Best Practical Means of Controlling Noise & Vibration

Noise is a harmful pollutant. The  World Health Organisation have been publishing detailed reports and issuing warnings on the public health consequences for 35yrs. Vibration, closely related to noise, is in itself a health problem, damages infrastructure, and is the root cause of much noise pollution. As products to monitor, mitigate and reduce noise and vibration become increasingly available, we are looking at what they can do, who supplies these solutions and situations in which they really ought to be used.

Solutions or Best Practical Means, BPM

Categories we are interested in:

  • Noise and/or Vibration prevention
  • Noise and/or Vibration monitoring,  logging and data publication
  • Noise/vibration mitigation and insulation
  • Public health monitoring and awareness such as wearable monitoring for blood pressure, pulse, stress.
  • Legislation enactment. Ensuring that the public are actually made aware of the protection afforded by the relevant laws and when these apply.

If You Have a Noise Pollution Solution…

Contact NVAG at nvaguk@gmail.com

Trains Stopped, Abatement Order Withdrawn

The Court Case Result

In Stirling sheriff court, on the 26th of April 2016, it was confirmed that coal freight movements had stopped and would not resume. As a result, Stirling Council withdrew the statutory nuisance abatement order served on DB Shenker and Freightliner in December 2015. There was no longer any need for them to appeal.

Why the Shaking Stopped
The noise and vibration of the coal freight wagons was sufficient to damage the glass canopies in Stirling station, according to a Network Rail spokesperson. image Rail chiefs said this station was being damaged by freight(see news report) . Network Rail managers showed little sign of concern that the physical pollutants that were damaging their own infrastructure were undermining the health and sleep of those living next to the line.

The coal freight came to an end. It might seem, at a glance, like an amicable agreement had been reached, but all is not as it seems.

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DB Shenker, Freightliner-Noise Abatement Update

Rail Noise and Vibration Abatement Case.
The court case, in which DB Shenker and Freightliner have appealed against the noise and vibration abatement order served by Stirling Council, has been moved to the 26th April 2016. Venue: Stirling Sheriff Court.

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Update on Failure to Protect Public.
AECOM, the consultants who advised there was no need to provide mitigation for night noise, continue to refuse to reply to questions (see previous post) about the criteria they used, their version of the World Health Organization night noise guidelines, ethics and Human Rights.

END OF UPDATE
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UK Rail Reaches the End of the Regulatory Line

An Important Day in Railway Legal History
On the 15th of March 2016, in Stirling Sheriff Court, two rail haulage companies, DB Shenker and Freightliner, will be appealing against an abatement order served by Stirling Council.

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Whilst Stirling Council are attempting to protect the health of the general public by stopping noise and vibration at high levels during the night, the freight haulage companies, are expected to argue that UK law and ‘statutory authority’ gives them the right to run their operations (and thus pollute UK residents regardless of impact) without regulation or restriction.

Medical issues comp

The Lack of Responsibility Within UK Rail.

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AECOM face Ethical, Human Rights, Professional Standards Questions

Who are AECOM?

AECOM describes itself as a global provider of professional technical and management support services in markets that include: transportation, facilities, environmental, energy, water and government. With headquarters in Los Angeles, California, United States and clients in more than 150 countries, AECOM reported a revenue of US$8.0 billion for the year ended March 31, 2014.

PERSONS RUNNING THE COMPANY:
John M. Dionisio  chairman and on Board of Directors.
Michael S. Burke- chairman and CEO.
Stephen M. Kadenacy-chief financial officer and president.
Kevin Lynch executive vice president and chief strategy officer
Carla Christofferson– executive vice president and general counsel.

AECOM HAVE BEEN SENT THE FOLLOWING LETTER

CONTEXT
I understand that AECOM has high environmental and ethical standards. However, as with any large corporation, things can, in certain sectors or situations go awry. I trust that AECOM, in keeping with its reputation, seeks to resolve occurrences such as the one outlined here involving as it does: Human Rights, public health, professional standards, ethics.

