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Live on tape: the dangerous noise emitted by natural gas compressor stations in neighborhoods

Amy Mall

Posted February 22, 2010 in Health and the Environment

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As I mentioned in a previous post, it's the season for film awards, so I am posting my nominees for some of the most compelling oil and gas pollution videos. Words cannot do justice to the environmental harm that is evident in these images.

Today’s category: noise from natural gas compressor stations. According to the World Health Organization, noise can cause permanent medical conditions, such as hypertension and heart disease, hearing impairment, communication problems, sleep disturbance, cognitive effects such as memory problems, reduced performance, behavioral symptoms, and more. Low-frequency noise (LFN), also created by compressor stations, can also cause Vibroacoustic disease, leading to cardiovascular symptoms and decreased cognitive skills.

In other words, it is not just a nuisance. It is serious.

These issues are so important that there is actually a scientific Journal of Low Frequency Noise, Vibration and Active Control, and a Journal of Sound and Vibration.

These are not groundless worries. Individuals report health symptoms they have linked to natural gas compressor station noise, including ruptured ear drums.

Natural gas compressor stations are located all over the country, even where there are no wells, because they help move natural gas along the pipeline. They often run 24/7. Each state or locality has its own regulations. Some are not strong enough to protect their citizens.

With that, roll tape. You'll see how horrible this would be if it were in your own backyard. This video is thanks to Erin in Port Washington, Ohio, whose home is bordered by two compressor stations. As you can see, children live here.

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Sharon WilsonFeb 22 2010 04:20 PM

They have such a lovely place and lovely children. This is so wrong it's hard to find the words. !

Emily CousinsFeb 23 2010 05:00 PM

Now imagine if one of these was right behind your church or temple. How prayful could you be?

I live on the Navajo Nation and have traveled to one of the tribe's six sacred mountains with a medicine man only to hear a compressor station roaring throughout the man's prayers. So much for quiet contemplation.

John LiffeeFeb 23 2010 05:13 PM

Horrifying. What a graphic example of heedless corporate behavior. And you just know it would take years and huge amounts of cash to — just maybe — enlist the law in forcing the company to make a change. Poor family is just completely screwed.

Amy MallFeb 23 2010 06:30 PM

Thanks for the comments. A quick web search illustrates that there are readily available approaches to mitigate harmful noise from natural gas compressor stations. Here is just one example:

If mitigation is not required by the authorities, and it is not being adopted voluntarily, then regulations need to be updated to reflect our current knowledge about the harm of noise and the technologies available to protect human health.

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