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Peekskill Residents to Wheelabrator:"Stop the Noise"

A group of residents are complaining about the noise made from the steam being released by the Wheelabrator plant in Peekskill.

If it's any consolation, that annoying noise coming from the Wheelabrator plant in Peekskill should stop in about three more weeks.

Wheelabrator, which converts solid and fuel wastes into clean energy using steam, is doing maintenance work on its three generators this month. In order to complete the work, the plant is working on one generator at a time. Because the plant isn't working at full capacity, the excess steam that's built up has to be released into the air.

Unfortunately, residents have noticed the noise and have brought their concerns to the Common Council. A group of residents, represented by the Westside Neighborhood Association, have sent a number of emails to city officials detailing their frustrations with the steady drone.

Brett Baker, the plant's operations manager, said this process goes on every seven years. The steam release stopped momentarily on Saturday to coincide with maintenance work being done by Consolidated Edison and additional repairs that needed to be made to one of the plant's generators.

But the steam release is scheduled to resume Wednesday and continue through March 3, Baker said.

"On a night like [Monday night], when there's a heavy fog, you hardly notice it," Baker said of the noise. "But when the sky is clear, you'll notice it a lot more."

Baker also said the wind plays a factor in how much residents are forced to hear.

Tina Bongar, a city resident, said the noise seemed to be more intense this time around. 

"It's never been this bad and it's never happened during the hours that it's happening now," Bongar said. "The seniors down at Riverbend, who are part of the Westside group, aren't able to sleep."

Bongar wondered if there was some sort of fine or action that can be used to make the plant reduce the level of noise to a more comfortable level.

During Monday's Common Council workshop, city Engineer Brent W. VanZandt spoke about the plant's steam release process. VanZandt said the plant has been burning less trash in recent years due to the economy.

VanZandt also said that the plant registered little to no decibel readings last week on Feb. 5-6, when the noise was being monitored. Alot of that had to do with the direction of the wind during that period.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is also responsible for visiting the site every two weeks to check for any environmental impacts, VanZandt said. Baker told VanZandt that the plant hasn't had any incidents reported by the DEC in five years.

VanZandt said the plant initially slowed down its plant burning operation to the minimum, which is about 125,000 pounds of garbage an hour, to reduce the sound. The maximum amount of garbage the plant can burn per hour is about 180,000 pounds, VanZandt said.

The plant has since gradually ramped up its operations, but the noise hasn't been as noticeable.

"They have worked with us,"  VanZandt said.  