SUBJECT AREAS
The situation concerns:
•exposure of the public to high levels of noise pollution 
•environment
•public health
•human rights
•presentation of misleading information on health impact of noise pollution
•provision of advice in areas outside AECOM’s expertise
•the ad hoc creation of exposure criteria not approved by any competent health authority
•deviation from AECOM’s own stated role in the project
•advising that non-health based standards that were 30yrs old and that do not appear in the ES should be used rather than the health-based modern standards specified in the Environmental Statement for the project. 
•allocating night noise mitigation based on 30yr old standards that had not been approved in the official process.
•making unsubstantiated and irrational claims- noise of unlimited loudness, if limited to two occurrences per hour, is conducive to undisturbed sleep. 

SECTOR
AECOM provided consultancy services, carried out noise and vibration assessments for the reopened Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine railway, and generated subsequent reports, as required by the Environmental Statement for the development. This included advice on the provision of mitigation and advice on allocating  mitigation in compliance with commitments made in the ES.

The geographical location is Scotland.

EVIDENCE 
Documentation obtained by FOI requests and other measures is held for all of the above.

REQUEST 
I would be pleased if you would provide a contact person who will address this complaint and to advise on your formal complaints process.

RESPONSE FROM AECOM -NIL
So far, AECOM have been contacted five times. They have yet to respond to this letter. The AECOM website contact form was completed twice, they have been emailed, they have been contacted via twitter @AECOM twice. The only response has come via twitter once advising of an email address to use, once saying that an email had been received. No formal acknowledgment or reply has been received for the letter quoted above.

THE FUTURE OF CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY, CSR

If AECOM wants to be recognized as an ethical, sustainable, socially responsible company, then it has to be honest: that means not just publicising accomplishments but acknowledging and tackling it’s failings. We have seen VW’s reputation collapse primarily due to failure of standards. The consequences are massive and may cripple the company. VW are now seeking whistleblowers to expose the extent of the problem. AECOM’s senior personnel, CEOs, president, the board of directors, are ultimately responsible for the standards within their own corporation. As such, they have a key role in rooting out malpractice or failings wherever and whenever such arise. We look forwards to AECOM fully addressing not just the pollution, ethics, human rights, professional standards issue, but the apparent reluctance of personnel at corporate communication level to even acknowledge notification of this problem.

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Council to Act to Protect Residents from Railway Pollution

Following Legal Advice, Stirling Council is to Take Enforcement Action on Rail Noise and Vibration

Stirling Council is to come to the rescue of line side residents who, following the opening of the SAK Railway line in 2008, have been left with broken promises and high levels of noise and vibration.
A report commissioned by the Council in late 2014 found that night time noise levels outside resident’s homes constituted a statutory nuisance and that vibration levels at some properties was excessive. Network Rail and the freight operators have continued to run heavy night freight despite pleas, complaints and even written requests from the Scottish Parliament in attempts find a solution.

Stirling Council to act over noise and vibration from Railway

Stirling King Street, NetworkRail line, DB Shenker freight

Now, thanks to the support of elected politicians, there is hope that enforcement orders will protect the health and well being of those affected by these forms of railway pollution.

Protecting the Heart of Scotland

Stirling, due to its central position and strong transport connections, is considered by many to be ‘the heart of Scotland’

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Stirling Council Press Release on Enforcement Action Against Railway Noise and Vibration

Press Release issued  by Danny Gibson Environment Convener, Stirling Council

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For immediate release

Stirling Council officers are now taking further action to implement the instruction from Council that there is to be further engagement with and enforcement action against Network Rail and freight operators who use the Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine (SAK) railway line.  The Council instructed this action in response to long-running concerns about disruption raised by local residents.

The notice which will be served relates to the noise and vibration caused particularly by freight trains using it during night time hours.

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Noise Pollution Manifesto

MANIFESTO DRAFT
by Noise Vibration Action Group
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1 It is a fundamental human right of individuals, communities, cities and nations that they be able to live without the blight of noise pollution.

