Noise News for Week of June 20, 1999

Excessively Loud Car Stereo's Should Be Challenged With Product Liability Lawsuits Similar to Recent Attacks on Cigarette and Firearm Manufacturers

PUBLICATION: The Oklahoma Observer
DATE: June 25, 1999
SECTION: Public Forum
BYLINE: Michael P. Wright
DATELINE: Norman, Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Observer prints an opinion piece by a resident who is consistently irritated by excessively loud stereos in so-called 'boom cars.' He cites scientific evidence of human health and safety problems caused by noise, including hearing impairment, decreased response time while driving, stress contributing to heart disease, and sleep deprivation. The author also suggests that 'Gangsta Rap', which some say contribute to increasing violence in schools, is often used to show-off loud car stereo systems; he suggests that the music's market could be somewhat undermined by attacking excessively loud car stereos, circumventing sticky constitutional issues. Finally, he suggests that product liability lawsuits should be brought against loud stereo manufacturers, similar to those recently levied against cigarette manufacturers.

NPC Noise News
NPC Home

Residents of Apache Junction, Arizona Upset at Noise from New Phoenix Airport Flight Path, Airport Officials Say Their Hands are Tied by Federal Rules

PUBLICATION: The Arizona Republic
DATE: June 26, 1999
SECTION: Mesa/Apache Junction Community; Pg. Ev1
BYLINE: by Kimberly Lamke

The Arizona Republic reports that more than 100 residents of Apache Junction, Arizona -- which has been experiencing noise from increasingly numerous flights using a newly revived flight path -- were told by Sky Harbor International Airport officials at a recent meeting that it's up to the federal government. A Phoenix Councilman and U.S. Representative are backing a Congressional bill that would require a noise study of the affected area.

The article continues, noting that usually the 10,500 foot altitude is high enough to avoid disturbing residents, but for residents in the high-altitude Apache Junction, planes are only 8,741 feet from the tops of homes. The old flight path was obtained by the airport from the former Williams Air Force Base, and the airport has been using the east-bound route to increase air traffic from the airport and reduce delays; the route could be used for up to 80 departures each day. The airport -- which is the fifth largest in the country -- already undertakes 1,800 operations each day.

The article concludes with a comment from a resident, who was clearly concerned about his community and the Tonto National Forest that is also impacted by the flight path. "All we want is our life, our mountains and our wilderness," he said, "let's work this out."

NPC Noise News
NPC Home

Construction at Springdale, Arkansas' Public Library Done at Night So Patrons Aren't Disrupted; Neighbors Aren't So Lucky

PUBLICATION: The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
DATE: June 26, 1999
SECTION: Nwanews; Pg. B1
BYLINE: Pamela Hill, and Michael Rowett
DATELINE: Springdale, Arkansas

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that when the decision was made to conduct particularly noisy construction at Springdale, Arkansas' public library during the night, the idea was to avoid disruption of library patrons. Several neighbors have called the police, however, saying that the noise did disrupt them. While the Engineering Department approved the several days of work, residents say that they weren't notified. "It would have been nice if someone had called us and told us they were going to be working at night and that it would only be temporary" one resident said. The $4-million library expansion will add 24,500 square feet to the building that currently has 18,500; ground was broken in 1998, and completion is scheduled by February 2000 but may come as early as Christmas.

NPC Noise News
NPC Home

Residents of Belfast, Maine Complain About Noise from Idling Refrigerator Trucks; Official Noise Measurements Indicate Compliance with Noise Ordinance

PUBLICATION: Bangor Daily News
DATE: June 26, 1999
BYLINE: Walter Griffin
DATELINE: Belfast, Maine

The Bangor Daily News reports that Penobscot Frozen Foods has been the target of recent noise complaints in Belfast, Maine. Code enforcement officers recently tested the company's property line for noise levels, and found at most 65 decibel readings, well under the permitted 75 decibels. Fifteen years ago, when a chicken-processing plant with considerably more offensive odors left the plant, the neighborhood was made up of working class folk who complained less about noise; now, the neighborhood consists of more wealthy homeowners who have registered increasing numbers of complaints.

