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

s due to hearing loss compensation," says James Meredith, who manages safety and occupational health, security safety and law enforcement at the Bureau of Reclamation. "That amounts to $1.5 to 2 million dollars per year Dollar-wise, it's the largest single component of claims that we have."

The intense roar of the water threatens the hearing of approximately 5,300 of the organization's workers across the country, despite attempts to provide employees with personal hearing protection.

"Down near the lower elevations of the power plant, where the water is coming down through the pen stocks and coming down over the turbines, noise can range as much as 115-120 decibels, which is quite loud," Meredith says. "And [for] every five decibels, that increases by seven or eight factors of loudness."

That's louder than the sound output at an average rock concert or music venue, which is estimated to range between 110-115 decibels by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Six sites, of varying sizes, will undergo an initial round of noise surveys this spring, with additional surveys slated later this year for plants operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"In essence, we're being asked to help look into the issue of noise control to reduce noise exposures," says ONR's Yankaskas. "This is an opportunity to transition the approaches we've been developing for Sailors and Marines ONR to other federal agencies."

The Corps' infrastructure includes power-generating units and plants that provide 25 percent of the nation's hydropower capacitybut its reach expands to a host of other facility types, says Andrea Pouliot, industrial hygiene program manager.

Some 25,000 miles of commercially navigable channels, 225 lock chambers and 2,500 recreational areas fall under the Corps' charge. At one facility, the John Day Lock and Dam along the Columbia River, the Corps estimates more than 2.5 million gallons of water
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Contact: Peter Vietti
onrcsc@onr.navy.mil
703-696-5301
Office of Naval Research
Source:Eurekalert

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