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Noise expert hired to evaluate Allegheny River dredging

News // October 16, 2007

Concerns from residents in Allegheny Township, Westmoreland County, have prompted the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to hire an expert to evaluate noise levels stemming from dredging activities on the Allegheny River.

Hanson Aggregates PMA is conducting the dredging where noise from banging dredge equipment, the dumping of sand and gravel onto barges, and background noise from equipment engines is disturbing the nearby River Forest residential community.

The department is currently in the process of securing a contract with a noise expert to independently evaluate these concerns.

The independent evaluation is set to begin in early November, and will determine whether the noise levels violate municipal ordinances, or constitute a public nuisance that would require enforcement action.

"We are not certain that the measures Hanson has taken to date will reduce the noise sufficiently," said DEP Southwest Regional Director Ken Bowman. "If the company is not able to reduce the noise to an acceptable level as determined by the study, we will initiate an enforcement action."

In September, the department held a meeting with local residents, Hanson Aggregates and local public officials to determine what efforts the company could make to alleviate the noise.

To date, Hanson has placed a new muffler on the dredge to reduce noise, and will replace another muffler on its tender boat. Hanson has also changed the clamshell bucket used to draw up the dredged material from the river to a quieter model, and has advised the dredge crew on the need to minimize the noise.

The department asked Hanson to consider any and all methods of reducing the noise, including moving operations to another permitted area, outside the residential zone.

In addition, the department asked Hanson to place a sound curtain on the barge to alleviate echoing across the river, and limit its operation to daylight hours to reduce the residents' stress and evening disturbance.

"In spite of our efforts to work with Hanson Aggregates to address local concerns, residents still report undue noise from the dredging operation," Bowman said.

DEP has asked for a list of additional actions the company is prepared to implement to further reduce the noise.


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