Please see following statement from the Environment Agency regarding odours emanating from Chatham Docks. If residents have any complaints or comments to make, please call the Environment Agency Hotline on 0800 807060.
The Environment Agency (EA) is working with its partners and the owner of Chatham Docks, Peel Ports, to resolve the current odour issues being experienced in the area surrounding the docks.
The EA is working with the Health Protection Agency and Kent Fire and Rescue Service to tackle the problem which has been causing strong odours to affect nearby communities.
The root cause of the odour is from stockpiles of wood chip that are being stored at the site prior to onward shipment to Sweden where the material is used in the generation of heat and electricity. Recent movements of the wood chip, that had been on the dockside for longer than is typically expected, resulted in the release of odours associated with the natural degradation of the wood. These odours have been carried off site by the wind, and have caused a nuisance to those living near the site.
The Environment Agency has prioritised efforts on this site and the activities that are giving rise to the odours. The agencies have recommended a number of measures to minimise the smell. Peel Ports have cooperated and have plans in place to ensure that the material will be moved to Sweden as soon as possible. They have made promises to bring equipment on site to minimise the problem in the interim. These measures will include dust suppression systems designed to control airborne particles and odours.
Dr Mathi Chandrakumar, Director of the HPA’s Kent Health Protection Unit, said ”Some people reported irritation to their eyes and throats as a result of the smell. Odours can cause symptoms like these but very rarely are there long lasting ill effects. As the wood has not been treated with any hazardous substances, it is unlikely to cause any long term effect on public health. Results from the initial testing by Kent Fire and Rescue Service of the air quality around the smouldering wood yesterday show that what is being produced is what you would expect from a normal wood fire with no toxic hazard. However, we have recommended to the Environment Agency and site operators that longer term air quality monitoring is carried out and we will continue to monitor results.”
Jon Griffin, Environment Agency Senior Environment Officer said “We understand that strong odour can cause a lot of distress to communities. This site and the reported issues are a top priority and we are working with the operator, Peel Ports, to resolve the problems related to their activities as quickly as possible. In the interim we would appreciate anyone who is experiencing odour and dust problems to call our hotline on 0800 807060.”