A much anticipated noise and air quality report conducted by environmental engineers following quality of life issues raised by nearby residents against Sims Metal Management has been completed. However, more time is needed to review the findings.
At a show cause hearing held during Monday’s Johnston Town Council meeting, a status update was provided by Chris Duhamel, a principal at DiPrete Engineering, and Jeff Sotek, professional engineer of Wood Environmental, who worked together to compile the report.
In response to explosions, environmental concerns, odors, noise levels, property damage and other issues by residents, the Town Council imposed restrictions on the recycling operations of Sims Metal Management in January.
At that time, the council mandated that there be no more explosions from the facility; that no cars are shredded before 9 a.m. or after 4 p.m.; that air quality and acoustical engineers be hired at the company’s expense to monitor the situation and that the company must abide by the engineers findings. Sims representatives have appeared before the council several times since that January meeting to provide status updates of the work they’ve completed.
According to Duhamel, a traffic report was submitted to the town’s building official last week. The draft report monitored air quality and noise within the study area of abutting neighborhoods around the Sims facility. The study was done to determine what effect could be found from the operation of the Sims facility and what effect it would have on residents.
Two monitors were placed at the Sims site to monitor air quality and noise. Two neighborhood areas located to the east of Route 295 closest to Sims were also monitored, located at 18 Macera Farm Road and 7 Alvina Drive. Monitors collected data on regular intervals over 24-hour periods.
Noise monitors measured decibels detected in the area, while air monitors measured levels of nitrogen dioxide, sulfuric dioxide and volatile organic compounds. In the report presented to the down, raw data from April 4 to May 7 of all locations was compiled and submitted representing the hour in which the data was collected, whether the data exceeded allowable levels according to town zoning.
“The draft analysis also had some evaluation of the data and conclusions that were raised, and it also raised a number of questions given the nature of the data and how it was actually compiled,” said Duhamel, as data was collected during hours outside of Sims operation. “I’d also like the indulgence of the council to have more time to analyze this report because it is somewhat complicated given the data collected.”
Councilman Richard DelFino III then questioned Duhamel, asking, “Are you prepared tonight to discuss the findings and the final facts for the council, or is there additional analysis that has to be done on your part before the final product is read?”
Duhamel said he would like additional analysis of the data, while presenting a preliminary overview of the initial findings. He then stated that monitors at the Sims site showed no notable measurements of the compounds or substances mentioned earlier during operating hours. However, in the residential areas there were measurements of those compounds on a regular basis, indicating that traffic from Route 295 may be the cause.
Sound analysis found several occasions where noise levels exceeded town requirements; however, they were for short durations lasting a few seconds, according to Sotek, possibly from banging metal or if something large was dropped. Possible loud signs were also attributed to the highway and associated bridges.
Duhamel also stated that he wanted to research other potential sources besides Sims for any unusual monitor readings.
“There’s quite a bit of additional work that I would say is warranted in order to definitively state what are the problems in this area and possibly what are the mitigating measures we can take,” said Duhamel.
Resident Steven Parrillo, who lives on Macera Farm Road, asked if Sims could improve upon the timeframe for the installation of the southeast sound barrier. Based upon recommendations provided from the recent studies, and should the studies warrant such improvements, Ken Marandola of Sims’ public relations said any such work would be completed before the end of 2018.
DelFino wanted to have a final report presented to the council by the August meeting, saying he’d like to bring this to a conclusion. Duhamel asked if it was possible if a special meeting could be convened as he would be out of state at the time. Sims representative also asked for a reasonable time to prepare, and a consensus was reached that a final report could be provided by that time.