PFOS – questions and answers
Updated: 05 December 2019
Q1. What has the Airport done about the issue to date?
A1. When the contamination occurred, Jersey Airport put in place a suite of measures to ensure any property in the Plume Area that might have been affected had access to safe drinking water. This included installing and connecting almost every property to a mains supply and, as an interim measure whilst the testing of groundwater was on-going, paying water rates of connected properties in the Plume Area. This was irrespective of whether the property was affected by the historic contamination or not.
Ports of Jersey (PoJ) has been continually monitoring the groundwater of the Plume Area, and now has a long history of readings. Where property owners have agreed, PoJ has made these results available on our website. Accordingly, Ports of Jersey is now able to ascertain those properties that have and continue to be affected by the historic contamination.
Ports of Jersey on incorporation assumed responsibility for reviewing the issues arising out of the historic contamination and have been carefully working through each property to determine a fair and reasonable course of action.
Q2. Why has this taken so long to resolve?
A2. At the time of the contamination there was a high degree of uncertainty as to the extent of the historic contamination and which properties were affected. The former Harbours & Airport Committee and subsequently the Ministers for Economic Development took a conservative and immediate precautionary approach of addressing this issue in terms of ensuring that all properties in the Plume Area had the opportunity to access mains water, whilst monitoring the overall situation by taking regular groundwater samples.
This matter has a long and complicated history involving many individual properties and property owners, which has resulted in the interim arrangements continuing for a considerable time and without a conclusion having been reached. Ports of Jersey remain keen to move matters forward and will now 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.
Q3. How many properties were affected and how many still are?
A3. 76 properties (both residential & commercial) were identified in the Plume Area. The groundwater at only 36 properties have tested positive for PFOS above the recognised wholesomeness threshold (see Background Summary). Some of these properties, which previously tested positive are now below the threshold. To date, the groundwater at the remaining 40 properties have either had no PFOS readings, or PFOS readings that are below the recognised wholesomeness threshold (see Background Summary).
To date, 74 properties in the Plume Area have been connected to a mains water supply and two properties remain unconnected, although they can be connected at any time.
Q4. When and how is this going to be resolved?
A4. The historic contamination issue has a long and complicated history involving many Government Departments, 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 Ports of Jersey does not overcompensate or compensate those who have not suffered any loss and have no nexus with the historic contamination. Ports of Jersey is keen to bring matters to a conclusion. Where it is reasonable, Ports of Jersey 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.
Q5. Is it a fact that Ports of Jersey is reneging on the settlement previously agreed by the Government to compensate those affected?
A5. No. Whilst discussions have previously taken place with various property owners within the Plume Area, no agreement or settlement had been reached at the point of incorporation. Ports of Jersey has subsequently entered into settlement agreements with some property owners and continue to move this process on and finally bring matters to a conclusion.
Q6. Have there been any reported instances of illness as a result of the contamination?
A6. Not to the knowledge of Ports of Jersey.
Q7. Has any tax payer’s money been spent on this?
A7. No. Funds were previously allocated from Jersey Airport Trading Fund and subsequently financial responsibility has now been passed to Ports of Jersey Limited.
Q8. How much has been spent dealing with this issue?
A8. Costs associated with PFOS contamination have totalled circa £7.5m as at Q4 2018, which can be broken down as follows:
|Expenditure Type||Total – £|
includes engineering costs of installing & monitoring boreholes, ongoing sampling and Analytical
|Connection to water supplies||182,076|
|Payments of Water Rates to Jersey Water||401,217|
|Remedial Works associated to Old Fire Training Ground||309,982|
|Jersey Water Mains Connection Costs||560,863|
|Capital Works – Fire Training Ground||4,366,137|
Q9 – What ongoing water sampling testing is being undertaken?
A9 – Sampling of water supply wells and boreholes has been carried out for many years in the St Ouen’s Bay area and a substantial database of water quality information has been collated. Where property owners have agreed, PoJ has made these results available on our website. Ongoing sampling is undertaken to assess the presence and concentrations of certain components of fire-fighting foams, which have historically been used at the Airport. Based on the results obtained and the advice received, it is considered that the extent of the contaminant plume is stable, and the boundary of the plume will remain consistent. Following consultation with Environmental Health and Water Resources, 11 sites have been selected to identify any changes (extent and concentrations) in the plume of contamination. The results for each site are posted on this website.
‘information provided by AECOM’
In 2019, the Government of Jersey also undertook testing around the Island and its testing regime and those results can be found in a report titled ‘PFAS and water quality in Jersey 2019’, which is available on the Government of Jersey website at:
Q10 – What is a Barrier Pipe?
A10 – A Barrier Pipe is a reinforced pipe used to protect water supplies against certain types of contaminants in the soil that could damage standard pipes, possibly putting water quality at risk. Barrier Pipes are available in many materials, including ductile iron, plastic-coated copper and multi-layer plastic pipes with a metal layer.
It should be noted that Barrier Pipes should only be necessary where the pipe passes through known contaminated ground and/or groundwater. The principal area of contaminated soil is immediately below the Airport Fire Training Ground and there are no water supply pipes in this area.
‘information provided by AECOM’
Q11 – Can I use a water filter?
A11 – Water treatment methods such as the use of granular activated carbon (GAC) and reverse osmosis can be effective in the removal of PFOS/PFOA to acceptable concentrations. However, it should be noted that the majority of the successful treatment examples relate to PFOA or to concentrations of PFOS much lower than the maximum concentrations recorded in the groundwater in the St Ouen’s Bay area.
Whilst it would appear that methods are available for removing PFOS and PFOA from small scale water supplies, there are a number of practical issues, which are likely to make this unviable, these being:
- Additional storage of treated water partly due to the time taken for water to pass through the filter;
- Detailed prior assessment and significant monitoring costs of each affected source to establish a robust treatment regime;
- Disposal of used filters and spent GAC;
- Regular maintenance; and,
- Bacteriological issues.
Where a mains water supply is available this would be by far the preferred method of providing a safe, reliable and cost-effective potable water supply.
‘information provided by AECOM’
Q12 – What fire-fighting foam does Ports of Jersey now use?
Ports of Jersey currently use a combination of Angus FFFP (C6 fluorinated foam) and Angus Jet Foam (a fluorine free foam). We will have completed a transition to 100% Angus Jet Foam early in 2020, as Jet Foam is a biodegradable foam concentrate and meets the ICAO level B certification.