Dunford Parish Council is setting up an action group amid calls to shut down the R Plevin wood recycling plant in Crow Edge, scene of two self-combusting fires in chippings in recent weeks.
At a public meeting with MP Angela Smith, officials from the fire brigade, medical and environmental officials from Barnsley Council and Public Health England, people living near the site demanded assurances that smoke and ongoing dust were safe.
Allen Pestell, chair of Dunford Parish Council, who lives in Crow Edge, said there were more worries than just the fire. “It’s also the dust issue,” he said, “it’s a health and safety issue about the man who died and a man who had both his legs broken.
“We do feel a safety clamp should be put on that site. We want the site shutting temporarily, get the woodpile down, fire hoses in place.”
Runoff water from the fire had polluted local rivers, he said.
Relations between Plevin and the village were now at rock bottom. “They have got now to build trust back up. It’s up to them to do it, not us.”
Villagers discussed buying their own monitoring equipment following and hope to meet people living near other Plevin sites in Manchester and Lincolnshire.
Ms Smith said while feelings ran high, residents had been sensible in trying to find out what the rules were.
“Everybody’s concerned to find out what the regulations are governing the operation, whether or not those regulations have been breached and what can be done to put it all right,” she said.
In a statement, Plevin Managing Director Jamie Plevin said: “We always operate to ensure that we are compliant to EU guidelines regarding dust emissions.
“Health and safety is of the upmost importance to us. Full investigations are currently taking place, co-operating with the relevant authorities, to determine how these unrelated incidents occurred.
“The wood tonnages on site are under those permitted in the environmental permit. We are working alongside the Environment Agency to further reduce the quantity of wood on site which will reduce overall tonnages and also improve our operating procedures,” Mr Plevin went on.
“The monitoring regime meets the requirements and is being assessed by the relevant authorities on an ongoing basis. Existing wood piles are being closely monitored at agreed intervals using a thermal imaging camera and the use of temperature probes.
“At the request of South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue we have made provision on site to allow a fast access to pumps and hoses. We have purchased a further fire engine in addition to the one that we had and have fully trained staff that can respond to any further incidents at the site. We are working on restoring the on-site lagoons to former water holding capacity.
“Essential drainage work is taking place to manage run off water. We are investigating the installation of attenuation systems which will provide additional control to manage water run off.
“Contaminated water is currently being tankered away from nearby lagoons for treatment and recycling. This may be causing odours and we sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused whilst this essential work is being carried out. The lagoons are being cleared to restore to previous capacity and will not be made deeper.”