Biomass Pollution and Timeline of Public Comments
The log will be updated as items appear in the news or on the internet.
10/20: Mark, When this week? My wife and I are planning to escape the noise and pollution of your GREC Biomass Plant for 10 days by going to the Atlantic Beaches of Florida. This escape starts with a roll out of our RV from storage on Tuesday AM and then leaving Wednesday AM to comply with Turkey Creek Master Owners Association (TCMOA) RV loading and unloading rules.
So unless you were going to be meeting with me on Monday, my week is busy with a planned surf fishing trip. Your message which arrived at 6:32 PM on Sunday 20 October 2013 provides only Monday for this visit.
The ball is in your court. Let me know what time Monday.
Very Respectfully Yours, Peter V. Perkins, Ph.D.
10/20: Forgot to mention, Comm. Boukari also was told it takes 17 hours to start-up the plant. So it’s not as simple as flipping a switch to start-up or power down.
Quiet times may simply be a function of wind directions. Please share w/ your people. Janye
T: 386-418-1111 C: 352-359-8195 http://www.janehendricks.com
10/20: On Sun, Oct 20, 2013 at 6:41 PM, jane Hendricks <email@example.com> wrote:
According to Commissioner Ben Boukari who spoke at our TCMOA board meeting Wed. Oct 16th after the biomass workshop, the materials to dampen or silence the noise will NOT be installed until early to mid-DECEMBER. He toured the GREC facility Oct 16 & this is what he was told. A specially constructed $500,000 fiberglass foam thing will be installed in the stack. Noise should be gone by mid-Dec. (he says). He suggested we also send complaints to governor’s mailbox.
Debby or Karen: plz send to Ray & Nathan & Jo
Janye T: 386-418-1111 C: 352-359-8195
10/20: Empty promises” – I want to warn Turkey Creek residents and Alachua County Public Works compound employees wearing masks due to dust emitted by the biomass plant.
Despite repeated complaints from residents about toxic dust containing carcinogens from the alleged “cleanup” of the Koppers Superfund site, no one acted to protect citizens.
At citizens’ insistence, there was discussion that the EPA-Beazers plan include relocation of affected residents during the cleanup. However, neither the city or county insisted on this, in effect throwing nearby residents to the wolves.
Federal, state and local governments did nothing to protect us or nearby employees at the city vehicle maintenance facility, where employees also wear dust masks
I hope you find our local politicians and supposed protective agencies more responsive to your concerns than we did, but beware of empty promises. Lucky for you that both city and county commissions include new commissioners who may hear your voices and act in an effective way. Susan Fairforest, (SUN)
10/19: Mark Rodgers Communications Director Energy Management Inc. (EMI) and owner of GREC Requests meeting with Frank Nosko and TC Group – Complete Email timeline exchange (PDF)
10/19: Yes, it’s been interesting. The noise for us went down on Thursday morning and the rest of day. But the roar was back when I woke up Friday morning about 5:25am, and I moved to the front bedroom. Got up around 9am and no noise issue; and none for us the rest of day. I drove by the plant on 441 around 9:30pm and didn’t notice any steam or air emissions. Then today, Sat, again no noise issues for us during the morning, and we were gone all afternoon; but around 10pm tonight, began hearing the roar some. Here we go again? I drove by the plant around 7:45pm and again didn’t notice any steam or air emissions. I too don’t trust the GREC folks and wonder the same as Pete. Greg
10/19: Hey All, The Silence is Golden here at 10385 Palmetto Blvd. as it seems so quiet that I can hear the birds chirp, the squirrels rustling in the live oaks and the sound of an occasional vehicle on one of our neighborhood streets here in Turkey Creek. What’s up?? — Perhaps they (GREC) are playing it nice and quiet in hopes of gaining that Air Permit ( week from coming Monday) they have applied for from EPA/DEP/State of Florida?? I do not trust them and feel that if their air permit goes unchallenged and is granted that we will be listening to the Jet Planes circling w/o taking off, fugitive dust and smelling burning wood indicating many poisons that we cannot detect in nano-particle emissions from their stack. — On the hopeful side, perhaps they are installing those super quieting baffle ‘thingies’ to the stack that will eliminate sound at their fence line. Pete Perkins
10/18 (received) County Adopts Plan to Address Biomass Issues
10/17/2013 – by Carl McKinney, Alachua County Today
The Alachua County Commission came to a decision on how to deal with complaints coming from the Biomass plant .
Residents of Turkey Creek in Alachua have been vocal about the problems with the volume level and dust from the plant since it came online in August.
The Gainesville Renewable Energy Center (GREC) is within Gainesville city limits but after conducting noise tests in Turkey Creek the Gainesville Police Department said the volume is within legal level.
On Tuesday, Oct. 8, the commission unanimously voted for a plan to address the issue.
First, it will send a letter to GREC and the Gainesville City Commission asking to be allowed to take part in dialogues regarding how to solve issues with the plant.
Second, it will send notice to GREC, the City of Gainesville and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection that Alachua County intends to intervene in the permitting proceedings, with the intent to oppose operational permits if satisfactory progress isn’t made to control noise and fugitive dust.
Third, it will send a letter to GREC saying the county, as an affected party, will bring forward public nuisance litigation if progress in addressing the complaints is still lacking.
Finally, it will request that the county attorney and city manager bring back to the commissioners any recommended amendments to the county’s noise ordinances, including the decibel standards.
It will also look into municipalities that request county ordinances be applied in city limits.
While the county, City of Gainesville, City of Alachua and GREC discuss the issue, complaints from residents of Turkey Creek have still been coming in.
“I don’t understand how any of the folks in power can sit back and allow this abusive and invasive noise pollution to continue to affect so many people,” wrote Turkey Creek resident, Greg Williamson in an email to the county commission.
10/18: The Gainesville City commission’s 4/3 vote was a deliberately low, non-binding proposal to which GREC will most likely respond with a counter-offer of $550 + million.
But even if the pollution problems, law suits and noise are fixed, the wood-burning smoke stack could rapidly undermine GRU’s future as a viable public utility with transfer fund amounts capable of running the City’s operations when developers and energy providers team-up to build new homes with built-in power generation that require no GRU electric hookup. The City of Gainesville can NOT afford a DOWNWARD demand for GRU electricity but that’s what they keep voting to do.
More robust than solar, inexpensive fuel cell systems that double the efficiency of natural gas are ready to deliver inexpensive 24/7 technology offered by Redox Power Systems at $800 per kilowatt and other full-duty (24/7) technologies are in the pipeline designed to fully power residential homes – off the GRU grid.
So, the bad news for people smart enough to hate polluting smoke stacks is good news for the accelerated delivery of “sustainable”, alternative energy for new homes that decentralizes the old-fashioned single-point distribution of electricity down miles of ugly, hazardous and costly transmission lines.
