Mary E. Arata
DEVENS — Though it seems that the noise compliance issues between Evergreen Solar and the town of Harvard have come to an end at home, the story has carried all the way to the shore of Hawaii, where an acoustics expert says he could have fixed the problem easily.
Clark Dodge, president of Argosy Acoustics Inc., and CED Consulting out of Kapaa, recently e-mailed Nashoba Publishing wondering what all the noise was about over at Evergreen Solar’s facility on Barnum Road in Devens.
In recent months, the solar panel manufacturer had run afoul of Devens’ industrial zoning regulations with noises that had upset neighboring Harvard residents for the past several months. The good news on that front is that the solution is fast approaching, with several remediation efforts paying off and yielding compliant sound readings from monitoring spots both on and off the plant’s site. Evergreen CEO Richard Feldt has committed to a fix, or else agree to plant shut downs in the event of periods of protracted non-compliance.
Dodge e-mailed after stumbling across Harvard Hillside coverage of the issue over recent months. “I have been watching the events at Evergreen Solar and wonder what is going on,” he wrote. “This plant should be so quiet that the neighborhood would never know they are there.” He said he’d reached out to company officials but heard no word back. The company has already hired a noise consultant who’s helped hammer out the company’s present remediation plan.
Dodge recounted details of his last project, quieting noise created by the powerful engines aboard a 470-foot vessel. “The control room was so quiet you could not hear the 16,000 horsepower engines on the other side of the bulkhead. The passenger spaces and crews quarters were the same. You would not know you left the dock unless you were looking outside.”
Dodge says his partner, Jack Starbird, found Evergreen’s Web site and this newspaper’s articles. “We feel this should not be in today’s world. We felt that our products and systems can solve this.” He went on to ask for more specific information, accurately recapping the real-world problems that locals here faced when trying to tamp-down the plant’s noise, “Noise is noise but it is also frequency and vibration and many times it is not the noise but the frequency that is so disturbing.”
When advised that the Harvard Board of Selectmen helped broker a deal last week, adopted by the Devens Enterprise Commission, to quiet the din. “I was also a City Councilman in Washington (State), so I know the problems of working with the public-private sector,” he wrote.
When e-mailed that the plant has recently attained compliance on several fronts and total compliance is likely imminent, Dodge said that he’s happy to help out with East Coast issues. For the Web surfer, you can check him out at www.cedconsulting.com while bugs are worked out of his primary acoustical Web site, www.argosyacoustics.com.
Sending it right back at you, on the eastern shore of the northern-most island in the Hawaiian chain, “Mahalo nui loa” (Thanks very much).