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Investigations under way into PFOS use

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INVESTIGATIONS are under way to establish whether the Jersey Fire and Rescue Service has ever used firefighting foam containing a potentially cancer-causing pollutant, it has been confirmed.

Environment Minister John Young .. Picture: TonyPikephotographer. (24413168)

Tests are currently under way on boreholes across the Island after traces of perfluorooctane sulphonate were discovered in private water supplies near the Airport.

PFOS was formerly used in firefighting foam at the Airport, and run-off from the fire service training ground there was previously found to have polluted an area of St Ouen’s Bay.

Earlier this year, a separate area of lower-level PFOS contamination was identified to the north of the Airport – pollution that it is believed was caused by foam used on a plane crash in 1980.

As well as widening the testing area to find out the extent of the Island’s PFOS problem, work is now under way to ascertain whether any foam used by the Jersey Fire and Rescue Service contained the chemical.

A spokesman for the service said: ‘We are currently conducting investigations to formally establish whether or not PFOS has been used by the SJFRS in the past. At this time we cannot find any evidence to demonstrate that we have ever stocked PFOS containing firefighting foams.

‘The foam in service now is called Ecopol. The information we have available is that Ecopol is ISO 14001-compliant and so also complies with European directives published in 2006 prohibiting the use of PFOS-containing foams.’

GPs were recently issued with health advice regarding PFOS, and guidance for borehole-users Islandwide has been updated and reissued following the discovery of the latest pollution. It includes advice that pregnant women, nursing mothers and children under five should not drink borehole water unless it is known exactly what it contains.

Borehole owners are being urged to ensure they are registered with the Environment Department to make sure they receive advice and information, and can be contacted if needed.

Environment Minister John Young is due to receive an interim report on the testing and related matters by the end of the month. A PFOS oversight group is meeting regularly to discuss the issue.

Lucy Stephenson

By Lucy Stephenson
author

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