Squawk over refinery noise continues

2011-10-14T17:00:00Z Squawk over refinery noise continuesBy Bowdeya Tweh bowdeya.tweh@nwi.com, (219) 933-3316 nwitimes.com

WHITING | Residents made a lot of noise for BP officials Friday to remind them about the Whiting Refinery's problems creating sound pollution in neighborhoods.

Residents including Stephanie Madison of Whiting were among the 30 people filling seats at BP's Citizens Advisory Committee meeting at the Whiting Public Library. Madison said the sound problems started in November as an audible hum that can be heard in homes but doesn't stop. The sound impact has served as irritation for Madison although the level of noise depends on factors including wind speed and direction.

After dealing with a significant number of complaints, Madison said BP sent an engineer to her home five months ago but the determined she needed new windows and doors to combat the sound.

"We put our house up for sale because of this," said Madison, who has since taken the property off the market. "Our initial thought was that they won't do anything about the noise."

Local BP spokesman Tom Keilman said the company worked with an acoustic expert and found the noise was from gas-fired boilers at the refinery's power plant. He said the company has made adjustments to three of the five boilers and hopes to complete the needed repairs to reduce the noise at the remaining two by early next year.

The problem has been that the refinery needs at least four boilers to operate and can only afford to perform maintenance on one at a time.

"We absolutely need that power plant," Keilman said. "... It's a very complex issue. We have to take them down systematically to install the retrofit."

Noise worries took up a large part of the meeting. But BP officials and other members of the advisory committee heard from various residents who said they had a lack of confidence the energy company was doing all it could to minimize the impacts of the multibillion-dollar refinery modernization project on the community.

BP contractors driving on streets where truck traffic is restricted and refinery flaring activities also served to rankle residents during Friday's meeting.

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