Instead, the barely informed City commission voted to take on more crushing debt that would eliminate any possibility that Gainesville/GRU could participate in the “truly” sustainable technology where smoke stacks and ugly transmission lines are a burden of the past. (Tree Hugger) Harold Saive
10/18: Complete picture – The “air inspections” for noise from the new power plant will not give a complete picture. I live 3 miles from the cement plant in Newberry and we “hear” the noise from it 24/7 unless it is down for maintenance.
What we “hear” are the vibrations through the earth from the plant and its support machinery. We also “hear” the train and dynamiting at the rock quarries.
I think that the vibrations from the power plant are part of the noise that people nearby “hear” in their homes. A ground test should show this. The volume may depend on the water table level and soil geology.
Arthur Maltby, Alachua
10/18: Commission votes to make offer on biomass plant
By Christopher Curry Published: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Late Thursday night, the City Commission narrowly voted to make a $400 million non-binding offer to purchase Gainesville’s new biomass plant.
The vote passed 4-3 with Thomas Hawkins, Yvonne Hinson-Rawls, Lauren Poe and Randy Wells in the majority and Susan Bottcher, Mayor Ed Braddy and Todd Chase in dissent.
“We are not obligating ourselves to purchase this plant at this point,” Poe said.
Once the city makes an offer, Gainesville Renewable Energy Center is contractually bound to negotiate in good faith on a potential deal.
GREC informed the city in August it planned to either draw tax equity investors or sell the plant outright. That opened a 60-day window for the city to make an offer. That window expires on Oct. 22.
The voting majority said they felt the purchase could bring savings over the current 30-year contract to purchase power from the plant, which carries about $103 million in annual costs. The majority of the projected savings would come through lower fixed operating costs and because the plant would be off the property tax rolls. Under the current arrangement with GREC operating the plant, the city would pay GREC to run the plant and thus would end up subsidizing GREC’s tax payments.
Some $10 million in projected property taxes would be collected through Gainesville Regional Utilities and its electric customers under the current contract.
Braddy said he did not feel deliberations focused enough on the risks of ownership.
Some $400 million more in debt, uncertain interest rates, a potential debt downgrade and ongoing complaints over noise and dust now are part of the risks.
GRU staff said those issues would have to be reviewed in detail during a due diligence period.
There was significant public comment, all in opposition to making an offer and having GRU staff conduct negotiations. Several speakers pointed to terms they saw as unfavorable in the current contract approved in 2009.
“The public doesn’t trust the negotiations that have taken place so far,” local attorney Ray Washington said. “Why would we trust more negotiations?”
Hinson-Rawls said during her time in office she had heard “gloom and doom” from the public over the terms of the contract and their negative financial impacts on the city. She said purchasing the plant would get the city out of the contract through purchasing the plant and “now nobody wants to do it.”
10/18: City Commission OKs Hunzinger resignation agreement
By Christopher Curry Published: Thursday, October 17, 2013
After years of persistent backlash over the city’s biomass contract, Gainesville Regional Utilities General Manager Bob Hunzinger will step down in mid-November with severance pay.
The City Commission passed the agreement 5-2, with Randy Wells and Yvonne Hinson-Rawls casting the dissenting votes.
Wells’ and Hinson-Rawls’ decisions to oppose Hunzinger’s resignation agreement apparently stem from a legal memo that has come to light involving a rate increase that Hunzinger approved for the biomass plant — apparently going against attorneys’ advice — that is projected to cost GRU and its ratepayers $3.5 million more annually, or $101.5 million more over the 30-year life of the contract.
The memo and Hunzinger’s decision to approve the contract change and thus impose a biomass rate increase apparently had no bearing on Hunzinger’s decision to resign.
The decision in question dates back to March 2011, but the memo advising Hunzinger against approving the change did not become knowledge of current city attorneys or commissioners until now, City Attorney Nicolle Shalley said.
In March 2011, Hunzinger approved the increase in the rates paid to the biomass plant owner in response to a “change in law” or any change in laws, regulations, permits or ordinances governing the plant.
He signed off on a contract modification that increased the contractual rates after the Florida Department of Environmental Protection required a more expensive emissions control system for the plant.
A few months earlier, in December 2010, the utility’s contracted attorneys with the firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe had issued an opinion saying GRU should not bear those costs, according to the memo.
Those attorneys said that, “although not necessarily expected,” the DEP decision was not a change in law because it kept with the agency’s longstanding practice of requiring the best available pollution control technology.
Shalley said her staff was not aware of the memo until Commissioner Wells began making requests for legal opinions, including those from Orrick, related to change-in-law provisions of the contract.
Hinson-Rawls questioned if this information was being brought forward now in an effort to show Hunzinger could be terminated with cause and receive no severance. Shalley said that, because Wells had seen the memo, she felt other commissioners should have access to it to decide if it was relevant to their decision.
Shalley said her staff was continuing to review whether Hunzinger had authority to commit the city to the rate increases in the biomass contract and if the city had grounds to launch a legal fight to have the changes he approved rescinded.
Wells and Hinson-Rawls said that, in light of the memo, they did not have enough information to vote in support of Hunzinger’s resignation agreement.
Hunzinger’s attorney, Tad Delegal, questioned why a 2½-year-old memo surfaced on the “eve” of the vote on Hunzinger’s resignation. He said there was no assurance that the legal opinion expressed in the memo was correct.
“If all attorneys’ advice were 100 percent right all the time, there would be a lot fewer of us,” he said.
As for the resignation settlement, the City Commission on Thursday approved an agreement that will pay Hunzinger 20 weeks of base pay, or roughly $85,700 of his $222,850 annual salary. The agreement includes a condition that he not pursue any legal action against the city.
The prior terms of Hunzinger’s contract called for 26 weeks’ pay if he was terminated without cause but had no provision for a severance package if he resigned.
Hunzinger also will receive payment from the city equal to 20 weeks of the city’s contributions to his health insurance, life insurance and retirement.
In early September, Mayor Ed Braddy initiated a series of meetings with Hunzinger on his eventual resignation and the transition to an interim general manager.
“I ultimately came to the conclusion that it was in the best interest of all parties at this time,” Hunzinger told commissioners on Thursday.
Hunzinger declined an interview request.
Meantime, three internal candidates for interim general manager identified Thursday were David Beaulieu, the assistant general manager for energy delivery; Kathy Viehe, the assistant general manager for customer support services; and David Richardson, the assistant general manager for water and wastewater systems and acting chief financial officer.
Hunzinger began with the city in March 2008 and soon after was charged with overseeing staff’s negotiations on the contract for Gainesville’s new biomass plant. Along with some former and current members of the City Commission, Hunzinger has been the subject of criticism over the terms of that biomass contract, which has the city paying more than $130 a megawatt-hour for electricity. The contract will increase electric rates that already rank among the highest in the state.
In sometimes pointed words at meetings over the past few years, members of the public opposed to the contract have criticized Hunzinger for negotiating terms they say are financially unfavorable to the city and its ratepayers.
There also have been allegations that Hunzinger overstepped his authority and violated a city ordinance when he began using the fuel charge on current electric customers to build up a fund to ease the rate hikes when the plant goes online.
In August, with the city mired in an arbitration battle with the biomass plant owner, Hunzinger said he had not signed any proposed settlement that would grant concessions that the biomass company sought.
At the next meeting, he said he had misspoken and indeed had signed a settlement. The City Commission had the final authority to approve such a settlement. Commissioners eventually rejected the settlement and the biomass company dropped its arbitration counterclaim in August without receiving contract concessions.
A few weeks later, Braddy initiated his meetings with Hunzinger.
On Thursday, Commissioner Yvonne Hinson-Rawls asked if Braddy had the authority to unilaterally begin discussions with a charter officer on his or her resignation.
“I am not surprised there is an effort to make me the issue,” Braddy said. “I can handle it.”
Braddy said he approached Hunzinger speaking for himself as one elected official, not the entire City Commission. Any agreement would need the approval of Hunzinger and at least four commissioners, he said.
10/17: In February 2010, GREC officials met in Turkey Creek with a large group of Turkey Creek subdivision residents and told them that they won’t even know the biomass plant was there when it began operating. Well, that has been the farthest thing from the truth since the plant fired up in mid-August 2013. Turkey Creek residents were obviously deceived and heard a “plainly audible” lie from GREC officials at that meeting. For two months now, residents of Turkey Creek and Hague have been suffering from noise, odors, and/or particles coming from the biomass plant. Alachua County employees have also suffered at the county facility next to the plant. Shame on all parties involved if DEP issues the air permit.
Greg Williamson Turkey Creek resident
10/17: At 3:00 AM this AM (17 September 2013) I stepped onto my East facing Patio at 10385 Palmetto Blvd. in Turkey Creek and listened to the Jets Roaring but never taking off from the GREC Biomass Plant. The smell of a wood-fire hit my nose and I thought with overnight lows around 66 degrees Fahrenheit, surely nobody is burning a fire in their fireplace to warm their house. I noted that a slight ENE breeze was blowing at the time and thought “If those stack scrubbers are doing such a fine job and just need to have some noise insulation to quiet then why aren’t they getting rid of the odor of wood-fire smoke?? Something is not right here. Someone needs an immediate third party sampling of what is coming out of the Biomass power plant smoke stack before the Air Permit is approved a week from this coming Monday. This is serious, because the residents of Turkey Creek, other communities nearby and Alachua County are being exposed to God knows what in the air they are breathing when the wind is right and GREC Biomass is running. Who is responsible for hiring a third party to sample the air coming out of the GREC Biomass Smokestack?
Sincerely Yours, Peter V. Perkins, Ph.D.
10/17: Truly shocked: I’m writing to say you’ve got to be kidding, Gainesville Renewable Energy Center. I live at Turkey Creek and the noise sounds like a 747 is about ready to take-off from the biomass plant. I am partially deaf and wear hearing aids, and the noise is still so loud that my husband and I are truly shocked that the city of Gainesville is actually considering running this plant.
All the talk about this city being a “green city” is so much fluff. We are appalled that you have so little consideration for those of us who live in this very large neighborhood of Turkey Creek. Do you actually want us to live with this for the next 30 years while you pay off this gigantic debt you have incurred? What do you expect us to do, just keep quiet and put up with this? — Linda Blauw, Alachua (SUN)
10/17: Paula H. Stahmer: Gainesville should not consider purchasing biomass plant
By Paula H. Stahmer
Special to The Sun
The only “slam dunk” aspects of the biomass contract are the inflated contract price, unseemly profits and additional extortionate demands made to benefit the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center’s owners, causing exorbitant above-market costs to the ratepayers
Those costs could be compounded by impending carbon regulation, pollution from fugitive dust and unconscionable noise, and increased carbon dioxide emissions, all for energy we do not need and cannot sell. That was not the deal everyone thought the city was making. *** Continue
10/16: TIME NOW FOR THE SUN’S NEWS DECISION MAKERS TO MOVE BEYOND PARROTING GRU PRESS RELEASES
This is not the time for recriminations, but it IS the time for the community to have access to information crucial to protecting the community going forward,
The community now more than ever needs good reporting by The Gainesville Sun to help explain the realty behind this latest GRU development and to understand what is behind Mr. Hunzinger’s continuing efforts to convince a group of City Commissioners to sign off on a plan that would have GRU to take on hundreds of millions of dollars in new debt — to be paid off years in the future by GRU ratepayers — in order to put excessive profits in the hands of out of state and overseas speculators now gathered under the rubric “GREC,” and described by Mr. Hunzinger and five members of the City Commission as their “partners.”
It is long past time for The Sun to stop allowing Mr. Hunzinger and some of his City Commission allies to keep crucial information secret from the public, and time for The Sun to raise the level of its commitment to investigatory journalism beyond and to redeem itself after years of essentially retyping GRU news releases prepared by GRU PR staff and hired publicists paid at GRU ratepayer expense.
Remember the press release put out by GRU in 2009 after Mr. Hunzinger convinced his City Commission allies to allow a group of out of state and overseas speculators to abandon their binding bid to provide biomass generated electricity at a fixed price and to abandon standard financial protections intended to benefit GRU customers — details of which Mr. Hunzinger convinced his commission allies to keep secret from the public for more than three decades.
That May 7, 2009 News release, in case you have forgotten it, justified the deal Hunzinger negotiated with his GREC allies as follows:
“Since GREC will build and own the plant, Hunzinger said there will be no impact on customer bills until it comes online in 2013. Then customers will see a small increase in the fuel adjustment.”
“No impact on customer bills” = $27 million in overcharges in 2010-2013 to pay GREC’s investors 2014-2016; $1.5 million in payments to GREC investors to assist them in acquiring 1.4 million gallons of water a day to feed their biomass money machine’s appetite for our water.
“Then customers will see a small increase in the fuel adjustment” = when the GREC biomass contract kicks in in December 2013, the true cost fuel adjustment charge of $39 per 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity will rise to a GREC contract inflated $71 per 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, a “small” increase of 82%.
Now imagine the press release GRU may could put out in October 2013:
“After successfully leading GRU from 2007-2013 with modest base compensation totalling barely over $1 million, on the eve of delivering record renewable energy to GRU customers, GRU General Manager Robert Hunzinger announced Tuesday he would be leaving GRU on November 15 in order to pursue other opportunities he has foregone in order to make GRU the most successful full service utility in Alachua County. Hunzinger said he is also looking forward to spending more time with John Stanton’s family.”
Seriously, I hope the news decision-makers at The Sun are able to suck up past errors and begin to support the efforts of talented reporters capable of and willing to dig deeply into one of the most important local stories of the decade.
Ray Washington (SUN Comment)
10/16: GRU General Manager Hunzinger resigning — Gainesville Regional Utilities General Manager Bob Hunzinger, who has been the focus of much of the criticism over the city’s biomass contract, will resign next month. Hunzinger announced his resignation, effective Nov. 15, in a letter he co-wrote with Mayor Ed Braddy and released on Wednesday. SUN
10/16 – received: American Lung Association of New England letter attached.
