial closure of the Disi Water Conveyance Project, a $600 million dollar water project that will channel drinking water from the southern Disi aquifer to Amman to help alleviate acute water shortages. 

Meanwhile, authorities from multiple ministries and committees have scrambled to insist Jordanian drinking water is acceptable for human consumption.  Water and Irrigation Minister Raed Abu Saud told reporters the “drinking water pumped to Jordanians…is 100 percent safe.”  He further discredited the researchers’ results by saying they took water samples owned by the Jordan Phosphates Mine Company instead of wells owned by the Jordan Water Authority.

Jamal Sharaf, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Director General of the Jordan Nuclear Regulatory Commission also criticized the study’s results as “inaccurate and not trustworthy.”  He added, “Jordanian standards for drinking water are strict and obligatory for authorities…the standards are stricter than those applied in advanced countries.” 

Despite these attacks against their research, the study’s authors asserted the accuracy of their results, and maintained that without treatment, the Disi water is “water you don’t want to drink.”  Both Dr. Vengosh and Professor Omar Rimawi, President of Balqa Applied University and another member of the research team, denied claims that their work was politically motivated, and insisted upon their scientific integrity.

Methinks thou doth protest too much.  It seems like the condemnation of the study is really what’s politically motivated.  Batir Wardam from Arab Environment Watch agrees, saying the efforts to discredit the research demonstrate “the lack of scientific discipline in media and in the characters of a lot of so-called experts and officials.”

Jordanian officials expressed that this controversy will not influence the progress of the water conveyance system.  So at the very least, it will be interesting to see how this plays out over the coming weeks!

::  Jordan TimesJordan Times, Arab Environment Watch

Image Credit: LovelyV

Other Prophecies on Jordan’s water problems:
Drought in Jordan Calls People to Pray for Rain and the Controversial Dead-Red Peace Canal
“The Good Water Project” Recruits Kids From Jordan, Israel and the PA To Learn How It’s All Water Under The Bridge
Jordan Launches EDAMA Intiative on Energy Independence, Water Conservation



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