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Geothermal Noise

Present, Potentially Affected

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set federal noise standards with the Noise Control Act (42 USC §4901-4918 et seq. 1972) to:

  • Conduct noise control research
  • Limit industry noise impacts
  • Provide information to the public about noise abatement technology

Environmental Protection Agency-Summary of Noise Control Act

State standards have the ability to be more rigorous than federal standards to account for specific industries in the area. Geothermal projects include specialized equipment to reduce noise impacts and train employees about health risks posed by consistent exposure to excessive noise. Safety training reviews include how to wear personal protective ear wear and how to reduce noise while working.

Noise surveys are conducted before the construction of a project to measure the existing decibels from background noise at the site. This determines how much noise the project can produce and the hours of operation allowed at the project site. An acoustic engineer monitors the sound impacts throughout the project.

Noise Impacts & Mitigation

Mitigate typical noise impacts with the following mitigation measures:

Hours of operation: Each contract and leasing agreement states whether or not 24 hour operation is allowed. In most cases, 7am-7pm incurs the least amount of impacts to community members. If any noise complaints occur, additional professional consulting assesses which mitigation measures to take to reduce noise impacts. All site traffic must comply with the hours of operation and oversized vehicle arrival and departure will be coordinated with the local traffic schedules.

Infrastructure construction:

  • Set up the drill rig in a way to shield the drill rig motor and air compressors from the receptors.
  • Reinforce the drill rig floor and V-door with metal plates and line them with wood or rubber to muffle the noise from the pipes as it rattles against the metal surfaces.
  • Equip pipe connectors with mufflers like air tuggers and winches.
  • Add a check valve on the drill string to enable a slow release of high air pressure. This mitigates the high-pressure air rush noise.
  • During air drilling and well testing, a blooie line and cyclonic separator decrease the noise from steam release.
  • All vehicles will be equipped with mufflers.
  • Vinyl fencing slats or chain link fences with poly-slats will outline the perimeter of the project site to act as noise buffers.