More contamination than suspected on the Esplanade

  • Unexpected levels of incinerator ash found on town car park site
  • The first of six new office blocks is currently being built by the States-owned Jersey Development Company
  • Soil samples taken from the area were sent to the UK for testing a month ago
  • Re-live the protests over the site with pictures and videos below

THE percentage of incinerator ash buried on the Esplanade car park site is four to five times greater than expected, according to samples taken from the land.

Contractors are currently drilling down into the site at the corner of Castle Street, where the first of six new office blocks is being built by the States-owned Jersey Development Company.

The reclaimed land contains toxic landfill, including asbestos and both bottom ash and fly ash from the old Bellozanne incinerator which was dumped in the area in the 1980s.

Soil samples taken from the area were sent to the UK for testing a month ago.

6 – The number of office blocks proposed for the site

200,000 – The amount of office space in square feet former Treasury Minister Philip Ozouf said would have to be pre-let before work could begin. Senator Maclean said this was a mistake

13 – The number of prospective tenants supposedly in talks to move into the development

16,000 – The square footage to be taken by Swiss bank UBS, with the option of a further 7,000 sq ft

1,200 – The number of people who have signed a petition to halt the development

£50 million – The amount the JDC estimate the development could return to the Treasury Department

JDC managing director Lee Henry said that of 108 samples, 24 contained traces of ‘non-licensed’ asbestos – such as that contained in ceiling tiles – which could be removed by non-licensed contractors for storage in lined pits at La Collette.

However, Mr Henry said that the samples had been found to contain a greater quantity of ash deposits than previously thought.

‘We had estimated between four and five per cent, but the results show around 20 per cent,’ he said.

‘The sub-contractor has told us that 30 to 40 per cent of that material can be recycled, so those contaminated areas will be taken to ash cells for sorting and then put into lined pits, which are already in existence.’

Mr Henry added that the additional cost of dealing with the increased ash would be about £50,000 because of the extra tipping charges and the cost of testing additional samples.

Treasury Minister Alan Maclean told the States last month that that the levels of contamination were ‘deemed to be very low indeed’ and that ‘contractors were following the necessary rules’.

However, environmental campaigners have been lobbying for better protection for the public. David Cabeldu, the spokesman for environmental campaigners Save Our Shoreline, said that whereas workers on the site were wearing protective masks, members of the public walking a few yards away had no protection apart from a sheet of shutterboard.

‘If our concerns are proved correct, there is a public health risk, and we would suggest that the public do not go past this area, particularly if it is windy,’ he warned.

‘Even if the contamination level is lower, as the JDC suggests, it would seem common sense not to go past the area.’

Last month, workers wearing protective clothing were spotted at the Esplanade car park

States Health and Safety director Tammy Fage said: ‘I fully expect them to come across pockets, because of the nature of the land and what it was used for.

‘We are aware of the work, we have liaised with the contractors and we are satisfied that they have all the necessary controls in place.

‘We have always known about the potential for asbestos, but it is no different from all the other developments on the Waterfront.

‘Our inspectors are visiting regularly – a lot of workers are not masked up, and we do not suit up.’

Mrs Fage said that her department was only responsible for the safety of people at work, but not for members of the public who were off the site.

‘Obviously, airborne asbestos fibres could be breathed in by anybody and obviously you can never say that will not be produced.

‘There is asbestos in many places across the Island, so it is about making sure that any disturbance is under control,’ she said.

Transport and Technical Services have not responded to the JEP’s inquiries, and Environment Minister Steve Luce said that he was not aware of any complaints regarding the site.

Back in June, around 2,000 Islanders opposed to the scheme to develop six office blocks created a ‘ring of defiance’ around the car park:

Two weeks later, dozens of protestors then gathered in the Royal Square to voice their opposition to the controversial Jersey International Finance Centre:

VIDEO: Watch protesters question States Members in the Royal Square:

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