1. Ports of Jersey (and formerly Jersey Airport) as a department of the States of Jersey has always had responsibility for the remediation and monitoring of the historic contamination since it became evident. Ports of Jersey Limited ("PoJ") on incorporation assumed responsibility for reviewing the issue of historic contamination in the St Ouen's Bay Aquifer. The most probable source of the contamination is the use of fire-fighting foam for fire training purposes at Jersey Airport's Fire Training Ground (the "FTG"). This has never been disputed and was acknowledged by the Harbours & Airport Committee in P.176/2004 - Jersey Airport: Fire Training Ground Remediation – Deed of Settlement.
2. A constituent of the fire-fighting foam was perfluorooctane sulphonate ("PFOS"), which is a persistent organic pollutant. The significance of PFOS to human health is unclear but current research suggests that concentrations of PFOS above a certain level may be a cause for concern.
3. There is no specific prescribed standard for PFOS in drinking water in England and Wales. For compounds where no standard is set, the Drinking Water Inspectorate (the "Inspectorate") seeks advice from independent toxicological experts to determine a level at which drinking water does not constitute a potential danger to human health if consumed. The Inspectorate considers that, based on current advice, it is reasonably practicable to consider concentrations of PFOS in drinking water up to 1.0μg/l (the "Threshold") as not constituting a danger to human health. It is important to note that whilst it is advisable that water contaminated beyond the Threshold should not be used as drinking water, it may be used for other purposes. Appropriate advice should be sought from the Environmental Health Department with regard to what purposes groundwater (with a PFOS concentration in excess of the Threshold) can be used. It is possible that other substances and nitrates may be found in the groundwater which would dictate recommended uses.
4. The Plume Area is marked on the map provided with this summary (the "Plume Area") and was based on a conservative interpretation of hydrological engineering advice as to the likely fullest extent of potential dispersion of the PFOS contamination. The Plume Area therefore represents a monitoring parameter and does not denote whether a particular property within the Plume Area has (or has not) been affected by PFOS contamination.
5. The Harbours & Airport Committee (the "Committee") undertook a range of activities to remediate the problem, the most significant being the construction of a new FTG. This involved the encapsulation of contaminated shale/rock and the construction of a subterranean concrete wall to redirect ground water that would otherwise run through the FTG.
6. In 2004 the States approved P176/2004: Jersey Airport: Fire Training Ground Remediation – Deed of Settlement. This approved and ratified a Deed of Settlement between the Committee and the manufacturer of the fire-fighting media containing the pollutant whereby a full and final settlement of £2.6 million was paid to the States. These funds were used to undertake works to remediate the site (which resulted in the significant improvement to the FTG) and have been exhausted for this purpose.
7. The use of the fire-fighting foam containing PFOS was discontinued and the continued use of alternate fire-fighting foam is strictly controlled and restricted to the FTG and the wash down bay situated at Stand 19 on the southern apron of the Airport, both of which have formal discharge consent permits issued by the Department for Infrastructure.
8. Whilst these measures have mitigated further contamination, they did not address the possibility of PFOS moving through the aquifer into the Plume Area. Over the course of the last twenty years, Jersey Airport / PoJ has monitored the levels of PFOS in the groundwater at various points in the Plume Area by undertaking regular sampling of natural ground water within the Plume Area.
9. To ensure that all properties have access to safe drinking water, mains water supplies were established throughout the Plume Area by Jersey Water in 2006 (following a contribution by Jersey Airport in the sum of circa £500,000) and Jersey Airport / PoJ have subsequently offered connection of all properties in the Plume Area to the mains water supply at their cost. To date, 67 properties in the Plume Area have been connected to mains water and 11 remain unconnected. Given the sensitivity of the issue, and as a conservative and interim measure whilst water testing was ongoing, Jersey Airport put in place a wide regime by which all connected properties in the Plume Area that could be affected, whether actually affected or not, had their water rates paid.
10. As an additional precaution (particularly to address residents of those properties which have not been connected to mains water), PoJ has offered free bottled water to all residents within the Plume Area.
CURRENT POSITION – OCTOBER 2016
11. As mentioned above, the majority of the properties in the Plume Area are connected to mains water. PoJ is willing to connect (at its expense) any properties in the Plume Area that have not been connected
12. Jersey Airport/PoJ has carried out water testing for over twenty years, and have obtained appropriate expert advice on the movement of PFOS through the aquifer in the Plume Area. Therefore, PoJ is now able to determine (by reference to the Threshold) whether, as a consequence of the historic contamination, the groundwater of properties in the Plume Area are contaminated with PFOS, or are likely to be contaminated with PFOS in the future.
13. This matter has a long and complicated history involving many individual properties and property owners. The circumstances relating to each property in the Plume Area vary and therefore it is not appropriate or achievable to treat all property owners the same. It is fair and reasonable that PoJ does not overcompensate or compensate those who have not suffered any loss and/or have no nexus with the historic contamination.
14. PoJ will attempt to reach a settlement (on a case by case basis) with those property owners in the Plume Area which it considers have been affected by the historic contamination.