Wood recycler criticises BBC dust investigation

Greater Manchester firm Plevin has criticised a BBC investigation which includes allegations from campaigners that dust from its Mossley plant is causing health problems

A wood recycling firm in North West England has criticised “unfair” and “groundless” claims regarding alleged health impacts from dust emissions at its Mossley plant in a BBC television programme broadcast on Tuesday (February 25).

Complainants interviewed on BBC1 North West’s investigative programme Inside Out allege that Plevin’s Cheshire Street plant in Mossley, Greater Manchester, emits high levels of dust as a result of its recycling of waste wood to produce farm animal bedding and chipping for biomass processing.

Plevin has assured the local community that it operates entirely within the law in an extremely heavily regulated industry

Plevin has assured the local community that it operates entirely within the law in an extremely heavily regulated industry

Members of Mossley Environmental Action Group interviewed in the programme allege that there have been incidences of respiratory problems and nose bleeds in the local area which they believe are the result of particulate matter emissions from the Plevin plant.

The BBC also referred to a World Health Organisation (WHO) review, which said there were concerns about the health impacts from concentrations of particulate matter PM2.5 below its recommended guideline of 10 micrograms per cubic metre. Standards in the UK allow concentrations of PM2.5 up to 25 micrograms per cubic metre.

Another wood recycling firm, Armstrongs Environmental Services Ltd — which processes waste wood into wood chip at its site in Horwich near Bolton — was also criticised on the BBC programme by nearby residents complaining of high dust levels coming from the site.

Below recommended limits

Armstrongs was unavailable for comment but told the BBC that monitoring carried out by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) at its site showed particulate matter levels were below recommended guidelines.

Plevin also said that monitoring and reports carried out by the HPA and the Environment Agency (EA) prove that air quality standards in Mossley are within safe and legal limits.

According to Plevin, HPA and EA monitoring of particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide at the Mossley site over a four-month period from September 2011 to January 2012 found average levels of PM2.5 at 8.2 micrograms per cubic metre.

A Plevin statement said there had been no reported problems from health professionals in the area, and that the only pollution incident during air quality monitoring was caused by bonfire night.

The statement said: “As a responsible, family-owned company, Plevin is keen to reassure residents following an item on regional BBC TV linking our wood recycling operations to alleged health problems in Mossley.”

It continued: “The content concerning Plevin was based on groundless claims made by members of a small local action group with other agendas. We want to assure the local community that we operate entirely within the law in an extremely heavily regulated industry. Environmental considerations are at the forefront of all our operations and these spurious allegations are completely unfounded.”

Regarding the BBC’s broadcast of Inside Out, the statement said: “Plevin made strong protests to the BBC production team in the weeks running up to the programme. We expressed our deep concern to its producer and its managing editor, saying we believed it was unfair of the BBC to put the spotlight on Plevin in a general debate about WHO air quality monitoring standards, especially when Plevin had been proven to have done nothing wrong.”

Seventy-one people are employed at Plevin’s wood recycling plant on Cheshire Street, Mossley, of which the company said 56 live within 10 miles of the site.


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Michael Ryan
Michael Ryan
10 years ago

I was asked by BBC Inside Out (South West) to appear and be filmed talking to a Plymouth resident concerned about the effects of incinerator emissions on children.

When the BBC told me that I’d not be allowed to speak about my research of ONS data showing elevated infant death rates at electoral ward level near existing incinerators I declined their invitation.

The BBC did, in August 2003, report the Health Protection Agency’s promise to examine health data around incinerators & landfill sites, but the BBC buried the news item at the end of one about mosquitos:

“Chemical concerns
The HPA is also launching an investigation into chemicals found in the environment amid concerns about their impact on people’s health.
In its five-year corporate plan, published on Tuesday, it said the review will look particularly at the impact of chemicals on children.
“They are especially vulnerable to infections, poisons and chemicals and physical hazards in air, water and soil,” the report states.
“Their development, health and well-being could be threatened by unsafe food and chemicals in household products and consumer goods.”
The document points out that an estimated 600 new chemicals enter the market each month, on top of the 11 million already known and 70,000 in regular use.
Studies have claimed that exposure to some chemicals can have serious effects on health, including the risk of birth defects and chronic diseases.
The HPA will also investigate public concern about the possible effects of long-term exposure to chemicals, such as those emitted from landfills, incinerators and industrial sites.
Dr Troop said: “We are not saying there is a problem. We are saying we are looking carefully to see if there is a problem or there isn’t a problem.
“The public is concerned about many of these issues and it is important that we don’t ignore it if there is a problem.”

Mosquito checks stepped up (5 Aug 2003)

Patrick Sudlow
Patrick Sudlow
11 years ago

Did Plevins supply any documented proof that the HPA and EPA found PM2.5 below limits and what equipment was used? The HPA, by the way, is not ‘fit for purpose’. In a letter to Trafford Planning about Peel Holding’s biomass incinerator, that an increase in the expected death rate was acceptable. I thought they were about protecting Human Health?

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