January 1, 2002
Noise Free America
For immediate release
Madison: Noise Free America has awarded its January Noisy Dozen award to Richmond, Virginia, for tolerating and encouraging extreme levels of noise. Ted Rueter, the group’s director, commented that “Richmond has an epidemic of boom cars, loud exhaust systems, and loud pipes. It’s the headquarters of Circuit City. NASCAR races are everywhere. It’s a miracle that anyone in Richmond gets any sleep.”
Mark Huber, a longtime Richmond resident, notes that “my home is shaken every day. I can actually feel the pounding bass vibrations from car stereos with my entire body and I feel the floor vibrating under my feet. The sound pressure from this noise actually causes pain to my ears. Trying to appreciate a lovely sound in Richmond is like gazing upon the Shenandoah Valley while a high-intensity lamp is shining directly into your eyes.”
Rueter notes that “Richmond officials have turned a deaf era to the hazards of noise pollution.” Virgil Hazelett, Henrico County’s manager, professes to be “aware” of concern over noise pollution, yet he states that “we must be mindful of the rights and privileges of all our citizens and our ability to enforce the law.” A county magistrate told Mr. Huber that he “might as well forget it– NASCAR has too much influence in the Virginia courts.” The Richmond police pay lip service to the issue, and avoid investigating noise-related crimes. The Henrico County Health Department has no program to combat noise-related hearing loss.
According to Rueter, the Commonwealth of Virginia is one of few states to have no code governing noise pollution: “Even the state’s Department of Environmental Quality does not address noise pollution–in spite of the fact that it’s charged with protecting the health and well-being of Virginians. Noise contributes to hearing loss, sleep deprivation, heart disease, and high blood pressure–and Virginia officials don’t seem to care!”
Mark Huber states that “government agencies in Richmond, Henrico County, and Virginia are in an absolute state of denial. Noise is a huge quality of life issue. Noise levels in Richmond are becoming unbearable. It’s time for action.”
For its short-sighted, uninformed, and myopic attitude toward the hazards of noise, Noise Free America is proud to name Richmond, Virginia a “Noise Paradise.”
Noise Free America is a national citizens group dedicated to reducing noise pollution. Its web site is http://www.noisefree.org.