Neighbors concerned about health risks of proposed wood chipper - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Neighbors concerned about health risks of proposed wood chipper

(WMC-TV) - Residents in a Memphis neighborhood said they want no part of a proposed mulch processing plant in the area.

Businesses within walking distance of the proposed wood chopping facility on Knight Arnold Road are afraid the business would risk their property values, their quality of life, and their health.

Longtime Memphian Michael Potts wants to put an industrial-sized wood chipper on dozens of acres of land he purchased on Knight Arnold Road.

"I thought it would be perfect to consolidate my office and my equipment," said Potts.

Potts is not getting a warm welcome in the neighborhood.

Pastor James Henderson said the facility does not belong 1,240 feet from his church, which is also home to a daycare.

"The potential for smoke, fumes, gases to be released in the air around the population is too much," said Henderson.

The proposed wood chipper is within walking distance to two city schools, a hospital, and a senior rehab center.

"I just don't think it's worth the risk," said Henderson.

Whether the operation presents a potential health hazard is up for debate.  Opponents commissioned a child impact study from the University of Memphis citing the release of toxins that could result in severe health effects.

Potts said the University of Memphis study is flawed.

"Almost all of his references in that study related to composting, and composting are two very different processes that create two very different products," said Potts.

Potts obtained his own studies about the health effects of chipping wood.

"We have provided expert testimony and studies that show that there's no impact on the surrounding neighbors," said Potts.

The city's Land Use Control Board approved the mulch plant by an eight to one vote at their meeting Thursday.  Opponents of the plant hope they can convince city council members to shut down the plan before it gets off the ground.

Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly