Concerns about the levels of dust deposition in the vicinity of coal-fired power stations in North Yorkshire, in particular Drax Power Station, prompted the commissioning of a detailed monitoring study in the area. This paper describes the first two years’ work.

The first 12-month study concentrated on the village of Barlow close to Drax Power Station, whilst in the second 12-month study, monitoring sites were spread along a transect passing through the power station belt formed by Ferrybridge, Eggborough and Drax Power Stations.

Two monitoring sites were common to both 12-month studies, thus giving two years of continuous monitoring. Pairs of wet Frisbee dust deposit gauges (based on inverted Frisbees) were located at each site. Undissolved particulate matter from each gauge was weighed and characterized by microscopic examination of individual particles.

The first 12-month study revealed a downward gradient in dust deposition rate and cenosphere content with distance from Drax Power Station. The high cenosphere content at Barlow, especially at the eastern end, suggested that there was a significant contribution from coal-fired power stations.

In the second year, the overall pattern of dust deposition rate and cenosphere content across the power station belt suggested that power stations were contributing to higher levels. In particular, relatively high levels were again found at Barlow. Wind direction correlations point to the fly-ash tip next to Drax Power Station as being the source of cenospheres arriving at Barlow.

It is concluded that in both years the fly-ash tip Drax Power Station was making a significant contribution to higher than expected dust deposition rates at Barlow, particularly its eastern end. Other villages in the area may also have been affected by dust originating from coal-fired power stations.