Wood pellet production at Dalkiaâ€™s biomass plant in Chilton, County Durham, has been stopped while the Environment Agency investigates dust emissions at the site
Energy firm Dalkia has stopped operations at its wood pellet producing facility in Chilton, County Durham, while the Environment Agency carries out an investigation regarding alleged dust emissions from the facility.
Dalkia, a subsidiary of French waste management firm Veolia Environnement and energy giant EDF, said it was working with the Agency to determine whether the dust was coming from its facility or elsewhere in the area.
The investigation follows air quality complaints made to the Agency about the facility, but it is not yet known when this investigation will be completed.
Concerns were raised about the Dalkia plant and dust emissions by householders in the area. Chilton resident Davey Chapman told letsrecycle.com that the Chilton facility was â€œnoisy, dusty and the smell is atrocious â€“ residents are having to keep windows closed.â€
The wood pellet produced at the facility is made from grade A wood waste and used as fuel offsite at both Dalkia and local authority boiler houses in the UK.
Dalkia also has a separate biomass energy facility at the Chilton site which burns wood chip from grade B, C and D waste wood to produce heat and energy for the national grid. However, this section of the site is not being investigated and is still operating as normal.
Nick Burchett, a spokesman for Dalkia, told letsrecycle.com that the Agency investigation was ongoing. He said: â€œThere is no Agency ruling on it yet, but as soon as we received the complaints we stopped the plant operating as a matter of course to see if it was the plant causing the problems. The EA is working with us to find out what the problem is.
â€œWe have to find out if this is actually the cause of the problem, or if it is the result of construction work from elsewhere in the area. If there is a problem at our facility we will put it right.â€
According to Mr Burchett, Dalkia takes grade A waste wood for processing into pellets at the plant from a variety of contractors within a 50-mile radius of the Chilton site.
A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: â€œThe Environment Agency is investigating complaints of excessive dust emissions from Dalkia Bioenergy Ltdâ€™s wood pelleting plant in Chilton. We are currently working with the company to help them find solutions to the problem. Dalkia have responded positively to the issue and have temporarily ceased operations at the site to reduce the impact on the local environment. They are also working on an action plan to find longer-term solutions.â€
The Â£40 million Chilton biomass plant was one of the first biomass facilities developed in the UK. It began operating in October 2011 and is capable of burning up to 120,000 tonnes of waste wood per year to produce 17.5MW of renewable electricity and heat for the national grid.