By Sue Ellen Woodcock
Officials from Wheelabrator visited the City Council Monday night to share answers as to why the trash to energy plant in Saugus had such an loud sound coming from it in November. A sound that traveled to the Point of Pines area and beyond in Revere.
Peter Kendrigan, general manager of the Saugus plant, pointed to a mechanical failure with the boilers and the silencer in the steam stack.
On Nov. 9 people in the Point of Pines area “heard a horrendous noise and called the plant and were told they could not turn off the facility,” Powers said.
Wheelabrator officials had said the noise was caused when “a silencer failed that muffles steam being vented from the energy-from-waste facility’s two boilers during planned maintenance.”
Kendrigan said it takes several hours to shut down the plant. He said they had planned maintenance on November 23 and notified the local newspapers. He also later offered tours of the plant to anyone interested.
“I sincerely apologize. We took it down (the boiler) as quickly as possible,” Kendrigan said. “There’s nothing more I can say except that we had a mechanical breakdown.”
Powers said he received a telephone call from a resident at 9 p.m. inquiring about the noise.
“The noise was so loud it could be heard all the way to Revere Street,” said Powers.
Wheelabrator had said “the facility’s staff shut down one boiler Wednesday night (Nov. 9) to reduce the noise and shutdown the second boiler Thursday morning to eliminate the noise completely. The silencer was repaired over the weekend of Nov. 11-13. More work was expected on Nov. 21 and Kendrigan said a crew from the equipment company was coming in this week to work on repairs. He noted that during the shutdown time waste trucks were diverted to another facility at Wheelabrator’s expense.
Monday night State Rep. RoseLee Vincent said the “ungodly noise” during the past month resulted in hundreds of telephone calls from people seeking relief from the noise.
Several Point of Pine residents brought in recordings of the sound, which resembled a constant jet engine. One of the recordings was taken at 4:30 in the morning.
“Our pleas fell on deaf ears,” Vincent said, outlining the number of people living in the area of the plant. She said 26,000 people live within two miles of the plant, 3,000 live within a mile and 600 live within half a mile. “It’s a 40-year-old incinerator with an ashfill that would never be allowed today.”
“This went on for three days of torture,” said Ward 3 Councillor Arthur Guinasso. “We want you to be good neighbors. Show a little remorse, invite the residents of the Pines to a gathering.”
“From a PR standpoint this was handled poorly,” said Councillor Steve Morabito.
“If you lived with this facility next to you you would not endure this.”
Councillor Anthony Zambuto said there was a lot of misinformation and having a waste to energy plant is the best form of energy.
Pines resident Elle Baker said it’s not just the noise from the plant. She pointed to two ash spills that have happened this year.
Another Pines resident Libby Costanza said she used ear plugs to drown out the noise. She had a recording of the noise too and she can be heard on it saying, “it’s killing everybody’s ears. God knows what they’re burning there.”
“It’s unfortunate to have to be on guard,” said Costanza.
One woman asked if any decibel readings had been done during the problem.
Kendrigan said no, they shut down the boilers. He added that he was going to hold the manufacturer accountable.
“I know I’m the bad guy here,” he said. The council sent the issue to its Public Safety Committee “before anything is put to bed,” said Council President Jessica Giannino.