WUFT News

Biomass Plant Still Fuels Complaints From Residents

By on January 24th, 2014
The noise-absorbing acoustic panels were installed in the stack between Dec. 6 and Dec. 12 at the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center’s biomass plant.

Energy Management Inc.

The noise-absorbing acoustic panels were installed in the stack between Dec. 6 and Dec. 12 at the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center’s biomass plant.

UPDATE: The GREC did reopen on Dec. 13, but Rodgers said it opened with a “cold start,” which can involve temporary loud venting noises. The video Williamson recorded was taken on the same day of the expected sounds.

Some Alachua County residents are still not pleased with Gainesville Renewable Energy Center’s efforts to reduce loud noises billowing from its biomass plant.

The complaints began in August, claiming that loud airplane-like sounds throughout the day and night were causing a disturbance. After many Alachua County and Gainesville city commission meetings, GREC agreed to resolve the issue and install noise-absorbing acoustic panels inside the plant’s stack to subdue the sounds.

Mark Rodgers, the communications director for Energy Management Inc., said the panels were installed on Dec. 6. The plant resumed working on Dec. 13.

GREC said the panels reduced the stack noise by 17 decibels, which is about a 75 percent decrease in the level of noise to the human ear.

However, some Turkey Creek residents said it is still as loud as before.

Peter Perkins lives 1.5 miles away from the plant. He said he thinks the noise travels across the treetops and falls into his community.

Perkins has high-frequency hearing loss from his time in the army, so the low rumbles that he hears one or two times a week from the plant are very loud to him. He said his neighbors hear it too.

“You can hear it inside the house,” Perkins said. “It’s like you live next to the airport.”

Although the sound is not as consistent, when it happens at night, “it will take you out of the bed,” he said.

In October, the City of Gainesville discussed buying the plant for $400 million during a commission meeting, but the vote failed. Perkins believes the city just does not want to get involved with the issue.

“I remain greatly disappointed with the city and the county,” he said. “It’s a total lose-lose situation for us out here.”

Another retired resident, Larry Noegel, said it sounds like someone is power washing his house from the inside. Noegel has lived in Turkey Creek for seven years, but he said he wants to move to get away from the noise.

On top of the noise, Noegel said he is worried about the health effects of the plant’s carbon dioxide emissions. People only hear the rumbles and smell the discharge, which Noegel describes as sour apples.

“We’re within two miles of the plant,” he said. “We’re in a danger zone.”

Resident Greg Williamson recorded the sounds on Dec. 13, the day the plant reopened after the installation of the panels.

The noise ordinance set by the City of Gainesville is 66 decibels during the day and 60 at night.

In January, WUFT News attempted to gather sound recordings in Turkey Creek using the iPhone application Decibel 10th. This was done before 4 p.m., a similar time to Williamson’s recording. The sounds gathered collectively averaged around 45 decibels.

Though the noises are no longer consistent, Noegel is still upset.

“They’re the rudest neighbors I’ve ever had,” he said.

In response to the sounds residents continue to hear, Rodgers said many plants cannot help making noise. He said reverberations from nearby U.S. Route 441 and variable weather conditions can add to the clatter.

“I’m not aware of measures that can completely get rid of noise,” Rodgers said.


This entry was posted in Environment and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Environment

Citrus Greening

Saving Florida Orange Juice: The Search For A Cure For Citrus Greening – The Greening Series, Part 3

Nutrient supplements, root stock additives, genetic modification, heat therapies and a bacterial killer are just a few of the proposed solutions to what has been called the worst disease in history to hit Florida orange groves. Citrus greening, a bacterial [...]


Citrus  Greening

How A Fourth Generation Citrus Farmer Fights To Save His Grove – The Greening Series, Part 2

Steve Futch, UF IFAS Extension agent, and family farmer, Mac Turner, right, tour the new orange tree plantings on Turner’s family farm in Arcadia, Fla. in April 2014. (Heather van Blokland/WUFT) Citrus farmer Mac Turner is fighting to keep his [...]


The Orange Bird is a cartoon character mascot created in 1970 by Disney for the Florida Citrus Commission.   A likeness of the famous icon now hangs in the hallway of Florida Citrus Mutual CEO Mike Sparks.

Why The Orange Is So Important to Florida – The Greening Series, Part 1

In our first of a three-part series on citrus greening, WUFT’s Heather van Blokland takes us through a bit of history on Florida’s connection to the orange


VIDEO: Horse Protection Association Of Florida

Because of flooding on 150 acres of Micanopy land, the Horse Protection Association of Florida is in need of dry land for its rescues. A suitable area was found for 23 of the horses, but HPAF’s Morgan Silver worries about organizing the funds to continue paying rent.


Horse

Small-Scale Horse Operations Guide to Protect Florida Water

The Florida Department of Education released a manual for small-scale horse operation best management practices in order to help preserve the state’s water resources.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments