Are we seeing a mockery of Environmental Permits? You may be aware that the States of Jersey Development Company (SoJDC) are developing the Horizon site on part of the reclaimed Waterfront area near the Radisson. You may also be aware that the entire reclamation area is highly contaminated. We have been keeping a close eye on the development.
Strict conditions (shown at the end of this post) apply to contaminated groundwater, which must be pumped out from the site, filtered through sand in special tanks and then pumped into a designated soakaway before it is allowed to go back to sea; the sea, in this case, is known as ‘controlled waters’.
But what happens when we get a high spring tide like this morning’s? The incoming sea quickly made the Horizon excavation resemble an Olympic size swimming pool, we must ask if these regulations are just plain absurd? We put ‘what water?’ on the photo, as some appear to think there is none.
Of course, the slightest puddle of rainwater that sits in the excavation must be pumped out of the site, filtered through sand and released through a special soakaway, so this morning SOS Jersey contacted the issuer of the relevant Permit (Head of Water Resource Management & Regulation) and enquired about the current permit with regards sea water.
At of time of writing, we are still awaiting a reply; we sincerely hope we do not get the same answer that we have heard before when querying a similar situation: that, as this is sea water, it can go back to the sea without being treated first.
Environment officers have in the past maintained that as the waterfront is tidal that the sea is exempt from control. Normally, deep below the Waterfront, the leaching of contaminants happens but very slowly.
However, once a building site creates a deep pit (particularly towards the seaward edge of the Waterfront), the tidal flow accelerates due to increased hydro-pneumatic forces and pushes up through the contaminated fill on the rising tide; it is sucked out again at equal speed.
During this time the seawater will pick up contaminants, which, in suspension or in solution, are taken out to sea. Not only is this simply just appalling, the currents can sweep contaminants around to our valuable Ramsar area.
SOS Jersey feels that, as the sea is designated ‘controlled waters’, these waters should be equally subject to regulation.
The fact that it is impossible to stop this happening and the harm that uncontrolled release of toxins into the sea, seems to escape those who plan these projects.
It also seems that States funded capital projects seem to be immune from being pursued by the Regulatory authorities as we have in the past evidenced.
We are monitoring the situation and report soon.
Here are the relevant conditions:
2.1 The Discharge shall consist solely of trade effluent comprising of treated groundwater arising from dewatering of groundworks at the Horizon development site.
2.2 All of the Discharge shall pass through a settlement tank and sand filter prior to the soakaway as described in the Groundwater Treatment System Method Statement.
3.1 The Discharge shall be made at the place specified as grid reference 41413 65478.