Jersey Water says that mains supplies “comfortably” meet new international standards for harmful “forever chemicals” introduced following a report from a local campaign group that raised concerns.
Both the UK and EU have recently issued updated standards and guidance for a family of man-made chemicals called PFAS that were an ingredient of many products, including frying pans, floor tiles and firefighting foam sprayed at Jersey's Airport.
A growing body of science has found that there are potential adverse health impacts associated with PFAS exposure, including liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, high cholesterol, obesity, hormone suppression and cancer.
PFAS has been found to be in water supplies throughout the Island, especially around the Airport, where toxic foam was regularly sprayed until the early 1990s. Many residents living around the aerodrome believe their health has been affected by drinking water contaminated with PFAS, specifically one of the family called PFOS.
High levels of PFAS have been found in streams, ponds and boreholes in and around St. Ouen’s Bay and in the Pont Marquet water catchment, which runs from the Airport to St. Aubin.
Pictured: A Government map showing the area of contamination in St. Ouen’s Bay.
A recently released report by campaign group SOS Jersey said that: “An investigation undertaken by SOS Jersey and others in 2020 revealed that not only those with private boreholes were being affected but that heavily PFAS contaminated States-owned boreholes nearby were being pumped into a primary source for the island’s mains water supply, Val de la Mare reservoir, and subsequently, via the central treatment works to every mains outlet in the island.”
The group is calling for the soil around and below the Airport’s fire training ground - the principal source of the contamination - to be dug up and replaced, as happened in Guernsey.
This year, the UK and EU have tightened their regulatory standards for PFAS chemicals.
Jersey Water, however, says that mains water is safe and extraction from PFAS-contaminated boreholes is controlled through blending and dilution.
The company’s Chief Executive Officer, Helier Smith, said: “Drinking water supplied by Jersey Water is safe and of the highest quality, meeting relevant drinking water regulatory limits by a comfortable standard.
“Jersey Water monitors both treated and untreated water for PFAS on a regular basis.
“The science around PFAS is evolving and ongoing and water quality regulation is changing to keep up with the latest scientific knowledge.
“The new EU Drinking Water Quality Directive came into force on 12 January 2021 and introduces regulatory limits for PFAS. Jersey Water already fully complies with the new EU regulations by a comfortable margin.
“Separately, in January, the UK Drinking Water Inspectorate issued new regulatory guidance notes for PFOS and PFOA. Jersey Water also fully complies with these limits by a comfortable margin.
“The limits set in the UK and EU are based on the worldwide scientific evidence to date and take a precautionary approach, include a wide margin for safety and are protective of health. Full compliance with those very new regulations provides assurance as to the quality of the mains drinking water supply in Jersey.”
Mr Smith added that Jersey Water continued to call for remediation of PFAS pollution in St. Ouen’s Bay and Pont Marquet.
Pictured: “Drinking water supplied by Jersey Water is safe and of the highest quality," Jersey Water's CEO said.
“These are important water resources in an island which is already water stressed in times of drought,” he said “Resolving the PFAS pollution would allow increased water abstraction from these sources and reduce the risk of future water shortages in dry weather.
“Jersey Water has been working with the Government as part of an Officer Technical Group and has also commissioned its own study into PFAS treatment technologies available.
“In the meantime, water quality from these sources is effectively controlled using blending and dilution, both well recognised and widely practiced forms of water treatment, to comfortably achieve full compliance with all regulatory limits for PFAS.”
A hydrogeological survey of St. Ouen’s Bay and Pont Marquet is due to begin in June.
Last month, Express revealed that the Government was legally obliged to provide information to 3M, the manufacturer of the airport firefighting foam, to help the chemical giant defend claims made against it, including by islanders who believe their health has been affected.
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