It's hard to imagine
that one person could hold up the expansion plans of a $3
billion corporation. But that's exactly what happened to the
Tennessee Gas division of Tenneco.
Pipeline's mainline compressor station 254 is in the small
town of Nassau, New York, located just south of Albany. The
station houses five 1400 horsepower compressors. These compressors
make it possible for natural gas to flow to thousands of homes
throughout New York and New England.
Because of the
noise they generated, the compressors were causing serious
problems for Tennessee Gas with their next door neighbor and
subsequently Nassau's town fathers.
254 sits on a 40 acre lot and is bordered on one side by a
private residence. The homeowner's complaints to the local
government and press created an adverse public relations climate
for Tennessee Gas. With major expansion planned and the taste
of bad press growing more sour every day, Tennessee Gas decided
to investigate the noise problem and figure out what could
be done to remedy the situation.
showed that compressor station 254 was generating sound levels
up to 60 dB(A) at the boundary line. Further testing revealed
that the dominant noise sources were low frequency, which
are always more difficult to attenuate than high frequency
To comply with
local and state ordinances and clear the way for future expansion,
Tennessee Gas set out to find a company which could reduce
the noise level at the property line from 60 dB(A) to 50 dB(A)
by treating the building, rather than individual compressors.
was that employees must have unrestricted access to the compressors
and clear visibility throughout the building.
and quickly dismissing a foam product because of its expense
and inability to meet the Class 1 fire rating, Tennessee Gas
entertained and ultimately accepted the recommendation offered
by United Process of Agawam, Massachusetts.
engineers from Sound Seal, a division of United Process, recommended
lining the walls and ceiling with a sound absorption/barrier
composite. The composite, made up of quilted fiberglass and
a 1 lb./sq.ft. barrier, would do double duty for Tennessee
Gas by absorbing airborne sound waves and increasing the transmission
loss ability of the building. Leaks at the seams of the panels
would be prevented by using a velcro attached noise barrier
batten. After testing and the development of a new time and
money-saving installation technique, United Process began
manufacturing over 50 different sizes and configurations of
the composite panel. More than 800 panels were made to line
the interior of the 40' wide x 179' long x 28' high building.
testing showed that the United Process solution performed
better than the promised results.
The noise level
at the property line was reduced from 60dB(A) to 45dB(A).
5dB(A) lower than what was specified. And while noise levels
within the building were not as critical, Tennessee Gas officials
were pleased the employees could now hold a conversation without
In addition, Tennessee
Gas found that the light colored fabric facing used by United
Process dramatically improved the lighting inside the building.
quickly expressed their pleasure with the decrease in noise.
And the neighbor who shares the property line called Tennessee
Gas Pipeline officials to thank them. He even said he would
alert the local media to encourage a positive article on the
Gas Pipeline officials are confident they will not hear a
lot of noise from the local government when they move ahead
with expansion plans.