Slough Borough Council: there WAS a particulate cloud – but it didn’t come from Grundon

A particulate cloud DID cover Colnbrook on Friday 5th according to environmental experts. Actually it covered everywhere except the immediate vicinity of Grundon’s incinerator.

Grundon's Energy from Waste facility saw "excellent" air quality while the rest of the South-East saw high levels of PM10.

Grundon’s Energy from Waste facility saw “excellent” air quality on the 5th while the rest of the South-East saw high levels of PM10.

Slough Borough Council has confirmed its view that the pollution spike at the Lakeside 2 monitoring station was due to faulty equipment.

Jason Newman for SBC’s Environmental Quality team said levels such as those recorded on 5 September should not be possible other than directly at the point of discharge.

The spurious spike which showed a level of 985ug/m3 seen in the provisional data sets was caused by the analyser fault and this data has now been rejected as erroneous data. I would add that these sorts of level would never be recorded in the ambient environment. There is potential for these sorts of levels to be recorded at a stack discharge point but once the pollutants have dispersed and diluted into the atmosphere the concentrations are significantly less at ground level.

Lakeside 2 is 100 metres from the EfW plant.

However in an unexpected twist he also confirmed Colnbrook was affected by unusually high levels of PM10 on the 5th September. The particulate cloud also covered the whole of Slough and much of the south-east.

The cloud explains why the other Colnbrook monitoring stations also reported elevated levels on the 5th. The appearance of the cloud at the same time as the fault was coincidence.

The cloud is believed to have spread from continental Europe, Mr Newman said in an emailed response to Cllr Walsh also sent to parish councillors.

That would have meant that particulates had travelled hundreds or thousands of miles when normally 30 miles would be unusual for all but the much smaller PM2.5 particles. The 5th September saw relatively wind free conditions and an unseasonably high 30c in Colnbrook.

The current system of reporting “exceedences” of daily or yearly averages means operators can continue burning even when ambient levels are already high. ¬†Current targets allow daily averages to breach acceptable levels 35 times a year. Colnbrook Views yesterday called for a new upper limit alert for residents and better safeguards.

Nevertheless Danny Coulston, Director of Operations, in a written reply to Cllr Walsh on Thursday, stated that air quality recorded by the company was actually “excellent” during the time of the erroneous data spike despite the high levels recorded everywhere else.

Danny Coulston, Director of Operations at Grundon's Energy from Waste facility at Colnbrook Lakeside.

Danny Coulston, Director of Operations at Grundon’s Energy from Waste facility at Colnbrook Lakeside.

While the Lakeside 2 Osiris station reported “high” levels, one of the Pippins School stations recorded “very high” readings along with Slough Town Centre. ¬†Emissions were just 0.4 mg/Nm3 for the day and only 0.08 mg/Nm3 for the times in question, according to Coulston.

The anomaly of Grundon’s own readings remains unexplained but would have made Grundon’s “Energy from Waste” facility the safest place to be in Colnbrook that day.

Cllr Walsh has called on lessons to be learnt by the company, particularly with regard to the way it communicates with residents. It does share information with the Lakeside Forum – and through it the Parish Council – but this is not shared with residents.

He made the following statement:

“Reports that very high levels of PM10 particulates were recorded in Colnbrook over an eight-hour period on September 5 caused many of us a great deal of concern during the past three weeks.

“However, I am happy that an investigation I requested by SBC’s environmental team has found that the readings were caused by a fault in the equipment, and not by excessive pollution. I have requested that the Council be kept better informed about this kind of unusual activity in future so that we can all get a better understanding of what’s going on a lot sooner.”

Colnbrook Views yesterday also published 10 questions we feel residents need answers to in order to reestablish trust.


Related Links

Air Info Now

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10 Questions Grundon needs to answer to reassure Colnbrook
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