November 16, 2009
The Honorable John F. Kerry
One Bowdoin Square
Boston, MA 02114
Dear Senator Kerry,
My name is Scott Keays and I am the Public Policy Manager for the American Lung Association in Massachusetts. My reason for contacting you today is to encourage you to: (1) NOT grant Renewable Energy Credits to biomass, as well as, (2) to NOT grant any other preferential treatment of biomass in any of the energy or climate change legislation.
Although often praised because of its renewable quality, the American Lung Association in Massachusetts views biomass burning as a significant source of air pollution. Burning wood, like burning any other substance, releases toxic chemicals and particles which can negatively affect both the environment and respiratory health. In particular, biomass emissions contain fine particulate matter, sulfur oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and various irritant gases such as nitrogen oxides that can scar the lungs. Like cigarettes, biomass emissions also contain chemicals that are known or suspected to be carcinogens, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and dioxin.
For vulnerable populations, such as people with asthma, chronic respiratory disease, and those with cardiovascular disease, biomass and diesel emissions are particularly harmful. Even short exposures can prove deadly. An increasing number of studies are pointing to the direct impact of increase particle pollution levels and an increase in heart attacks. The particles produced by biomass and diesel emissions are extremely small and are unable to be filtered out of our respiratory system. Instead, these small particles end up deep in the lungs where they remain for months, causing structural damage and chemical changes. In some cases the particle can move through the lungs and penetrate the bloodstream.
The concerns about generating electricity through biomass become even more troubling when you consider how wasteful and inefficient, this source of power is. When used strictly for electricity production, biomass plants have an energy conversion efficiency (efficiency of a device that converts one energy form into another) of approximately 20 percent. Another way to state this is that for every 4 cords of wood burned, only one actually produces electricity even though all 4 produce pollution. This statistic is even more alarming when you consider that, when combined, all five biomass plants proposed for Western Massachusetts will meet only 1% of the state’s energy needs.
Like the other New England states, Massachusetts already suffers from poor air quality and has some of the highest asthma rates in the nation. As advocates for healthy air and lungs, the American Lung Association in Massachusetts believes that these facts demonstrate that our state can no longer afford to compromise our health in favor of energy production. Given the technology and the natural resources available to us, we do not believe that anyone should be forced to choose between electric power and their health. It is a false choice we need not make. The air we breathe should not make us sick, period.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Scott B. Keays, MPH
Public Policy Manager
American Lung Association in Massachusetts
10/15: My former neighbor, Sylvia Anglen sent me this e-mail today. I felt it needed to be forwarded so that you can see, the Horse Farms are now seeing & feeling the brunt of this “BioMass Haze” that is creeping into ALL of our lives.
I know that GREC is trying to buy time, so they can get the “tax incentives” & find a new group of investor’s to buy the plant, while Human’s & Animals are enduring the effects of the “fugitive dust”, now, all the way out in the country farms.
Knowing that Citizens have begged & pleaded for attention to get these matters addressed, along with the mind-numbing noise…..only to be told “give GREC time to fix these issues”……… as if Our Health & Sanity could spare such patience.
I have witnessed Chris Byrd’s “Thou Shalt Have NO DUST” declaration during the October 8th, County Commission Meeting re: EPA’S Zero Tolerance for Fugitive Dusk declaration, yet GREC is constantly getting a “free pass”, while our lungs & pets lungs are compromised.
WHEN WILL THE MADNESS STOP ? SHUT THE PLANT DOWN, FIX THE PROBLEM– BEFORE IT IS ALLOWED TO OPERATE, S-T-O-P ALLOWING GREC TO POLLUTE OUR AIR & CONTAMINATE OUR ENVIRONMENT!
Sincerely, Lynn Coullias Oaks of Hague Resident since 77′
10/15: Blowing in the wind: According to The Sun’s Oct. 9 article, dust from the biomass plant is not a continuous problem because it depends on weather conditions such as wind. In the article, Alachua County Environmental Protection Director Chris Bird stated that it is still an issue that needs to be addressed.
The article was probably read by the Gainesville city commissioners. In order to protect the investment made in the biomass plant, I’m sure several of them are considering an ordinance to regulate when, how hard and which direction the wind can blow. – Dan Mesa, Gainesville
10/14: This email From Alachua County Commissioner Robert Hutchinson regarding biomass incinerator problems
Dear Alachua County Resident:
I am writing to people who have contacted the County Commission regarding problems associated with the operations of the GREC biomass plant. I have visited the area four times in the last few weeks, including in the wee hours soon after the initial complaints were received. I have talked with residents, GRU staff, elected officials, County environmental and code enforcement staff, and sound experts. This is a frustrating and dangerous problem that I truly believe everybody is taking seriously.
The motion that I proposed and that passed the County Commission on a unanimous vote last Tuesday (11/8) is appended to the end of this message. I discussed its implications with GREC officials two days later.
What GREC officials explained is that the whooshing “jet engine” sound is coming from the top of the stack; the stack is a tube through which fast-moving exhaust is creating a horn effect. They have designed and ordered baffles to act as a muffler, and they expect them to be installed within weeks. Other sounds that I clearly heard, of clanking and squeaking machinery (from fuel handling and conveyors), has been acknowledged and is being worked on.
GREC also recognizes the problems of fugitive dust, and they are looking at solutions including re-locating the main fuel stack, misting, changing operational procedures, etc.
My opinion, which I expressed to them, is that the solution is ultimately going to require containment in structures such as silos, bunkers, or other buildings, and that the sooner all parties come to this conclusion and started dealing with it, the better.
You are being impacted with the brunt of the biomass plant, and this is an unfair burden. It is difficult to be patient under these circumstances, and we are doing what we can to pressure GREC into making the additional investments that will be needed to make the problems disappear. My recommendation is to keep reporting the noise, odor, and dust issues; organizing this information is important as it will help in regulatory or legal proceedings in the future.
What is not useful, and can cause your message to become distorted or discounted, are unsubstantiated claims, conspiracy theories, or accusations that nobody cares.
I have been involved in many environmental battles over the decades, and there are lessons from battles won and battles lost that are instructive.
As somebody who supports biomass as a bridge fuel into a more sustainable future, nobody is more disappointed than myself about how the start-up of this plant has gone. Getting to the best possible solution is going to require balancing diplomacy with regulatory and legal muscle, and my hope is that you will help us recognize when one or the other is most likely to lead to success.
Please feel free to contact me at any time with your thoughts,
Alachua County Commissioner
(352) 256-6043 [cell]
10/14: Now the the biomass plant is coming online we’re finding out that even the opponents under-estimated the cost, much less the noise pollution and the dust pollution. What I want to know is where are our former Mayors, Pegeen Hanrahan and Craig Lowe, now that this is all coming to light? They fired the man that was in charge of GRU who told them it was going to be too expensive. As soon as the plant was forced down everyone’s throat, they ran around the County patting themselves on the back. I think it’s time they answered for it. Now!. (Oct, 14 2012 – Speaking Out, Sun, 2B)
10/14: Judy Hooker: Victims of the biomass plant
By Judy Hooker – Special to The Sun
Published: Monday, October 14, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
The city of Gainesville government isn’t the intelligent, forward thinking group I would have imagined. Wasn’t the Koppers site enough? Is it somehow cool to victimize an otherwise beautiful community for financial gain? People and wildlife alike will pay a huge price for your callous actions.
