A panel of experts that will recommend how the island deals with a toxic chemical in its water linked to cancer and birth defects is expected to be up and running by July.
The Government is currently setting up a ‘PFAS Scientific Advisory Panel’ – which will provide independent advice and recommendations to ministers and civil servants on how they deal with the chemical, which is found in high concentrations in St. Ouen’s Bay and at trace levels in mains drinking water.
Last year, residents who lived a ‘plume area’ spreading out from the Airport – one of the primary sources of PFAS contamination – were invited to take part in a Government-funded blood-testing programme.
Every single islander tested was found to have PFAS in their blood, with 80% having at least one type of the man-made chemical at a high concentration.
The results were described by one campaigner as "truly shocking".
Giving an update today, Professor Peter Bradley, the Government’s Director of Public Health: “Last week I emailed Islanders who had their blood tested for levels of PFAS to update them on the development of the PFAS Scientific Advisory Panel.
“The purpose of the panel is to coordinate and provide expert advice on PFAS issues to enable an effective and evidenced based approach to inform decision-making in response to PFAS matters on the Island.
“The formation of this panel has been approved by the Council of Ministers.
Pictured: Director of Public Health Professor Peter Bradley.
“We are now writing documents for the panel, including a Terms of Reference. This sets out the responsibilities and accountabilities of the panel and the way meetings will be conducted.
“We have also started the process to identify suitable experts for the panel and will be sending out an invitation for expressions of interest.
“I would like to thank the residents who have made suggestions for experts, and we have included these in our invitations.
“I am expecting that the first meeting of the panel will be during the second quarter of this year.
He added: “I will provide a further update to the PFAS community to announce the panel members and the topics they will be exploring in due course.
“My commitment is to share the developments with this group before sharing publicly where possible.
"The next update is likely to be in the late part of this quarter or the early part of quarter two.”
Responding to the latest update, St. Ouen's Bay resident Sarah Simon, who has campaigned for more Government action on PFAS, said: “I am fully in support of the Government taking responsibility in setting up a panel, for the benefit of the whole island.
“I’m also pleased that the Government has invited me and number of other residents to be involved in the selection process. We have a meeting next week, when we will be able to pose questions to the candidates for panel chair.
“However, I am concerned that the chair could be a layperson with little knowledge of PFAS and the issues around it, and precious time could be wasted getting them up to speed.
“Every other panel set up around the world in countries like Sweden and Denmark has been chaired by a PFAS expert. It makes sense to me that Jersey’s panel is led by someone who is already aware of the issues.”
Asked what she would like to see at the end of the process, Ms Simon said: “Ultimately, there needs to be the complete eradication of PFAS from drinking water in Jersey.
“Secondly, because damage has already been done to so many islanders, including children, there has to be policies in place for all clinicians in Jersey to help them better understand PFAS poisoning and how that can affect health.
“And if there are going to be trials put in place around blood-letting [removing PFAS-contaminated blood to allow the body to naturally replenish itself with clean blood], then it needs to be offered to all islanders and not just those who lived in and around St. Ouen’s Bay.”
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