March 1, 2006
Noise Free America
For immediate release
Madison: QVC and supervisors in West Hempfield Township, Pennsylvania have won this month’s “Noisy Dozen” award from Noise Free America for allowing oppressive noise levels day and night at a sprawling distribution facility. For neighbors near QVC, the brutal, invasive noise is heard ’round the clock.
Two years ago, retail giant QVC expanded its distribution facility near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. QVC built a 75-foot high addition to its already huge warehouse. They added 18 new docks–for a whopping total of 61. Truck traffic in and out of the facility averages up to 100 trucks a day.
Josie Ditzler, a West Hempfield township resident, notes that “our homes are less than 200 feet away from the trucking facility. It’s a 24/7 operation. There is a great deal of intensified trucking activity between 9:30 and 11:00 at night. Initially, we heard diesel engines, truck-trailer connections, beepers, dumpsters, and loudspeakers. QVC has worked to address the beepers, the dumpster, and the loudspeaker. But we are still left throughout the day with the far more annoying diesel engine roar and the house-shaking bangs of the truck-trailer connections. It’s a noise nightmare.” Ditzler notes that “our only protection is a 14-foot stockade-type fence and a staggered row of maturing evergreens–the equivalent of wearing a paper overcoat in freezing weather. It boggles the mind that local officials did not foresee or do not care how this arrangement could create such heartache and aggravation for this neighborhood.”
In response to QVC’s aggressive noisemaking, West Hempstead citizens sought action from township supervisors—to no avail. Thirty-two area residents signed a petition asking the township to enforce its noise ordinance. Township officials stated that the current noise ordinance was “unenforceable.” In reality, stated Ditzler, “township officials are afraid of chasing away prospective businesses–while also admitting that QVC is the only business that generates ongoing noise complaints.”
Both QVC and West Hempfield officials are dragging their feet on reducing noise levels. QVC has proposed a new noise ordinance and the construction of a 20-foot high sound wall. However, there’s a catch. QVC’s proposal would require that all businesses within the township be subject to the same requirement–regardless of whether neighbors complain about noise. “Obviously,” noted Ditzler, “QVC is attempting to scuttle the noise wall.” Township officials have not approved QVC’s recommended noise ordinance.
In addition, township officials have backed off their support for the noise wall, making the ridiculous claim that “a 20-foot noise wall would be ineffective.” Such a contention demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the physics of noise, said Ditzler. “Township officials claim that ‘noise doesn’t travel in a straight line.’ It sure travels straight into my house.” West Hempfield officials also assert that a noise wall would be an eyesore. “To whom?” stated Ditzler. “I’d rather hurt my eyes with an ugly wall than destroy my mental health from the constant noise.”
Jeanne Dornes, another West Hempstead resident, stated that “the supervisors do not seem to understand the problem. We are not talking about noise from lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and loud mufflers on cars. We are talking about loud bangs and engines running in the middle of the night that wakes people up from their sleep. The constant noise takes a toll on your health. The fence they put up does nothing to block out the noise.”
Ted Rueter, Noise Free America’s director, commented that “the noise situation in West Hempfield illustrates several disturbing patterns: ’round the clock noise, corporate indifference, and unresponsive public officials. It is time for Americans to take the problem of noise seriously. Noise worsens sleep, harms health, lowers property values, and lessens the quality of life. QVC and West Hempstead officials should take strong action to protect the public from the harms of noise.”
Noise Free America is a national citizens group opposed to noise pollution. Past “winners” of the Noisy Dozen award include Echo Manufacturing, Governor Gray Davis, and Flowmaster.