The Entertainer February 12, 2013 at 11:57 AM
Tell Wheelabrator to hire LOCAL people, Anyone notice all of the Georgia, Rhode Island, Virginia plates all over town? Shame on Westchester County officials! That's your tax dollars paying wages to out of state workers who will take all of that income right back to their lower states when there are many westchester residents without a job. Shame on Wheelabrator and Mr. Astorino Too!
Not as clever as I think February 12, 2013 at 12:47 PM
The noise is unbearable annoying and incessent It's not just now..during the summer late at night the air would be rent with the blasts that seem to go onand on.. I live in Buchanan,on a hill overlooking the Welsher Ave shopping center by the Blue Mountain Reservation It seems to be in direct sonic line with the plant I had asked where the noise was coming from , thinking it was Indian Point- So now we know the source. What can be done about it? Let Cortlandt Manor get on the bandwagon Noise pollution crosses political boundaries
Louise Mueller February 12, 2013 at 12:48 PM
"On a night like [Monday night], when there's a heavy fog, you hardly notice it," Baker said of the noise. "But when the sky is clear, you'll notice it a lot more." Guess we better hope for fog every night & the winds to blow in another direction so that we don't have to hear that loud obnoxious noise. Wonder how the folks that will be staying at the new hotel will feel when they hear this noise (that supposedly only happens every 7 yrs) will feel when they are woken out of their sleep. Driving past the plant the noise is twice as loud.
john Wilson February 12, 2013 at 01:17 PM
You bought the place down there knowing that the power plant and wheeabrator were there, also trains did you expect all the noise to stop because you moved there. Get a life it is a challenge that has to be overcome. Move if you don't like the noise.
Kirsten Berger February 12, 2013 at 01:47 PM
I find the noise unbearable. I work from home and it is an incessant roar that has provided an annoying background noise 24/7. It definitely seems to get even louder at night. I live a block up the hill past the high school, so it's not like I'm right near it. Last week, I was taking a walk in the woods in Depew Park for much needed peace and quiet and the only place where I had it was behind a big rock face. Once I was away from that, the sound from Wheelabrator was like that of the sound of the Concord taking off. When I had called Wheelabrator inquiring about the sound, I was told they were using silencing devices, but it just isn't enough. THe last few days were bliss, I thought the snow was muffling the sound but now I've learned it's because it's been shut off until tomorrow.
Tucker J February 12, 2013 at 01:51 PM
You do not live in Buchanan. Obviusly you don't own a home or else you would know what town/village you pay taxes to, so I defer to Mr. Wilson, it was there when you moved in, there is a reason your rent is cheaper, deal with it.
Collegenurse February 12, 2013 at 02:25 PM
I called the police when it first started and they e-mailed me an article that was published (not sure where) regarding the noise. The article was very bland and not very informative. I googled the company and e-mailed them asking that they please at the very least release the steam during the daylight hours. I also have been unable to sleep and am not looking forward to tomorrow when it restarts it sounds like a jet airplane is flying over my house. I must admit that a representative did reach out to me and was very cordial and explained what was going on and even offer me a tour of the facility (nice but not interested)! I really don't think there is anything we can do to stop the process...but asking for it to be done during working hours I believe is a good solution....albeit not a solution they are willing or able to do :(
Jan W Nunley February 12, 2013 at 02:35 PM
It's not fun, and it freaks out my dogs, but I feel better knowing that there will be an end to it someday instead of worrying that it's "the new normal." Next time, Wheelabrator, how about a press release BEFORE you start?
Danny C February 12, 2013 at 04:23 PM
My office is across the street, yes the noise is annoying, but not unbearable. They are doing good things at the Wheelabrator plant, not to mention they are big supporters of their community. The fact that people are complaining about noise & want to fine them is silly. People need to focus their energy into something positive. If this is the cost we pay for enviromentally friendly energy, then we should suck it up. (Every 7 years we put up with 3 weeks of annoying noise) I support Wheelabrator 100%. I have neighbors with annoying dogs, but I don't call the cops on them, i turn my tv up, or i drown out the noise other ways. The world is full of noises & we all have to deal with them. I personaly took a tour of the plant a few months ago, I tell you it is impressive & if people understood their mission, the area they support, & how imperitive plants like this are, people would likely have a different view point. A press release before they start is a good idea, ideas/sugestions like that are helpful. Mostly all the employees at this plant are from our local community. The reason you see out of state license plates at the site is because they have 25 plants/sites all over the country, so naturally employees in high profile positions would travel site to site. Also inspections of the plants are done regularly, Likely by out of state government officials. (I learned this at the tour of their facility - if that opportunity comes up, i suggest attending)
dleighg February 12, 2013 at 04:57 PM
Interesting little video about the plant from NOVA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGIPZ67WZZA
Collegenurse February 12, 2013 at 05:45 PM
Thanks dleighg that was an interesting video...maybe I will take up the offer of a tour of the facility...I still think letting the steam out during the day would have been nicer. and danny c barking dogs need to be brought in the house maybe they are hungry or cold...
john February 12, 2013 at 07:08 PM
You want annoying noise? The Rap "music" that blares out of 1/2 the cars in Peekskill. I will take the sound of a little steam any day.
The Entertainer February 12, 2013 at 08:31 PM
Danny C, These people Hardly look like high profile employees.........
Beach Girl February 12, 2013 at 08:31 PM
I live in 2 blocks of The plant , YOu barely hear anything !!!! Come on people . if you dont like a lil noise ,,,,,, move the hell way upstate .
joshua tanner February 12, 2013 at 08:45 PM
I never noticed the plant noise until last summer when the noise became 24/7 for days on end. This winter it seems even louder. That could be because I have the AC off and notice the plant more. Whatever the cause this is the first time I started actively asking people what the heck was going on down there that they were making so much noise 24/7. It sounds like a jet engine stuck on. Anyone who says the plant isn't nosier must have a reason to be defensive about the plant because it obviously more noticeable. The people on Peekskill picture group on Facebook (2500 people) also started posting about the noise last week.
Danny C February 13, 2013 at 02:18 AM
Lol @ the entertainer. Also, i will be sure to tell my neighbor to feed his dog or tell him he is cold in the dead of summer (collegenurse). I love the patch! People are too funny.
George in NY February 13, 2013 at 12:28 PM
Thank you for providing that NOVA link, very informative. A bonus my favorite Tech writer Pogue as well :)
MH February 13, 2013 at 02:36 PM
You don't live in Buchanan if you live on the hill overlooking the shopping center. That is Peekskill you idiot. If they are doing maintenance on the plant then let them finish and get it over with and stop bloody complaining about every little thing!!!!
Not as clever as I think February 13, 2013 at 02:37 PM
Interesting that personal attacks are common here in the patch comments instead of discussion of the issues brought up. Why is that ? I think that behavior is reprehensible, and the attack comments are inappropriate. I like the idea of steam release during working hours instead of night.
Shaun McGuire February 13, 2013 at 09:41 PM
I live less than a mile from there. Never noticed it.
Teleman February 13, 2013 at 11:24 PM
I bet many of the numbnuts complaining about the noise are anti-nuclear- I don't hear any noise coming from Indian Point. You want your "green" energy?, theres always a trade off, noise, inefficiency etc- much complaining about the nuke plant, but what kind of emissions are coming from burning god knows what in that "garbage"
shakemdown February 14, 2013 at 05:45 AM
these are the same people who went to city hall to try to have the train stop blowing it's horn, now i ask ?, did that train not arrive or passed the station blowing it's horn when you viewed the complex or did you just think that because you were moving in things were going to change, THIS IS A CITY NOT SOME SLEEPY TOWN .IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE NOISE FIND YOURSELF SOMEWHERE ELSE TO LIVE. OR LIKE THEY SAY IN THE MILITARY " DEAL WITH IT".
Jim Pappas February 20, 2013 at 05:29 PM
We are about a mile away and it has sounded like a jet engine constantly running on the corner through the night or at least till I was able to fall asleep at 2 am. Next door neighbor can't sleep and hears it through her ear plugs that she has been using. It has also been coing on regularly for years; but at least we know what it is now. No decibel readings???? He's full of.......
Resident March 03, 2013 at 11:51 PM
I also live nearby, and while I understand the need for the maintenance and I'm aware of the good things Wheelibrator does, I have to admit, it's finally driving me crazy. I wonder if the crime rate went up in Peekskill the last few weeks? I didn't hear it at all the first week, just a little the second week, but this week I'm climbing the walls. They say they do it every seven years, but I've never heard it before and I've lived here 25 years. I hope they are on schedule to be finished tomorrow!!

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