Mystery noise keeps residents awake

February 9, 2009 6:07:41 PM PST
A high-pitched, annoying sound is making some people in Brazoria County angry. They say it's so bad, they can't sleep at night. The noise is coming from the Air Liquide plant in Oyster Creek. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

The sound is constant. Area residents say at the least, it's annoying. At the worst, the high pitched hum keeps them awake at night. Folks in Oyster Creek have been unable to escape the sound since November.

"When they're running full force out there you can't hardly stay in my backyard," said resident Richard Blake.

He adds that the noise irritates his dog, Max.

"He howls and comes in the house. He won't hardly go out in the backyard," Blake explained.

Air Liquide says the sound is coming from a new air separation unit at their facility, which came online late last year.

"It's just an irritation," said Jim Overly, owner of the Oyster Creek RV Ranch. "It's a constant irritation because it runs 24 hours a day."

Overly says the noise is driving away his clients, who like to be closer to nature.

He said, "The longer it lasts, the more I'd say it's going to cost me business-wise."

Air Liquide says it has hired experts to figure out exactly what's causing the noise and to help form solutions that might squelch it.

Plant manager Dave Ickerman said, "Air Liquide takes our responsibility to our plant neighbors seriously and will do what is necessary to learn more about the noise situation and address it."

Folks listening to the sound day and night find their patience wavering.

"It takes time. I understand that," Overly said. "But we want it to go away."

City officials did decibel testing throughout the city and they said at the plant, the sound violated both city and state maximum allowable noise levels. It tested at 89.9 decibels, and the maximum allowed is 85.

Air Liquide is supposed to release its findings and a list of possible solutions at the next Oyster Creek city council meeting on March 5.

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