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MALTA -- Last month, GlobalFoundries met the four-month deadline it had set to install baffles to muffle generator noise at its Malta chip plant and stop the noise from bothering the plant's residential neighbors.

But the project largely failed, a company official admitted at a meeting with residents Tuesday. A handful of homeowners in a neighborhood northeast of the plant told Mike Russo, the company's director of governmental affairs, that the round-the-clock hum still keeps them awake at night.

One woman said she recently slept in a closet so she could get some relief from the sound. Another homeowner said she is reluctantly looking to sell her house.

"The noise has impacted the quality of life for us residents. This has been a regular occurrence since June," Kelley O'Rourke said.

Supervisor Paul Sausville told Russo he had "lost confidence" in the company's commitment to fixing the problem and raised the possibility of using the town's code enforcement to penalize the company for noise violations.

"I am extremely, personally disappointed that the solution you put in place, that you said would work, didn't work," he said.

Russo said the baffles installed to absorb the noise appear to be effective at times, but not always. He said the company's next step is to address noise that comes out of the roof of the building, where nine spinning flywheels are housed. He said the process could take several months.

The generators, which have been going since June, must run around the clock to supply immediate backup power in case of a failure, Russo said. More generators could be installed in the future. While they produce little noise on-site, Russo said, the sound they create funnels uphill to the residential neighborhood.

The company set a 16-week timeline in late August for putting in the baffles, following numerous noise complaints.

Shortly afterward, Malta hired The Chazen Companies, a Troy engineering firm, to measure the noise. The company measured the sound between 42 and 51 decibels at various periods in September and October from a backyard on Featherfoil Way, according to Chazen's report.

The 51-decibel reading, taken at about 10 p.m., exceeds the 45-decibel maximum allowed at night in the Luther Forest Technology Park.

Russo said the noise is almost always within the allowed limits, but he said GlobalFoundries is interested in going a step further.

"We're trying to be the best neighbor we can be," he said.

Residents said the volume of the noise can vary sharply over short distances. While some said it had improved since the installation of the baffles, others said it had not.

Judie Van Avery said she and her husband are preparing to sell the home on Meadow Rue Place they've owned for 20 years because of the noise.

"This is where my children spent every Christmas. This is where my son learned to walk in the front yard," she said. "I love my house. But I can't live like this anymore."

 

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