2 Noise pollution must be controlled to levels that:
•Do not harm health
•That allow normal functioning, well being and development
•That allow adequate duration and quality of sleep (8 hrs adult , 10-12 hrs children)

3 The ‘polluter pays principle’ should be upheld at all times, ie those responsible for creating or who benefit from the process that generates the pollution should bear the cost of taking measures to address it.

4 The ‘precautionary principle’ should be upheld, ie where there is reason to believe that noise or vibration might be harmful, the onus is on those who generate such emissions to prove, with independent verification, that the levels are not harmful or detrimental to health, well-being or sleep.

5 The public should be made aware of the risks from noise pollution through public health bodies and health and well being media outlets.

6 Medical professionals and environmental regulators should be educated on the risks, symptoms and illnesses that result from noise pollution and of the exposure levels at which these occur.

7 Bodies responsible for environmental standards
or quality of life should act in an effective and timeous manner to ensure these are achieved.

8 Inadequate resources such as insufficient staffing, funding or legislative powers may result in an organization or individual being unable to fulfill their role in regulating or addressing issues of noise pollution or vibration. Where this is the case, all persons responsible must formally notify pertinent senior persons or bodies, including the government and health organizations, of their inability to act effectively and the consequences for the affected population.

9 Legal action must be taken wherever possible against individuals or organizations whose actions or failure to act (such as neglect of duty to monitor or regulate), result in the emission of noise pollution that is prejudicial to health, undermine well-being or breach human rights.

10 Vested interests such as persons whose activities, membership, employment are related to the generation of noise pollution should not have any representation on committees, boards or advisory groups whose role is to maintain health, protect the environment or represent the interests of the community who may be subjected to the noise pollution.

11 Impartiality of data and advice or other expertise is essential. This necessitates that consultants or experts who act in the interests of clients who produce noise pollution are not at any point employed in the regulation or assessment of noise pollution, or the development of standards or policies.¹

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

Why this manifesto?Noise pollution has a highly negative impact on humans and other organisms and causes significant harm to the natural and social environment. Those against it are asked to distribute this manifesto and, wherever possible, to raise awareness, take action or make representation to reduce or eliminate this pollution both for themselves and for others

Definition: Noise pollution is any noise or vibration, audible or inaudible (eg infra sound) , that is introduced by artificial means into the environment that causes harm, discomfort, .

Background: Noise pollution is widespread and increasing and is being generated in the name of ‘progress’ and to serve commercial priorities. The impact includes heart disease, high blood pressure, tinnitus, stress-related illnesses, developmental problems in children and, through sleep deprivation, lower immunity, obesity, inflammation of joints, aggression, deterioration in judgement, coordination and reaction time, inability to memorize, increased susceptibility to accidents. Advised limits, including exposure-dose response relationships have been documented in World Health Organization publications in 1995, 1999, 2005, 2009, 2011. These are based on peer-reviewed studies and give increasingly adamant warnings of the need for controlling this pollution.

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BBC Reports on Freight Train Misery

BBC Reports on UK Rail Problem

BBC Scotland has reported on the issue of the SAK railway line and the six year problem of getting a decent night’s sleep. Broadcast on BBC’s evening news on the 12th Feb 2015, it includes footage of DB Shenker (DB Bahn) freight, accounts of the experience of lineside residents, actions being taken by the Council, statements from Network Rail shots along the line, a line whose mitigation was advised by global Consultants AECOM. Link to news item: Freight . . . by Day and by Night

http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-31428051

Network Rail was quoted as saying:

Parameters

However, typical noise levels at bedroom windows based on the official 2009 Noise Assessment were

80dBlamax

This is 20dB higher and four times louder than the 60dB night noise maximum advised by the World Health Organization.

Network Rail’s CEO, Mark Carne, is invited to respond to three questions later in this post. In a further post we intend to ask the global consultants AECOM about their involvement in the non-allocation of night noise mitigation.

Network Rail also stated in the BBC news item that:

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