NPC Noise News
NPC Home

Dane County International Airport Near Madison Wisconsin Is Receiving Fewer Noise Complaints Since a New Runway Opened

PUBLICATION: Capital Times
DATE: June 26, 1999
SECTION: Local/State, Pg. 2A
BYLINE: by Luke Timmerman
DATELINE: Madison, Wisconsin

The Capital Times reports that noise complaints received at the Dane County Regional Airport near Madison, Wisconsin are down after a new 7,200 foot runway opened last year. The newer runway is angled towards the northeast, away from dense residential areas, and will eventually be used in one third of the airport's operations. Plans to repave the 9,000 foot main runway may divert so much traffic to the newer runway so much that noise complaints will again rise. Newer, quieter planes are also helping to quiet noise from the airport.

NPC Noise News
NPC Home

Police in Denver Colorado Admit July Firecracker Complaints Aren't Top Priority

PUBLICATION: The Denver Post
DATE: June 26, 1999
SECTION: Denver & The West; Pg. B-01
BYLINE: by Cindy Brovsky
DATELINE: Denver, Colorado

The Denver Post reports that while illegal firecrackers are the cause of many complaints around the Fourth of July, Denver police are unable to respond effectively to most. "It's frustrating to hear the noise because residents, myself included, want to get a good night's sleep," said Aurora police spokesman Bob Stef. "But we have to prioritize calls and can't respond if more serious calls keep the officers busy." It's difficult to catch violators anyway; most times residents don't know who did it, and if they do they may be hesitant to sign a complaint that could identify them to the violator.

The article continues, saying that in some county areas it may be legal to sell and light firecrackers, making it fairly easy for those who wish to find them. In the first two weeks of July, police often receive ten firecracker complaints for every other type of call received. If a firecracker complaint involves property damage or a safety issue, officers prioritize it.

NPC Noise News
NPC Home

Hospital Curtains Developed at Georgia Institute of Technology that Can Reduce Noise By Up to 12 Decibels

PUBLICATION: The Vancouver Sun
DATE: June 26, 1999
SECTION: News; A19
DATELINE: Washington, D.C.

The Vancouver Sun reports that researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology announced that they have developed hospital curtains which can reduce noise by seven to twelve decibels by placing fabric around sheets of noise-blocking material.

NPC Noise News
NPC Home

Neighbors of Bath, Maine's Iron Works Protest Shipyard's Permit Request that Would Allow Nighttime Work

PUBLICATION: The Associated Press State & Local Wire
DATE: June 25, 1999
SECTION: State And Regional
DATELINE: Bath, Maine

The Associated Press State & Local Wire reports that neighbors, who have already dealt with noise from unapproved nighttime construction at Bath, Maine's Iron Works Shipyard, are set against the shipyard's request for a state permit that would make the work legal. Residents say that the noise is keeping them awake, and that the shipyard has not been forthcoming with information about the construction project as they had promised. At least one resident's yard is being used to monitor noise from the construction, and that same resident has circulated a petition to nearly 70 people who oppose a nighttime construction permit.

The article goes on to quote officials at the shipyard who claim that noise is coming from boats and bridge construction projects in the area as well. According to the city, work on the bridge does not happen at night, though it may begin as early as 4 AM. Shipyard officials have set up a meeting with residents to show what the shipyard is doing to abate noise, and to update them on the construction project.

The article concludes, saying that the Department of Environmental Protection said in a letter to the shipyard that its $220 million expansion project permit made no mention of nighttime work, and that such work has violated its permit. A change in the permit would require data on noise and light levels in nearby neighborhoods, as well as strong justification for the need to work at night.

NPC Noise News
NPC Home

Housing Developer in Birmingham, England Reconsiders Plans After Noise and Pollution Impacts Judged to Be Too High

PUBLICATION: Birmingham Post
DATE: June 25, 1999
DATELINE: Birmingham, England

The Birmingham Post reports that a Birmingham, England housing developer, who had planned to build ten homes on a village green there for 450,000 pounds, has noted that increased noise from the development would be unfair to current residents. While noisy roads around the area throw the results into question, the development will be reconsidered. The developer said "We are still committed towards the scheme and will work to ensure the best possible layout is achieved for this much-needed project."