I am speaking of the Turkey Creek area that was selected for extinction by way of a biomass wood-burning plant. This plant sounds like a jet plane and looks like my idea of hell. But I don’t think noise is the worst of many unwelcome gifts from this plant. As I sat on my porch recently, I was assaulted by a smell in the air. As I approached the front gate in my car later, I smelled the same odor again. Who is planning to monitor this monstrosity? Will it be done better or worse than Koppers?
Most of the residents of Turkey Creek are seniors. I suspect that is why this particular site was chosen to erect something so controversial. Someone understood we came here to retire and enjoy nature and golf. They figured we wouldn’t be inclined to fight for what was already promised us. We worked hard to earn the right to retire in a special place. We certainly wouldn’t have chosen to live close to a biomass plant.
I challenge any of you who had any input in this project to put your life savings into a dream home in Turkey Creek, close to the noise and smoke you sanction for others. Of course that will not happen. You will choose to be far from what you would have us contend with. You have robbed us all of much of our enjoyment of retirement, apparently without conscience — and yes, we have been robbed!
Burning coal or wood is a matter to take seriously when there are concentrations of people as exists here. I grew up in southwest Virginia where coal mining was the only occupation and coal the source of heat until around 1960. My father worked around the mines in the capacity of electrical engineer. When he became aware of the dangers of burning coal, he switched over to electric heat.
We need to have emissions testing out here. There are children here and little bodies are particularly vulnerable to poison. I have long worried about the big Gainesville Regional Utilities coal-burning plant not three miles from us. Until recently, many of the women and men here were out two times a week or more playing golf under those smokestacks. If the truth were known, I believe it could be a factor in the high numbers of chronic lung problems and cancers here. For example, my husband and I qualify.
From the inception of the biomass plant, there was a group of informed residents fighting to save the integrity of this community. We are not the only community affected by the problems that have already occurred. However, we do pay an inordinately high tax for the privilege of living where it is no longer a great privilege. Our voices should be heard.
The plant is simply a mistake of enormous proportions. You have proven you can get what you want. Buy it. Close it. Bypass the cleanup.
Judy Hooker lives in the Turkey Creek neighborhood.
The Gainesville Sun
10/14: New comment on your post “Alachua County Employees Impacted by Gainesville Comp Plan Violation”
Author : Barbara Snowberger (IP: 220.127.116.11 , cpe-76-172-24-180.socal.res.rr.com) ( CALIFORNIA)
Comment: These catastrophes take a toll on all of us. I still remember the ash from the Rodney King riot here in Los Angeles. Even up here in the foothills, several miles away from the fires, we had toxic ash falling on our cars and homes and apartment building. They polluted our pool, damaged the paint on the cars parked out in the open, and lots of our birds died from it. I had a tame blue jay at the time. She/he came and stayed in my apartment for several days and nights, only leaving to defecate. My cats didn’t want to go outside, and none of them ever laid a paw on jay-jay. When the winds died down and the toxic ash stopped falling after the rains came, jay-jay resumed her life in the canyon, but I know he/she was grateful for the respite of bird seed, peanuts, and water she had in my apartment during the siege. We are ALL affected negatively by these man-made tragedies. It’s time for corporations to stop thinking about their ‘bottom lines of profit’ first, and take responsibility for their damages.
10/13: Good Evening: I’ve recently watched the October 8th, 2013 Alachua County Commission Meeting.
Rick Wolf, Chris Byrd & Michael Faye, ALL employee’s of Alachua County approached the podium to speak on the BioMass Plant. Michael Faye, displayed photo’s on the Overhead projector, clearly showing “wood chips” that have fallen on the window sill’s of County vehicles parked at the Public Works Department Compound in Hague. He also mentioned that County Employee’s working @ Public Works, are “wearing masks” now as a result of the Fugitive Dust & Wood Ash that is falling on their compound. Chris Byrd, EPA Director, expressed concern for the “Health of these County Employee’s” ?
What about the Taxpaying Citizens of the nearby neighborhood’s ? The photo’s that I presented were put on the overhead, yet, it was dismissed as ” Fog” or “Steam” escaping from the BioMass Plant, I can attest, I have witnessed the “Steam” that Deerhaven has put out on numerous occasions, this was NOT Steam or Fog, as implied.
For the Record, I have lived in Hague for (3) decades. Clearly there is a “haze” that is cloaking my neighborhood. I have attached two photo’s that I’ve taken recently showing the “haze” that is coming down CR25A, from the direction of the BioMass Plant. These photo’s were taken from my yard.
This is Fugitive Dust. It is Pollution coming from this “STATE OF THE ART FACILITY”.
I am still recuperating from Bronchitis & still on a inhaler. I’ve spoken with several of my neighbor’s, who also speak of “sore throats”.
WE are just as important as the County Employee’s, WE have been here, living a Quiet & Peaceful existence, until the onset of this BioMass Debacle.
I am sending these photograph’s to let you know, that GREC has not complied with the EPA’S –“Zero Tolerance of Fugitive Dust” Ordinance’s.
Sincerely, Lynn Coullias Oaks of Hague Resident since 77′
10/13: To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Horrible Smell Like Sweet Alcohol & Wood Date: Sun, 13 Oct 2013 20:57:49 -0400
Gus, The stench outside at 8:55PM Sunday night smells like sweet alcohol and wood…it is OVERPOWERING to me. I was outside trying to capture the sound for our officials and the smell made me sick. It was not there about 7:30 when I was out earlier. Thanks, Kimberly Sims, Creekside Villas, Turkey Creek
10/13: Political will — Blowing in the wind — that’s where the questions are that never got answered, that’s where the actions are that haven’t been taken. Power concedes nothing, without a demand.
I believe that this saying is sad but true. Otherwise why are Turkey Creek residents, including some with serious health conditions, not being offered immediate relief from the life-threatening stress imposed upon them by the biomass plant noise and air pollution? It is shameful.
While they wait for our elected officials — city and county, Gainesville and Alachua — to muster up the political will to do their job, citizens are suffering. Please don’t say you feel their pain; take the necessary actions to alleviate it.
Adele Franson, Gainesville
10/13: Running out the clock — Gainesville Regional Utilities — in its effort to convince the commission to buy the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center incinerator, a reverse of its previous position — bombarded the commission with 15 hours of hired consultants.
Much of the testimony was repetitive, giving rise to the idea this was designed to run the clock out on public comments at thousands of dollars an hour.
