Saturday, June 03, 2006

The cement factory and Fuheis

As far back as I can remember, the residents of Fuheis have been complaining about the environmental impact of the cement factory which was shortsightedly placed in their town in 1951. At the time, the area was somewhat secluded, and many of the raw materials needed for the production of cement were close by. Moreover, people were not aware of the environmental consequences of having such a facility nearby.

As it happens, Fuheis lies in a beautifully forested area to the west of Amman. The area is ideal as a resort area in a country which treasures green spaces. Residents complain of noise, traffic and mostly dust emanating from the factory.

A French company (LaFarge) purchased controlling shares of the Jordan Cement Factories Company (JCFC) from the government in 1998. It was naively hoped at the time that the company would deal with the community and the environment according to standards acceptable in France. During the period of government control, promises to upgrade environmental protection measures were constantly repeated. In 1998, factory officials declared "The [environmental] plan now fully meets the international standards". After LaFarge took over, the new administration (in 2004) announced the installation of new filters which were supposed to "reduce the dust generated from 100 to 30 milligrammes per cubic metre of cement produced", which is "more than the international standards stipulate". Now the government has temporarily shut down one of the production lines at the factory, because dust emissions from the plant still violate Jordanian standards. The factory is again promising to upgrade filtering quality at the plant.

For their part, the residents of Fuheis are bent on making life as difficult as possible for the factory. A few years ago, they led a drive to prevent the company from replacing its fuel source. The company had wanted to replace the heavy fuel oil that it uses with petcoke, which is much cheaper. The government and the factory argued for the environmental safety of petcoke, but the lobbying of the residents led the king to insist on a comprehensive study the environmental impacts of the new fuel. The results led the government to drop the plan and ban the use of petcoke.

More recently, the factory is experimenting with the use of oil shale as an alternate source of fuel. Again, the residents are lobbying against this experimentation.

Given the history, it is hard not to conclude that the successive administrations of the JCFC have been dealing in bad faith with the residents of Fuheis. This has led to distrust and bad feelings. Despite financial compensation to the municipality that followed threatened legal action, trust is still missing. It is clear that it would be difficult to convince the people of Fuheis of the desire or the ability of the JCFC to eliminate the damage that it is doing to the local environment. Without concrete results, it seems difficult to imagine normal relations between the two sides.



At 2:25 PM, Blogger Blogger said...

People have to realize that Bakalorya school and Dabook are not safe at all!

Since the winds blow from the West to the East! All these areas get the most amounts of dust and pollution.

This is funny because 5 min , I was talking about this with my mom. Now, it’s not only about dust, but there are many other harmful gases. The problem is we don’t have any active environmental groups, and prominent Fuhasis (rich people and PM) are not interested in starting havoc. Maybe it’s time people realize it’s not only Fuhais, but rather most of West Amman residents near the Medeneh Tebeyeh road (Dabook,Hashmeyeh, Jandaweel).

Well they ever move the thing?I don’t think so! It will cost them a fortune and I’m not sure they’ll be welling to do so, unless people speak up!

Seriously we need GreenPeace in Jordan!

Thanks Khalaf!Great as usual.
Actually I was wondering if you have scientific studeis or reports about the issue?

At 9:55 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Firas: Good points, although only Fuheisis are complaining. I haven't heard anybody in Dabouk or Hashimiya complaining.

I really don't know how much it would cost to move it, or if we can manage with even a temporary drop in production while the facility is moved. Even small disruptions or spikes in demand send cement prices through the roof.

Sorry that I don't have any written documents.

At 4:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


i have gone through your site and i haven't seen such a cement plant. Well done.


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