Thump Thump, Throbb Throbb The
residents surrounding the Paarlcoldset printing press off of William
Moffett continue to struggle to get their views taken seriously and the
management of the facility to do something about the low level
throbbing noise emanating from this facility.

But, a trickle becomes a river the old people tell me. The latest in
the saga:

Stop The Noise received a response from the local
dated 22 July 2009. Stop The Noise say
that there are some key
misconceptions outlined in this document and are of the opinion that
there concerns are
being deliberately trivialised. Stop The Noise say that; “The NMMM
Environmental Services
department is not being advised correctly and impartially as to the
reality of the situation as experienced by residents”.
On September 3, the Stop The Noise committee met with the
newly-elected Councillor Retief Odendaal of Ward
6 in order to provide more background to the
current problem. It was resolved that Cllr Odendaal would be contacted
by residents in the coming weeks to come out one evening to witness
personally the throbbing sound emanating from the press building. This
will help clarify the exact nature of the problem i.e. noise nuisance
vs noise disturbance.
Stop The Noise say; “The stance from the municipality is unacceptable –
ratepayers are being
kept awake at night by an annoying industrial sound for hours on end.
We continue to ask what are local authorities going to
do about it?  What are Paarlcoldset, the ‘new’
owners,  going to do to fix this since acquiring Media24’s
printing assets in 2008?”

The Stop The Noise counter to the NMMM’s response can be found in
the letter to Ward 6 Councillor Retief Odendaal,
dated 11 Aug 2009, below:

Dear Councillor Odendaal

We wish to bring to your attention the ongoing noise nuisance problem
of the Paarlcoldset printing factory along the William Moffett
Expressway. We kindly ask for you assistance in the matter.

We are approaching you because our committee’s discussion, firstly with
the printing company and now with NMMM Environmental Services, has not
borne fruit. Attached is our last response from the NMMM (see facsimile from NMMM) dated 22 July
2009. From the outset, we do believe that the NMMM Environmental
Services does have the interest of it’s citizens at heart but it’s
currently being impartially advised and misled as to the reality of the
situation. At the heart of this problem, is the annoying throbbing
sound emanating from the printing factory at night which impairs the
sleep of residents. This is a fact. We have been experiencing this
awful sound for many many years.

We need a voice in the municipality that will deliver our side of the
story to head of the NMMM Environmental Services department. We are
getting the distinct impression, that for some reason, our concerns are
being deliberately trivialized and swept under the carpet. Joannie
Black, the municipal officer involved in the 2005/6 noise nuisance
investigation, had compassion for our cause prior to the ineffective
10db noise reduction exercise of 2006. Since then, she has been proved
most uncooperative to our plight. We do know that the NMMM is being
advised by Mr Danny Liebenberg, who was the acoustic consultant from
Johannesburg used jointly by both the municipality and Media24
(printing company) back in 2006. He continues to advise the
municipality to this day in favour of his former client, as was
observed at a 19th May meeting at your offices. This constitutes a
conflict of interest. How can this be allowed? The municipality is not
being advised impartially in this matter. Surely, if a sound continues
to deprive people of their sleep, then the NMMM is obliged to
re-investigate? We wish to counter the NMMM’s correspondence of 22
July. We’ll keep our points as brief as possible.

Point 1: The
correspondence states under point 2 that the noise in 2005 is “hardly
audible”. This is not true. It is clearly and distinctly audible during
the early hours of the morning when traffic has died down completely.
Please come to our homes one night and hear for yourself. Incidentally,
Paarlcoldset’s General Manager, Riaan Jansen Van Rensburg, witnessed
and confirmed the sound at a resident’s home on the evening of 6th May

Point 2: The
correspondence under point 2 states that the sound is now at an
“acceptable level”. We have mentioned repeatedly that the sound level
of the noise has never been the issue. The sound level is fine and
doesn’t require a further reduction. It is the annoying and irritating
component of the noise, a “throb throb” effect, that is deemed by
residents to impair their sleep. Quite true, the sound emanating from
the printing facility is not loud as such. We quote from the Cape Town
Municipality website, which dispels the myth about only loud sound
being annoying: “a dripping tap or the dull “thump thump” of amplified
music can cause extreme stress ” (“Myths about Noise“). This is a key

Point 3: The
correspondence mentions a “ground-borne vibration” as being part of the
problem. This is pure conjecture. No scientific study has ever been
conducted at our home to prove the “ground borne” angle. It is simply
an excuse fed to the NMMM in order to avoid doing something about the
noise problem. When the easterly wind blows, the printing press noise
(from the factory located to the west) which normally bothers us is not
present and not audible whatsoever. How can it be ground-borne then?

Point 4: The
correspondence states that “Die Burger” has done all that is
“reasonable practical”. Companies will always consider money spent on
non-profit projects as “unreasonable”. Is it reasonable to expect
residents to have their sleep robbed for so many hours a week by an
annoying industrial machine noise? No human being should have to live
like this. To do nothing more, is to put the well-being of industry
above the well-being of the people. Why should the 1 million rand spent
in 2006 give the printing company immunity from being re-investigated.
It’s still a problem just like it has been for 10 years and just like
it will be for the next decade if nothing is done. Also, consider the
future development of the suburb of Fairview.

Point 5: The
municipality often refers to this problem is a “town-planning” error.
This is a lazy excuse. The building currently housing the printing
press is essentially a cheap metal shed, just meant to keep out the
wind and rain. The vibrations from the printing machine cause the
building’s foundation and structure to shake, acting as a “loudspeaker”
of sorts. This would never have been a sound problem had the building
been designed with acoustic insulation in mind in the first place. Now,
the structure and foundation would have to be retrofitted to solve the

In conclusion

We live here and assure you that sleep disruption is not a pleasant
thing to endure. We residents are best suited to judge the effects of
this sound since we have the misfortune of sampling it throughout the
year, whereas a municipal official or an acoustic engineer is here one
day and gone the next. We will not rest until this problem has been
given the attention it deserves. We have already received exposure via Port
Elizabeth’s largest community site, MyPE
and will spare no
effort in reaching our goal of targeting larger audiences. There are
solutions to this problem but there is no will-power from the
municipality to exert any pressure, and as a result, their is nothing
to motivate the printing company to do more. A grave injustice is being
done to residents.

More info can be found on our website, Stop
The Noise
, including a list of complaint letters. We would
ultimately wish for a municipal official to come to our homes during
the early hours of the morning to listen to the sound we have to endure.

May we suggest a meeting at your offices to present our case further.
Our deepest thanks, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Kind Regards

Stop the Noise.

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