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Mayor Rapp: Vienna noise may have more than one source

VIENNA — The mayor of Vienna said the source of the noise that has been bothering residents in Vienna may be coming from more than one source.

Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp said he recently attended a meeting with Washington County Commissioners, management officials with the Eramet plant in Washington County and others to discuss a noise that has been coming from Washington County and into Vienna.

Rapp said he has gotten complaints from people around the city about the sound he described as a low humming to a screeching sound. He has been regularly hearing the noises at his home as well.

Many people believe the sound is coming from around the Eramet plant in Washington County.

”Eramet is very concerned about the noise,” Rapp said. ”They have hired an acoustical firm from Dayton, Ohio, to come in.”

The firm will be working to determine the source of the sound, the levels it is going out at and other factors.

”We are waiting on the results,” Rapp said. He did not know when that work would be completed.

The mayor said their discussions have pointed to the possibility of multiple sources for the noise.

The machinery Eramet uses runs at a constant speed, creating the “humming” sound that has been reported. However, that does not account for reports of other sounds that Rapp describes as sounding like an “angry shop vac.”

”It has been all over the board,” he said. ”It is not a constant sound. It goes up and down.”

Rapp said another business in Ohio has a blower positioned between two buildings that points directly to 55th Street in Vienna across the Ohio River. He said the sound from that could be applified and may be causing some of the concerns.

In a post made on Jan. 4 to Eramet Marietta’s Facebook page, company officials said continuous sound samples were collected in and around the plant Dec. 3-5 “at different representative strategic locations.”

”The sound print from the furnace two scrubber fans was identified at all sampling points as it generates a unique hum tone, its perception however is different at each location,” the post said. ”The 2 fans with direct drive motors are operating at a constant motor speed 24/7 so the sound source is unchanged over a 24-hour period.

”The sound transmission is structure born (vibration, flanking noise) but its path is also air borne. Thus the sound perception will differ depending on topography and meteorological conditions that change from day to day and throughout a 24-hour period. In that respect the fact that we are in winter makes it that natural noise abatement from vegetation is almost non-existent at the moment.”

The acoustical specialists have been working with analyzing the data and a plan is being worked up to reduce the noise.

The company said it remains committed to improving the situation as fast as possible.

”Unfortunately, sound is a complex topic to deal with,” the post said. ”Eramet Marietta Inc. employees would like to thank the local communities for their patience. Your understanding as we continue our investigation is appreciated.”

Washington County Commissioner Ron Feathers said he attended the meeting with company officials and local community leaders. He said the company is looking at a way to deal with the noise from the scrubber fan.

”Because this is private industry there is no county laws or zoning in place to deal with this,” he said, adding the company was keeping them apprised of efforts to deal with it.

”They are working through a solution,” Feathers said. ”What that looks like, I don’t know.

”They are being good partners and good neighbors. They are going to come up with something to remedy this.”

The Wood County Commission has also received complaints recently and approved to have a letter sent to the Washington County Commission asking for an update on the situation. Wood County also does not have sound ordinances.

Rapp said Eramet has been very attentive about addressing the concerns of the surrounding community.

”We have been very pleased with their response,” Rapp said. ”They are working on it and willing to make the situation better.”

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