By BROOKE STEVENSON
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE — A resident still believes the noise generated by a company near her house is intolerable, even though a study done by police showed it to be reasonable.
Marie Douglass of Plum Street, along with other residents, has submitted several complaints to the City Council since February of last year about the noise coming from Cadon Plating Co., 3715 11th, a few blocks from Douglass’ house. However, police found no wrongdoing by the local finishing company after taking random sound level readings near the plant in January.
Readings were taken in front of Douglass’ house, which is directly east of Cadon, along with control samples taken away from the site adjacent to the east side of Pulaski Park on 12th.
Police used a decibel sound-measuring device that calculated decibel levels for an average period of three and a half minutes.
The samples were taken during different times of day over a two-week period to establish a reliable average to determine ambient sound levels.
“When standing outside of Ms. Douglass’ home, you can hear what sounds like a compressor motor operating, which is located at the east side of the Cadon Plating building,” Police Chief Dan Grant said after the study.
A regenerative thermal oxidizer unit mounted on the southeast corner of the building’s roof is the device emitting the noise. It runs constantly as part of the plating process.
The RTO is a “fume destructor,” Plant Manager Joseph Gooding said, that was installed five years ago as a result of government mandates. He said the equipment generating the noise is working properly and has been for the last five years.
In order to compare the various decibel sound levels at different locations throughout the city, additional sound samples were taken from Douglass’ house when a train was passing, with no whistle blowing and from Goodell Street at First, which is approximately 1/8 of a mile from the BASF industrial complex.
The average reading during a train passage was 75 decibels, and the average from the residential area at First and Goodell was 69 decibels. In front of her house when a train was not passing was 64 decibels, and 65 decibels behind the south side of her house.
Sixty decibels is comparable to conversation in a restaurant or office, background music or an air-conditioning unit from 100 feet away. Seventy decibels is comparable to a passenger car at 65 mph from 25 feet away or a vacuum cleaner.
According to police, decibels in the 60s are fairly quiet, and those in the upper 70s are annoyingly loud to some people.
Grant said he cannot determine what effect the ambient noise levels have on Douglass and her family, but can attest that the levels at her home are consistent or lower than levels in other residential areas of the city.
Douglass now says the sounds have a great impact on her and her family, and that she has had to wear earplugs to drown out the persistent noise.
“Earplugs are a deterrent, that is true, but they are a detriment to both my safety and my health,” she said. “I cannot hear if someone comes into my home, and I also get ear infections from wearing them too long.”
She added that the person who performed the noise study should “be exposed to this disturbance as often as persons in the area are either denied a quiet environment to sleep or are abruptly aroused by the unwelcome, annoying and upsetting disturbance.”
According to Douglass, the plant has reduced the amount of time the noise is being generated, but it still is occurring early in the morning and late at night. She said the noise did not subside until 11:30 p.m. Feb. 20, and that it began at 4:30 a.m. the next day.
“It is unfair to me as a resident to be subjected to this,” Douglass said.
She has lived in her house for 24 years and said the noise has been excessive only for the last year.
“The only (solution) to the matter I can suggest is Cadon be required to erect a sound barrier wall between the (RTO) and residences,” she said. “Nothing short of a sound barrier will come close to alleviating the problem.”
The council took no action on Douglass’ complaint, but placed her letter on file and sent a copy to Cadon Plating.