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Front Page » April 8, 2003 » Local News » Independent analysis confirms gas well pumps emit minimal...
Published 4,223 days ago

Independent analysis confirms gas well pumps emit minimal noise


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By RICHARD SHAW
Staff reporter

A written report recently sent to ConocoPhillips about the noise gas wells emit from pumps shows that the devices generate less noise than many sources.

In fact, the results of an independent analysis confirmed that noise emitted by the gas well pumps is generally not audible in local neighborhoods.

The study the report was based on was conducted by Mike Fann of Mike Fann and Associates of Grapevine, Texas, a consultant in noise and vibration.

The study was commissioned by the company because of numerous concerns about the noise the pumps emit raised by the members of the county's planning board, the Carbon Commission and various local citizens.

While there has been concern about the situation in the past, it has become more intense in the last year with gas wells being drilled closer to existing neighborhoods in the area than ever before.

In the past, county government has required that no wells be operated within 700 feet of residences and the restriction has continued.

But even with the county's existing gas well location limitation, some people living near the wells have complained that the sound keeps them awake at night.

Fann attended a county commission meeting in January while he was conducting the study.

At the time, the consultant said he didn't think when he was done with all the measurements and analysis that the wells presented a problem.

"Even at night when the windows are open in homes in the area in question, the worst the noise would be is like a house fly buzzing around the room," stated Fann at the commission meeting.

The final findings appear to substantiate the consultant's claim.

According to the report, gas well operations using progressive cavity pumps or pump jacks are not noisy.

The primary source of noise is the electric pump, which turns at 1,128 rpm and that produces a sound level of 50 dBA (decibels) at 75 feet.

The sound from the devices decreases six dBA with each doubling of distance because the energy spreads over a wider distance.

Fann noted in the report that, at 700 feet, the noise level is only 30 dBA, which is below the ambient noise level registered in most areas in the county.

Ambient noises include background sounds made by the wind, distant traffic and high flying aircraft.

The independent consultant's analysis report points out that the gas well pump operations meet any and all city, county and federal noise levels anywhere in the United States.

The report also indicates that, generally, the noise level of the pumps is often too low to accurately measure without the background sounds contaminating the readings.

For the most part, the preliminary report presented at the January commission meeting and the final written evaluation along with measurements taken on various days by county personnel have put the issue to rest.

Nevertheless, Carbon County still requires gas companies to cover wells with buildings in certain circumstances if the operations are located near residential areas through the conditional use permit process.

Individual gas well drilling sites are reviewed by the members of the county's planning and zoning board.

All proposed gas wells are evaluated for not only noise, but for sight lines and how the operations will blend in with the surrounding environment.

The independent report documents that readings taken Jan. 22 at 710 West and 2935 South shows ambient levels of 40-45 dBA. At the location, the noise emitted by the pump would be only 25 dBA based on the distance from the closest well site.

The readings demonstrate that the gas well pump noise could not be heard above the surrounding sounds in the area, indicated Fann.


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