Crews this week completed installation of a massive muffler designed to absorb noise-causing vibrations from one of the stacks at the Exshaw cement plant.
Joel Taguchi, Community Affairs Manager for the Lafarge plant at Exshaw, said installation of the 21-foot-tall muffler or silencer on the Kiln 5 gravel bed filter stack was completed Monday (Jan. 16), taking advantage of a break in the wind that had delayed the work for a few days.
The 14,500-lb silencer, a cylinder lined with noise-reducing insulation, was installed on that stack in particular as Lafarge’s noise consultants identified it as a priority for mitigation due to its being a large contributor to the plant’s overall noise.
Taguchi said the silencer, designed by Delburn, AB-based Noise Solutions, which also produces equipment for NASA, is part of a $700,000 noise-reduction project that began in 2009 and also includes work this week to install 13 silencer modules on three large roof vents.
“They used the same theories and scientific approach they use in providing equipment to NASA. Noise mitigation is not rocket science, but it is a complicated science,” Taguchi said, adding the plant will begin testing noise levels once Kiln 5 is brought back on-line after being down for routine maintenance.
Those results will be compared to pre-installation readings in regard to overall reduction of noise.
Installation of the silencers, while initially planned a few years ago, was moved up following two community forums held last year in October and November, Taguchi said.
“What we are seeing here is the completion of equipment and projects envisioned a couple of years ago,” he said. “It became apparent we needed to get these in place as soon as reasonably possible and that’s what was done.”
As part of the outcome of those two forums, Lafarge also moved up implementation of its planned Community Liason Committee (CLC).
Taguchi said the company had intended to form the committee before work to expand and modernize the cement plant began. However, following concerns and issues raised by both plant employees and Exshaw residents at the forums, Lafarge moved to form the CLC in November.
“We sped up the committee in light of the feedback we received last fall. The original vision was to start the committee to provide a forum for engagement during modernization,” he said.
“One of the central themes of the open houses was the desire for better information exchange. We’ve always been committed to providing information as a good neighbour and we took the opportunity to redouble our efforts in that objective.”
The CLC has eight public members and three of the plant’s senior management staff: Taguchi, environmental co-ordinator Brad Watson and plant manager Heinz Knopfel.
The committee, which had its first meeting on Dec. 15, will meet monthly.
And while the first meeting was largely an organizational meeting, Taguchi said they were still able to begin the work of discussing community concerns.
The main concerns, Taguchi said, are the timelines and timing for long-term improvements, timely and effective responses from the community and mitigation of negative effects.
As part of that, the plant has established a 24-hour community hotline – 403-673-5220 – for concerns and complaints.
“We want to continue to be responsive and work with our community members in a productive and effective way. Both Lafarge and our neighbours desire improvements and we look forward to continue working together.”