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Stop that 'dam' noise: ONR and nation's engineers tackle noise at hydroelectric plants
Date:3/26/2012

Using research designed to protect warfighters from noise-induced hearing loss in the naval environment, the Office of Naval Research has joined the Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to turn down the volume at the nation's power plants, officials announced March 26.

ONR will lend its extensive expertise in noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) to help identify noise sources and propose engineering controls at dams and hydroelectric plants nationwide as part of the interagency agreement.

"The Navy in general, and ONR in particular, is leading the curve when it comes to understanding the dangers of noise," says Kurt Yankaskas, a program manager in ONR's Warfighter Performance Department. "It's a serious problem not only in the Navy and Marine Corps, but across modern society."

The added project scope results in $14,000 in additional federal funding, bringing the total to $109,000, to evaluate and seek new controls for protecting plant workers from hearing damage sustained on the job.

Noise is a research area ONR knows all too well.

"Within ONR, we're addressing noise-induced hearing loss from all perspectivesengineering, audiology, acquisition programs, medical research and more," Yankaskas says. "The American public is starting to learn how pervasive our noise exposures are."

The Bureau of Reclamation maintains and operates 476 dams and 58 hydroelectric power plants across 17 western states. Collectively, dams like the Grand Coulee in Washington and the Hoover in Colorado produce more than 40 billion kilowatts of energy.

By its estimates, that's enough power to satisfy the needs of 9 million people for one year, offsetting the need for an equivalent 6.8 billion tons of coal or 23.5 million barrels of oil.

It's no wonder the dams have been labeled national strategic assets. But that power comes at a substantial cost.

"Of our worker's comp costs, about 20-25 percent i
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Contact: Peter Vietti
onrcsc@onr.navy.mil
703-696-5301
Office of Naval Research
Source:Eurekalert

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