NPC Noise News
NPC Home

Fewer Calls to Noise Hotline for Chicago O'Hare Airport May Not Mean Less Noise

PUBLICATION: Chicago Sun-Times
DATE: June 25, 1999
SECTION: Nws; Pg. 8
BYLINE: by Robert C. Herguth
DATELINE: Chicago, Illinois

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that calls to Chicago O'Hare Airport's noise complaint hotline are down for the first quarter of the year from 8,200 calls from 3,751 people to 5,044 calls from 1901 people. Chicago aviation spokesman claims that individual 'noise events' as measured by noise monitors are down, but many say that the drop in complaints is just due to resident frustration with the perceived futility of their calls to the 2.5-year-old hotline. Park Ridge Mayor Ron Wietecha says "Most people are frustrated. And the noise hasn't gotten better for us." Most callers complain of low-flying planes, followed by those who complain of the number of planes.

NPC Noise News
NPC Home

Residents in Lyons Park, Oklahoma Living Next to Interstate 44 Schedule Session to Tell Politicians They Need a Noise Wall

PUBLICATION: The Daily Oklahoman
DATE: June 25, 1999
SECTION: Community Iii; Pg. 1
BYLINE: Ellie Sutter
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Nadine Leflett, vice president of the Lyons Park Neighborhood Association

The Daily Oklahoman reports that residents of Lyons Park, Oklahoma, who live next to Interstate 44 are tired of waiting for a noise wall. Since the Interstate was built they have wanted a noise wall, and a 'gripe session' has been scheduled for discussion with politicians including officials from the state Department of Transportation and a local U.S. Representative. The Transportation Department says the project is still being considered, and is currently gathering noise data and estimating costs for the wall.

The article continues, saying that transportation officials acknowledged that "residents have a unique situation as they are at grade level with probably the busiest highway in the state." Construction on another major highway has shunted much traffic to I-44, making the noise even worse. Communities in similar areas along the Interstate have noise walls, and Lyons Park simply wants fair treatment.

NPC Noise News
NPC Home

U.S. Navy's Fledgling Sonar Submarine System Shown to Harm Marine Life

PUBLICATION: Earth Island Journal
DATE: June 22, 1999
SECTION: No. 2, Vol. 41; Pg. 18; Issn: 1041-0406
BYLINE: Nathan Labudde
DATELINE: Washington, D.C.

The Earth Island Journal reports the U.S. Navy's latest sonar submarine detection system could severly damage whales' and dolphins' acoustic-based ability to find food and defend themselves.

According to the Journal, the U.S. Navy fears its tactical formations of battleships and other large, relatively slow vessels are at risk for attack by a new style of small and difficult-to-detect submarines, despite the end of the Navy's Cold War dances with Russian submarines. Existing passive detection technology is thought to be insufficient.

The article describe the Navy's latest idea, the Surveillance Towed Array Sonar System, Low Frequency Active (LFA), which emits low-frequency (100-1000Hz) high-decibel noise and interprets the echoes. The level of the LFA sonar, 235dB to 280dB, could well prove lethal to any living thing -- from fish to humans -- in the target area. The noise-induced pain threshold for whales is thought to be 170 db at a half a mile; whale have indicated aversion to man-made sounds starting at 120dB.

The article notes marine mammals have always relied heavily on underwater acoustics and that any disruption to their acoustic ability is dangerous.

According to the Journal, the Navy tested LFA from 1980-95for some 7,500 hours without regard for the United States' environmental laws. Pressure from environmental groups eventually forced the Navy to perform a field study in 1997-98 to comply with the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act. The study examined behavioral changes in whales from a simulated LFA sound source for an environmental impact assessment (EIA). The Navy then authorized four LFA ships (one is already under construction) and actual LFA deployment.

The article states two Navy-hired civilian whale acoustics experts, Dr. Christopher Clarke of Cornell University [no relation -- ed.] and Dr. Peter Tyack of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute oversaw the tests and results.

The Journal reports the first test phase studied blue and fin whales. For eight weeks, the Cory Chouest used a tower of underwater LFA "speakers" to transmit 140dB omni-directional sound pulses every eight seconds for ten minutes at a time, while aerial and shipboard spotters observed whale behavior over a 119-square-mile area. Observers were not told when the LFA source was transmitting.

