By: Benjamin J. Gohs, Associate Editor
Wood pellet fuel maker Kirtland Products has taken several steps to stifle the noise coming from its manufacturing facility in Boyne’s Air Industrial Park.
Complaints of smokestack emissions and noise began shortly after the company started its operation in November 2011.
“We would like to thank you and the members of city government for working with us to address the excessive noise problem emanating from our facility into the neighboring community,” wrote Kirtland CEO Leon Tupper to Boyne City Manager Michael Cain in a letter circulated on Monday Jan. 9.
Kirtland held a press conference at 1 p.m. On Monday Jan. 9, to showcase the efforts it has made toward hushing its operation.
“The information provided by our neighbors has been helpful in identifying possible equipment sources,” Tupper wrote. “During the past weeks we have discussed the condition with our equipment manufacturers in pursuit of solutions.”
According to Tupper, as a result of the feedback from Kirtland’s neighbors, input from its equipment suppliers and engineers, they have developed a noise abatement plan.
On Dec. 12, 2011, Kirtland replaced the bearings on the raw material leveling screw. This resulted in a noise frequency reduction, though it did not eliminate the sound completely.
Tupper said additional solutions are being investigated.
On Dec. 17, 2011, Kirtland investigated possible equipment sources of the objectionable noise with some of the business’ neighbors.
While Kirtland officials seek solutions to the apparent noise issue, the company has reduced its operations from two to one shift as of Dec. 19.
Planned noise abatement actions for the month of January include:
“We want to be clear that, while we cannot predict the decibel level reduction of the affected pieces of equipment, we do expect a noticeable reduction,” Tupper stated.
In addition to complaints about the noise, Kirtland has also heard concerns about the plumes rising from its exhaust stacks.
Tupper said it is steam generated from the drying process of the wood and not smoke which rises from the stacks.
“Tons of water must be removed from green wood every hour before it is transformed into wood pellets,” Tupper said. “Depending upon the air temperature and humidity, this water will condense into a bright, white plume as soon as it escapes the process.”
He added, “This spectacular plume can be seen from a distance, depending on the observer’s elevation.”
Tupper said there are no health risks associated with the steam.
“Kirtland Products designed the emission system to prevent health risks to the environment and community,” he said. “Leading environmental research firms modeled Kirtland Products’ projected emission plume in detail, ensuring that no federal and state limits, which are based on the latest environmental health standards, would be exceeded.”
Tupper said anyone looking for more information about Kirtland should call (231) 582-4470.