See http://www.fairmountgeddes.net/quiet for an informational website about industrial noise in Fairmount, Geddes and Syracuse.
Update, April 29: As reported in the Post-Standard, Suez has taken steps and it appears the noise problem is resolved. I hadn’t heard it for the last several days and assumed that they had shut something down to look into it, but it turns out they ordered a replacement motor for a fan that wasn’t turning at the right speed, so that was the fix. I guess my original theory was sort of on the right track… there was something wrong at the plant which was “out of phase” and producing the oscillation which could not be heard at ground zero.
Suez should be commended for its quick resolution to the problem. Thanks to everyone in the neighborhood who spoke up! Industrial noise pollution is not our destiny…
Thanks to the legwork of some of the commenters below, the local media got on “The Noise” story somewhat today. Here’s a WSTM story about the status of the investigation into the Suez co-gen plant and its noise problems which have affected so many people in the Fairmount-Geddes-Tipperary Hill area (and beyond). The WSTM story has a link to a letter sent by Suez to the mayor of Solvay where they admit their equipment is causing a problem and say they will start a fuller investigation next week, naming May as a possible completion date.
I had been scheduled to do an interview with WSYR-TV about the noise on Monday, but the story was cancelled; but that’s OK because at this point the message to Suez would be that they needed to be more proactive about getting information out to the greater community. Part of the problem in communication is that this isn’t just a Village of Solvay issue but is in fact extending across parts of the towns of Camillus, Geddes, Onondaga and the city of Syracuse, and those folks don’t have a single mayor who can tell them about what’s going on. However, even this bit of media coverage should prove helpful and at least we’ve now got an answer on paper from the company.
One hopes this will get fixed before May. For now, though, “the beat goes on…”
(Original post is below the flip.)
Original post: Apropos of nothing: I see that discussion has started up again in Syracuse.com’s Neighbors West forum about “The Noise.” Since at least late December, Fairmount has been intermittently afflicted by a strange, deep, regular oscillating hum in the air (whoooom… whoooom… whoooom) that sounds to be coming from the general direction of Solvay. Sometimes it disappears for days, and then it comes back and hums day and night, sometimes loud enough to disrupt some people’s sleep. Solvay Paperboard has been accused, but they’ve denied having anything to do with it.
I have a theory that this is some piece of factory machinery that started malfunctioning somewhere and is producing sound waves that are getting magnified by interference, and maybe you don’t hear it until you’re miles away. (Or something. I’ve done my best to forget my high school physics.) Anyhow, there’s now two classes of people in the vicinity — people who are driven crazy by The Noise, and people who aren’t (or don’t even notice it).
Updated: The above was written some weeks ago; it’s since been determined that the culprit is the co-gen plant in Solvay (not Solvay Paperboard). They claim nothing has changed with their equipment, but the fact remains that lots of people suddenly started noticing this noise in recent months. Something has obviously changed, whether at the plant itself or in the local environment (perhaps something that blocked the long-distance transmission of the sound has been removed?)
A resident of the Fairmount (Sherwood Knolls) area has recorded the sound from her home. Here is a WAV file excerpt of her recording. (Her full recording is here.) There is some ambient background noise in this recording, but you can clearly hear the oscillations that have been driving folks crazy, especially at 10 seconds in when you can hear it quite loudly. It’s only heard briefly at full level in the recording, but that is an approximation of what the noise sounds like continually (not just for a few seconds) at its worst — usually late at night. Below is a wave analysis of the recording.
As you can see, this sound is not just “part of the normal background noise.” And it’s been bothering residents all over the west side, from Tipperary Hill to Howlett Hill, for months.