Since citizens are the most difficult barrier for the promoters of a purchase of GREC, this may be worth the effort for GRU. They know if the public had been allowed to see an unredacted contract and ask the obvious questions, GREC nor the power purchase agreement would never have happened.
The next election, although several months away, is another impediment to the purchase because two seats are up for re-election and one is open, giving more impetus to citizen concerns. But with the present commission make-up, anything can happen. Mac McEachern, Gainesville
10/11: I was copied of your email this morning. I drove by the plant today around 9:45 and did not notice any unusual odors. I’m heading now to Public Works for an unrelated meeting and I will ask them if they noticed anything unusual yesterday. Odors, fugitive emissions and air releases can sometimes be very hard to investigate, because they can occur for very short periods of time. If this happens again, it would be very helpful if you notify us as soon as possible. I can be reached by cell at (352) 275-1344 or email at email@example.com. I’m sure we can have somebody onsite within a reasonable amount of time so we can document and investigate the incident. Also, if the incident is an Hazardous Materials EMERGENCY you should call 911.
I am also copying the Florida Department of Environmental Protection so they are aware of the incident. They were already scheduled to do a site inspection tomorrow.
Let me know if you need anything else.
Gus Olmos, P.E., Water Resources Manager – Alachua County Environmental Protection Department
10/11: The other day BIOMESS was discharging vapor from an area to the right of the plant as you view it from 441. I doubt this exhaust is monitored. Many times the stack is a red herring and the real problem originates some where else. Example the piles of wood chips or lime rock dust from the area around the plant if it not paved. My wife & I did have the same experience one night last week. Frank Nosko
10/9: At approximated 1430 hrs I turned into the biomass plant truck delivery entrance from US 441 to collect samples of wood chips spilled onto the road by delivery trucks. While preparing to collect samples I was overcome by a pungent odor followed by a burning sensation in my throat and eye irritation. I immediately placed a high-filtration 3-M mask over my face to filter the breathable air. Burning in my throat continued for approximately 3 hours following arrival at my home office. I immediately showered and isolated all clothing in a plastic bag. At 1845 hours symptoms of eye and throat irritation persist.
At 1415 Hrs I had personally witnessed the biomass incinerator as active complete with noise and smoke stack emissions. Local weather conditions included winds from the direction of the incinerator causing the emissions to drift directly towards my location at the delivery truck entrance to the incinerator.
I would characterize the biomass odor emissions as similar to a stock yard. By the time one is aware of an odor, it’s likely that the victim has already inhaled the particulates that caused the odor. This should be of great concern to employees working at the adjacent County facility. The masks they are using are not rated for the most hazardous nano-dust particulates.
Considering the symptoms, the Biomass incinerator should immediately be considered a HAZMAT concern until further analysis rules this out.
10/9: I just opened my door in the kitchen to my screened porch to listen for noise – was quiet so smelled the cooler air and decided to leave door open for some fresh air for a change – guess what? I was in another room quite a distance from kitchen when I was aware of an obtrusive smell forgetting that I had opened the door to the outside a short time before. Well, here it is – the smell from the GREC plant is now in my home, and I have very quickly developed a headache!
10/8 Risking our money (Former Mayor, Mark Goldstein, (SUN letter to editor)
It was confusing when a new study concluded the city should buy into a business that can’t sell its product. A Gainesville Regional Utilities executive presented hypothetical outcomes last week from the analysis to city commissioners.
The analysis predicted that our chances of not losing too much were better than our chances of losing too much. It included theoretical assumptions suggesting that it is probably OK to buy into a $200 to $700 million crap game where the losers own the overpriced facility and the winners leave with the money.
Although it didn’t appear that anyone understood how the analysis works, the GRU executive and other folks told the commission that it’s probably OK to risk our money. It did seem like GRU executives provided more opinion than their study allowed.
Years ago some former mayor-commissioners, including myself, expressed worry that we might wind up owning an overpriced industrial facility that could lead us into bankruptcy. The worry continues.
10/7: “By this letter we not only voice our senous concerns as articulated above, but ask that you shut it down, conduct more research as to whether placement anywhere in Gainesville is viable without risk to human health and the environment and if alternate placement is not viable, scrp it and replace the trees removed during construction.” (Gainesville Sun – The week in Words)
10/7: “It reminded me very much like all of the times I have spent on military airbases around the world with the constant sound of jets taking off. It was not as if they were flying right over you, rather it was just a constant roar as we keep reading about and reminded me very much of being in my room on base andjust always hearing the sound of the planes.” — Commissioner, Todd Chase (Gainesville Sun – The week in Words)
10/7: As I lay awake listening to the roar ofthe biomass plant, wondering how I will make it to work tomorrow, a few observations seem necessary. Several years ago, the city commission and mayor ran off Mike Kurtz who was a strong, effective GRU general manager. He wanted to construct a natural gas plant that provided cheap, clean energy. The city wanted the biomass plant, so they hired the weak, ineffectual GRU manager, Bob Hunzinger. In addition to Hunzinger’s cheerleading for the boondoggle GREC, his knee-jerk reactions have run off good upper-level managers and replaced them with less qualified managers. It’s time for Hunzinger to go. (GNV Sun, Sound-off)
10/7: To all of you people in Gainesville who are upset about the noise from the biomass plant, you need to worry about the devastation it is causing in areas where they’re cutting down hundreds of acres of trees to feed that giant monster. This is the worst idea that that bunch in Gainesville have ever had. Go down State Road 47 (and) see the devastation. I pass those trucks (that are) heading for the biomass plant all the time. This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen . (GNV Sun, Sound-off)
10/6: Pete, being retired I no longer have many contacts that could dig deep into the players in this fiasco.
A friend on Wall street told me Mr. Gordon is known for shady deals and threatening huge lawsuits once he gets in. Once we file either a nuisance noise complaint or a class action suit for declining property values due to noise & pollution we will see just what kind of neighbor we now have. The Gainesville City Commissioners refer to us as gnats and want to squash us for Mr. Gordon. I do fell we will fight on.
10/6: Hello, My name is Peter Perkins and I live in a small gated community (1040 households) called Turkey Creek Golf and Country Club. Our golf course closed during recession, but I won’t go into that. However, Big Money from Boston and our nearest neighbor city Gainesville have conspired to ruin our quiet peaceful community by building a Biomass Plant directly across State Road 441 (West) from our community( approx. 1/4 mile away). This plant burns wood chips to produce electricity. It is a monster 100 Megawatt noise and air pollution problem to our community. Our community and nearby neighborhoods were lied to on February 24, 2010 at a presentation meeting by American Renewables/Gainesville Renewable Energy Company (GREC) officials. Their statements to over 200 people when asked about noise problems with Biomass Plants in New England were as follows: “This will be a state-of-art plant and will be so quiet that you will not even know we are there, and the noise 200 feet from our property line will be less than the traffic noise on 441.”
The plant began testing, and operations in August 2013 and the noise pollution is dramatic , horrible and causing many of our homeowners to lose sleep, move to different bedrooms or try to sleep on the couch or in a chair of their homes to get away from the sound. Some have changed their windows to get greater air space between the glass panes to try to dampen the sound, to no avail.
