Power plant noise causes dis­tur­bance for lo­cals

CPV of­fi­cial says steam op­er­a­tion was part of con­struc­tion

Maryland Independent - - News - By MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @SykesIndyNews

Com­pet­i­tive Power Ven- tures’ con­tin­u­ing con­struc­tion on a new nat­u­ral gas plant in Charles County pro­vided a bit of a headache to lo­cals in re­cent days, but of­fi­cials at the plant say the rumblings that caused a few com­plaints are now over.

Mary Miller of La Plata was asleep in her home off of Hawkins Gate Road Thanks­giv­ing night. All of a sud­den, she said, both she and her hus­band awoke to a loud “seis­mic event” shak­ing their prop­erty.

“It sounded like a freight train or a plane,” Miller said.

Af­ter hear­ing the noise, she and her hus­band went out­side to see what was gen­er­at­ing the sound. Their horses were star­tled and the win­dows of their home were shak­ing, she said.

The vi­bra­tion per­sisted ev­ery night at lower lev­els, but was still an is­sue, Miller said. Later in the week, she was rid­ing along Billings­ley Road in search of the noise and dis­cov­ered it was com- ing from the St. Charles power plant.

Miller said a sher­iff’s deputy on the road pulled up next to her and said the Charles County Sher­iff’s Of­fice re­ceived “so many” com­plaints about the plant’s noise and came to check on the source.

Diane Richard­son, a spokes­woman for the sher- iff’s of­fice, said the de­part- ment re­ceived “at least five calls” re­gard­ing the plant be­tween the night af­ter Thanks­giv­ing and Satur­day, Dec. 3.

Miller said she was con- cerned the noise would per­sist and be part of the plant’s op­er­a­tions in the long term, which could af­fect prop- erty val­ues and lifestyle in Charles County.

How­ever, Steve Sul­li­van, a man­ag­ing di­rec­tor for Com­pet­i­tive Power Ven­tures, said that will not be an is- sue mov­ing for­ward. The source of the noise was “a steam blow.”

“We blow steam through the pipes and drive out any rem­nants of weld­ing or pieces of de­bris. What- ever might be in there, the steam re­moves them from those pipes be­fore they’re per­ma­nently hooked to the fa­cil­ity,” Sul­li­van said.

As of Dec. 6, Sul­li­van said the process for steam blow­ing is over. It was a “one-time event,” he said, the com­pany needed to do be­fore mov­ing into the fi­nal stages of com­plet­ing the plant’s con­struc­tion.

The com­pany did re­ceive many com­plaints about the blow­ing op­er­a­tion, Sul­li­van said, and had not thought to put out any ad­vanced no­tice of the op­er­a­tion. How­ever, Sul­li­van said, it is not some­thing res­i­dents will have to worry about mov­ing for­ward.

“The plant, when it fi­nally op­er­ates, will be much qui­eter,” he said.

In the fu­ture, Sul­li­van said, the com­pany will work on find­ing ways to no­tify the pub­lic of dif­fer­ent pro­cesses that will oc­cur and po­ten­tially cre­ate a pub­lic dis­tur­bance.

There should have been more pub­lic meet­ings and pub­lic no­tice about the plant and any po­ten­tial is­sues it could have, Miller said, and there needs to be more go­ing for­ward. “I didn’t even know about it,” she said.

Miller said just hear­ing the dis­tur­bance one time could per­suade some­one to move out of the county and away from the power plant. Many peo­ple “did not sign up” to live next to one and do not want the in­con­ve­nience of noise in this area.

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