The Journal notes several concerns with the test: the sample group was extremely small due to seasonal migration, tests were hampered by inclement weather, and some days were simply not tested. During the testing period, a pod of forty fin whales was seen "racing across the surface of the water," an event veteran whale researchers had never witnessed prior to the test. Vocalizations were substantially decreased during sound broadcast, by 50 percent for blue whales and 33 percent for fin whales.

The article says phase two studied the effects of LFA sonar on California gray whales migrating to their birthing and wintering lagoons in Baja California. When the sound source on, whales within six-tenths of a mile of the 185dB sound source moved as much as a mile laterally to avoid it. The test did not attempt to determine how a routine LFA disturbance would affect the gray whales' annual 5,000-mile migration, one of the longest of any animal on Earth.

The article states the final test was conducted on humpback whales in the Hawai'ian waters north of Kona. Four-fifths of singing humpback whales became silent when exposed to the sound. Many whales fled the test area during the experiment; one whale-watcher had to suspend observation for lack of humpbacks. Members of the Hawai'i Ocean Mammal Institute alsofound abandoned cetacean calves during the month of testing: a humpback whale calf, a three-week-old dolphin, and a melon-head whale calf. "We have never observed or heard of anyone observing an abandoned calf in our nine years of research off the Hawai'ian Islands," says OMI's Marsha Green. "That these abandoned calves appeared only in the test area and nowhere else suggests ... further investigation. The sonar tests may cause disorientation so the mother and calf become separated and then cannot find each other."

The Journal notes that during this phase, a diver off Kona -- unaware of the test -- became disoriented and nauseated upon exposure to a 120dB source. A physician diagnosed the diver with symptoms comparable to acute trauma; other divers have been hospitalized for seizures and long-term health problems after encountering an LFA sonar.

The article states the details of the LFA studies will be releasedwith an Environmental Impact Assessment this year. Problems with the tests remain, however; the Navy's equipment has not been declassified, preventing civilian scientists and public entities from studying it. In addition, short-term observations of whale behavior have been insufficient in other cases. Humpback whales exposed to high dB explosions and drilling off Newfoundland in 1993 revealed only small changes in residency, movements and behavior. Three days later, when two of those whales died after getting caught in fishing nets, subsequent examinations showed severe auditory damage had occured.

The article notes the LFA field studies were conducted using omni-directional sound pulses at roughly 150dB. The actual LFA sonar would use a focused sound between 240dB and 270dB. Focusing the sound will increase the beams' efficiency, allowing them to travel up to 100 miles. Since 240dB is approximately 100,000 times louder than the tests' 150dB levels, the EIA does not adequately predict the LFA's impact.

The article says some critics note the Navy is one of the few remaining large funders of marine research; they worry researchers under contract to the Navy will simply tell it what it wants to hear; that "the loudest noises ever generated by man will not adversely affect whales and dolphins." The Navy currently has no plans to halt deployment of LFA.

The article suggests readers contact the Navy to protest use of the LFA. LFA sonar may prove widely destructive to the world's marine ecosystems. The Journal feels that given the inadequate nature of the field studies conducted for its EIA and the possible level of danger to the world's ecosystems, the Navy should not be allowed to carry out LFA deployment. Letters of protest can be sent to The Honorable John H. Dalton; Secretary of the Navy; US Dept. of the Navy; The Pentagon Room 4E-686; Washington, DC 20350.

NPC Noise News
NPC Home

Previous week: June 13, 1999
Next week: June 27, 1999



Aircraft Noise
Amplified Noise
Effects on Wildlife/Animals
Construction Noise
Firing Ranges
Health Effects
Home Equipment and Appliances
International News
Environmental Justice
Land Use and Noise
Civil Liberty Issues
Miscellaneous Noise Stories
Noise Ordinances
Noise Organizations Mentioned
Outdoor Events
Noise in Our National Parks/Natural Areas
Residential and Community Noise
Snowmobile and ATV Noise
Research and Studies
Technological Solutions to Noise
Transportation Related Noise
Violence and Noise
Watercraft Noise
Workplace Noise

Chronological Index
Geographical Index

NPC Menu Bar NPC Home Page Ask NPC Support NPC Search the NPC Home Page NPC QuietNet NPC Resources NPC Hearing Loss and Occupational Noise Library NPC Noise News NPC Law Library NPC Library