The plant manager has sent soothing letters about how the plant is just testing systems and getting up and running and that noise problems will be dampened as soon as their hired noise engineers get test results back and make recommendations for modifications….blah, blah, blah. We are completely aware of the history and current problems of noise and air pollution from Biomass plants and fear that the city of Gainesville will be stuck with this lemon and that our little community will be lost due to the big money and unethical people of GREC. This is the same group (Same CEO) that is fighting to put windmills in the ocean/bays off some nice areas of the North East. The little folks (regular people) are not able to mount enough complaints (although they have filed hundreds with local Police Department of Gainesville and the city of Alachua. We have attended the Alachua City Commission meetings, Gainesville City Commission meetings, and the Alachua County Commission meetings in numbers from a dozen to 30 or more to voice our complaints during public comment periods…..to no avail. The commissions spend their time pointing fingers at the other entities as to whom has the jurisdiction or who should do something while Turkey Creek residents go without sleep.
Please have one of your investigative reporters check with the local news stations, Internet, etc. to validate this critical problem. We must stop this plant from becoming operational and allowing the GREC CEO to Flip it as he has with other Biomass plants like the famous Austin, TX plant that sits idle because the electricity it produces is too expensive to sell.
Thank You for Your FOX News Broadcasts that provide us the news daily (our TV is tuned to Fox/Fox Business with occasional interruptions to local news/weather).
Peter V. Perkins, Ph.D.
COL, US Army retired
Courtesy Professor, University of Florida (Gainesville)
10385 Palmetto Boulevard
Turkey Creek, Alachua, FL 32615-9304
These photo’s are off of US441 & one of the BioMass Structure itself, engulfed in the “Haze”
I was diagnosed with Bronchitis this past Wednesday & for the 1st time in my life, I’m on a “inhaler”.
I am deeply concerned for My Health & My Children’s Health, due to the “particulates” that GREC keeps
claiming are NOT OF CONCERN.
I Beg To Differ ! Sincerely, Lynn Coullias Oaks of Hague Resident since 77′
10/5: I am desperate because of medical issues and need this resolved as soon as possible. We, and I know I speak for many neighbors, have had this nightmare forced on us without any way to stop it. We were deceived by American Renewables at their informational meeting at Turkey Creek Golf Club when they told us “We would not even realize they were there”. Were we also deceived as to the emissions which I understand now have become more liberal since this project caries a “Carbon Neutral” moniker?
We rely on our elected officials to protect our simple rights. GREC needs to take down the incinerator and to restore the trees which once blocked the noise from Deerhaven. To quote John Irving (Facility Manager of the McNeil Biomass in Burlington, Vermont, which was the model for the GREC plant) “One lesson learned is that it is best to site a biomass plant far from residential neighborhoods”. Yes sir, in this case the City Commission did not know or care about our rights to live in our own homes when they approved this nightmare.
Not to be a wise guy, but I wonder why they did not locate this plant on the back fields of J. J. Finley School. The obvious answer is that would be in the ex mayor’s neighborhood, and her neighbor’s would not stand for it. My question is why as a citizen of Alachua do we not have the same rights? — TC resident
10/5: Turkey Creek has it problems thanks to the biomass plant. If a resident wanted to sell their home, who would buy it now? The golf course is for sale; who would buy a golf course where a golfer could not enjoy peace and quiet? Something needs to be done! Linda DiTomaso, Alachua – Letter to Editor – Peace and quiet – http://www.gainesville.com/article/20131005/OPINION02/131009881/1017?p=all&tc=pgall
10/4: I can already feel the impact on the air quality. With some of my health issues following my stroke; stress is an extreme factor. That being said, there is nothing as bad as felling like you are not going to be able to take in a breath of pure clean air. In making multi- trips to the Hague Cemetery I will have to be very careful when I walk the acreage. Tuesday night I made a trip to my mailbox to do a mail out and, most times I will take a short walk; this time the minute I went out the door the air hit me in the face. When I was back in the house I started to cough, and my husband made question about the issue, He went out and had the same experience. I guess they were testing, or just playing with fire ! ! ? ? The sad part is I do not want to spend the rest of my life having to take medication because of stupid decisions that others make on my behalf while spending our tax dollars ! Thanks for your work, Dee W. Watson
10/4: After reading the (PPA) contract I can’t believe an attorney recommended signing it. – Frank Nosko
10/4: I talked with the manufacturer of the GPD’s testing equipment and a sound engineer. The sampling they are doing is basically incorrect since it is a random noise sampling device and doesn’t differentiate the different frequencies as Harold Saive has talked about. It could also be set un be known to the operator incorrectly and still be in calibration. This is because their base number in my back yard was so low on their meter but the road noise and the plant noise was clearly audible as stated by the lieutenant. I am sure the lieutenant and the student had never completely read the instructions or taken a course. As a person who did environmental sampling for 20 years I personally can say meters are only as accurate as they are set up and I was duped by my employee once into believing we did accurate sampling when in reality we did not. The correct equipment cost closer to $6000. I am looking into the rental cost if one can be rented. An the noise continues and increases at night. Frank Nosko
10/4: 10:30 PM – Ladies & Gentleman – Having listened to the GREC explanation Tuesday evening of the extensive work that has been done to determine the source of the noise the results of your efforts so far are a dismal failure. The roar of the burners is punctuated by the pungent stench of the rotting wood. The poor guy running the convenience store that it was his dumpster. I though I was in Palatka. To keep it short sweet Mr. Morales & Ms Hyler your press releases are only conversation. It is time for real action. It has been 7 weeks of tweeking. – Nauseous in Turkey Creek – Frank Nosko
10/4: I can hear it roaring away up in Creekside. Bothers me that it seems quieter during the daylight and gets louder between 10 pm and 6 am. Aren’t those the times it is supposed to be quieter? Grrrrrrr. ….Kimberly
10/4: Howdy, It’s 8:00 PM Fridat evening and the Biomass serenade is as loud as ever experienced here at 10385 Palmetto Blvd…… more than one mile est of GREC’s Monster! Can’t imagine how bad it must be at Creek Side Villas and at Larry, Russ and Janye’s condos. If this is better, don’t want to hear worse. We were lied to again with false statements of fixing and dampening sound levels. The heavy base beat is strong and clear here and must be nice elsewhere in Turkey Creek and other subdivisions along 441. How, I have to ask did they get permits from DEP/EPA to put such a Monster Biomass Plant at this location? Totally frustrated in Turkey Creek, Pete Perkins
10/3: Hey you guys, I couldn’t make the meeting downtown Gainesville last night, but you all did us proud here in Turkey Creek by taking our complaints to the Mayor, City Manager, Commissioners, and their Lawyer. We are on the right side of this and will prevail. Things still look dark, but word is getting out and the city of Gainesville would have to be really stupid to go to GREC with a ROFO when the place is not going to sell to anyone. The potential buyers are seeing the complaints and potential noise/air pollution suits of our and surrounding communities and they don’t want to buy trouble. The GRU isn’t running the plant and GREC isn’t running the plant as we discovered last evening.
