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Noise from Dublin Port terminal "exceeds WHO levels"

A new study by two researchers says that the noise from the container terminal exceeds night-time guidelines.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

A NEW STUDY says that noise levels at part of the Dublin port near a residential area exceeds guidelines set by the World Health Organisation.

The study, undertaken by Enda Murphy from UCD’s school of geography, planning and environmental policy, and Eoin King of Hartford University in the US, is published in the latest edition of Environment International.

Murphy told TheJournal.ie that they undertook the survey independently as a result of reading reports about potentially excessive noise in the area.

“I’ve been doing research on noise for the last seven years or more – that’s one of my key research areas,” said Murphy.

The terminal on Pigeon House Road that they studied is operated by Marine Terminals Ltd (MTL).

The MTL facility is directly across from an area where 11 residents have their homes. A number of residents of Pigeon House Road are involved in a High Court case over noise levels at the terminal.

Noise levels

Murphy said that when you factor in the fact there is a low frequency component, the noise at the terminal “exceeds WHO guidelines by 11db”, going from 40 to 51db. While in normal parlance this would represent a 25 per cent difference, it is in fact a 100 per cent increase, doubling sound pressure levels.

This is “twice as loud as what the WHO guideline limits suggest”, he said. There is also intermittent noise at night time, as containers operate some nights in the early hours.

The researchers’ analysis was primarily concerned with the night-time period, between the hours of 11pm and 7am.

They state in their study:

As a result of night-time handling activity, the WHO guideline night-time noise limits (40 dB(A)) are consistently exceeded in the area with the noise being intermittent in nature and thus providing for potentially greater shocks to residents’ sleep patterns.

Murphy and King “came to the conclusion there is a problem down there”, said Murphy, adding that they believe the noise levels are an issue.

They said:

our results suggest that mitigation measures either through restriction/cessation of operational activity during night-time hours or some other measure(s) should be instituted as a priority not only in this area but more generally wherever port handling activity is operating adjacent to residential neighbourhoods.

They also said that there is “a substantial tendency to low frequency noise during port handling activity”, which is “worrying” as research suggests that low frequency noise is a greater health risk than noise at other frequencies.

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Murphy said that fixing the issue “shouldn’t be a major headache”, and that “having port activity and protecting citizens is not mutually exclusive”. They would like to see better regulation on the working of ports, he added.

Paul Murphy MEP has worked with residents on the issue. He said he is awaiting an answer to his question to the European Commission of 12 November 2013 on the noise levels at that terminal in relation to the environmental noise directive.

He called for the government to bring pressure on MTL and Dublin Port to stop work at night time, or through discussion with the residents find an appropriate means to significantly reduce the noise levels.

Dublin City Council

Dublin City Council (DCC) said that studies in many EU cities have indicated that WHO guideline ambient noise levels are regularly exceeded, which “is consistent with Dublin City Council’s own noise mapping study” which show that these guidelines are exceeded at many locations throughout the city.

Furthermore, the High Court has found that it was not reasonable to expect adherence to these guideline limits for a specific noise source when it accepted that ambient noise levels were already in excess of that level throughout the Dublin area. Dublin City Council therefore uses other methodologies for assessing noise nuisance. Our findings, based on these methodologies, did not indicate that legal proceedings were merited.

DCC said it cannot elaborate further due to the fact the case involving the port and noise levels is currently before the High Court for hearing.

Read: Gorgeous tilt shift rooftop view of Dublin Port>

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