The current company folks running it are hired guns and only do what is paid for by GREC. GREC isn’t going to fix noise problems that might be passed on to GRU/Gainesville/NewCO when they sell. But they won’t sell if anyone with any sense looks at the risks involved. Money talks and BS walks, let’s not give up because the BS from Boston must be stopped or we and our county will suffer. The interest rates will change and not in favor of borrowing $$ to buy this pig in a poke.
Anyway, although not there in the room I did watch the whole meeting on TV 12 from 5:00 to 11:26 PM. And I was very proud of each of you.
10/3: I was talking to the folks at Quest. They said to properly analyze the plant would require a data logging meter that reads specific frequencies at the same time. I am working on leasing such a device since they run over $5000. I was also told that the meters used at my home were probably not set up correctly. Nothing to do with accuracy but set to read the wrong frequency. This is not in my area so I need help. Frank Nosco
10/3: Sam, Last week I (was) forced to drive one of my collector cars while my normal ride was in the shop. When I went to put it up I noticed the finish was no longer smooth so I clay bared the finish to remove the microscopic particles on the finish.
Sunday I swapped car with my wife. The finish on or Infinity was also contaminated. I had just clay bared and waxed it the Sunday before.
There was also a film on the glass of both cars. It seems that the GREC plant scrubbers are not doing what they stated Wednesday evening.
After my experiences with GPD, GREC, GRU & the Gainesville manager is this. You can tell they are lying when their lips are moving.
I am also looking to do a multi frequency noise meter that sample over a 24 hour period.
10/3 From: Samuel Mutch <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Thu, Oct 3, 2013 3:30 pm Subject: Noise Attenuation
Please look at the following about sound attenuation items you can use in your house to cut-down on the outside ambient noise.
See the following:
- offecct.se – acoustical wall panels made of recycled polyester-fiber
- indowwindows.com -thermal inserts for windows which also act to cut noise
- bedbathandbeyond.com – Marpac white noise machine. This information came from the October 2013 of “dwell” magazine.
Samuel A. Mutch, JD, MCP, MPA, AICP
Urban Planner, Climate Change Consultant
SAMUEL A. MUTCH, P.A.
2114 N.W. 40th Terrace, Suite A-1
10/1 Well Folks, GPD & a UG grad student engineer just left my home doing sound measurements.
They were at GREC first. They were told the plant is running at this time full power output.
It looks like the city of Gainesville is your new enemy.
By the way I was told I was the only one who gave them a name & address. – Frank Nosko
10/1: Well the plant just kicked it up a notch. The police officer was told it was 100% this afternoon. I wonder what setting it is on now.
I recommend obtaining the run records for the plant since they obviously are manipulating the noise results.
I hope Russ takes some noise readings. – Frank Nosko
10/1: Exactly right, Carol. They created a loophole for themselves. “Start-up” is NOT the same as “running.” If they’ve “started up” by 8 pm, they ought to be able to “run” through the night. I’m guessing this is their thinking. Are they oblivious to fact that these word machinations will bite them in the rear eventually??! – Jane Hendricks
9/30: To Albert Morales, American Renewables,
I read your email and its getting very deep over here in Turkey Creek. Try the blower & venture air inlets of the furnace for the source. Better yet get a bid from Fagan to take it down since you can’t quiet it down. Cheaper than buying a couple of thousand homes and relocation costs. – FN
9/30: From Albert Morales – American Renewables —
Over this past weekend we heard from a number of Turkey Creek residents and other neighbors of GREC, providing us with information about sound from the facility. I am writing to let you know that we have received your messages, we hear you and are taking steps to understand the sources of the sound and determine what actions we can take to reduce sound from the facility. In case you have not received a copy already, I am attaching a memorandum and supporting materials that we distributed last week. These materials explain what our investigations to date have indicated, what steps we’ve already taken to reduce sound, and what further investigations we are now undertaking.
Hessler Associates, the specialized acoustical consulting and noise control firm that we’ve retained, was onsite at GREC last week, performing sound measurements (at various locations, including at several spots throughout Turkey Creek) and other investigations. They are analyzing the data they’ve collected and we hope to have their results and recommendations before long.
We’re doing all we can to better understand what the sounds are, what’s causing them and what we can do to reduce them.
Chief Financial Officer
Gainesville Renewable Energy Center
9/30: To Mr Blackburn City Manager Gainesville
When are you going to enforce the noise ordinance on GREC. When I reported the noise at 3:30 AM Friday morning the police department treated me as a quack. I was told it was road noise by a lieutenant.
Incident # 092713-0142
As significant taxpayer in the city of Gainesville and a Turkey Creek resident I would like you to do your job.
Noise & pollution doesn’t know property lines or boundaries. – Frank Nosko
9/30: Reply From Russ Blackburn, City Manager Mr. Nosko,
I personally spoke with Chief Tony Jones this weekend regarding noise complaints in the vicinity of GREC. Gainesville Police Department officers responded to six complaints this weekend. In additional a noise measurement certified law enforcement officer responded approximately two weekends ago to noise complaints in the Turkey Creek neighborhood. The information that I have been provided is that the officers did not identify a violation of the noise ordinance. I do not doubt that you were disturbed, but by the time an officer arrives on scene the noise could have stopped. I have directed Chief Jones to conduct random noise measurements this week and to provide the result of the measurements in a memorandum to the Mayor and members of the City Commission. In the event that a violation of the noise ordinance is substantiated the officers will follow the process outlined in the City ordinance.
By copy of this e-mail I am requesting Chief Jones to forward a copy of the City’s random noise measurements outcome to you after the measurements are conducted.
Please be assured that the City will enforce the noise ordinance.
9/29: Incident no.092813-0683 reported Sep 29, 2013 (Sunday) 6:15 am … heard at my house 5:30 am. Drove to the GREC entrance in full view of the belching beast and called into GPD from my cell phone.
From 6:30 – 8:15 am, I drove around every neighborhood in Turkey Creek, confirming for myself it could be heard in Creekside Villas, Dry Creek A, Dry Creek B, Carrington Green, the Park, White Oaks (all the way to the end), Brandy Glen, St. Albans Wood, all of Creek Drive, all of Palmetto Blvd. up to the dead-end where it meets the San Felasco Hammock and the Alachua County Forever property.
The noise sounded like humming, droning, engine-roaring and whistling. Once the sun rose, I spotted at all my various neighborhood stops, fast-moving white clouds of smoke. Numerous times I smelled decomposing vegetation. I also smelled this as I stood at the GREC entrance at 6:15 am.
This impromptu study of mine is especially compelling to all concerned as it occurred from 6:30 – 8:15 am on a Sunday, when there is minimal traffic on 441, which some listeners might pass off as the cause of the noise.
This has got to stop. Thank you for your consideration for the health of all citizens of Alachua County.