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Directive sur le bruit ambiant : limitation des nuisances sonores du port d’Anvers

We already published an article about a large-scale study into noise pollution.Based on some of these studies, a noise action plan (2019-2023) was drawn up for the Antwerp conurbation, in accordance with the European Environmental Noise Directive (END 2002/49/EC). In this article we take a closer look at what this action plan actually entails, and what it means for industrial operators around Antwerp, and specifically industrial sites around the port.

How big is the area covered by the Port of Antwerp?

The conurbation of Antwerp includes the territory of the City of Antwerp, with an area of 204.38 km². It comprises the following districts: 

  • Antwerp city centre;
  • Berchem;
  • Borgerhout;
  • Deurne;
  • Ekeren;
  • Hoboken;
  • Merksem;
  • Wilrijk;
  • Berendrecht-Zandvliet-Lillo. 

The port area partly overlaps with this conurbation. Not surprising, since the Port of Antwerp is the second largest in Europe. 

What is the purpose of this noise action plan? 

Specifically, the aim is to reduce environmental noise in the Antwerp port area and improve the sound quality. The measures that will be taken are based on four main pillars: 

  • Environmental noise policy: the City seeks to amass knowledge about the concept of ‘environmental noise’ in order to base a targeted policy on it;
  • Quiet sources: the idea is to try to tackle the root cause of problems as much as possible, by working proactively, for example, to avoid having to take additional measures afterwards;
  • Protecting and improving the noise climate in existing situations: the City wants to eliminate as many ‘noise bottlenecks’ (where noise pollution is excessive) as possible;
  • Safeguarding the noise climate in new situations and urban development projects: specific noise measures and requirements must be taken into account from the start of new projects. 

Which sectors cause environmental noise?

The most common sources of noise pollution in and around the Port of Antwerp are:

  • Traffic;
  • Logistics;
  • Industrial activities.

Industry in and around the Port of Antwerp can cause a lot of noise pollution. We map out the industry specifically linked with port operations and offer the right solutions to curb noise pollution.

Industry in the Port of Antwerp

The Port of Antwerp is the largest integrated (petro)chemical cluster in Europe. It houses the world’s biggest chemical companies in the world which form a diverse and integrated whole. In addition to cargo handling and logistics, the port also provides storage, handling and distribution facilities for: oil, (petro)chemical products and gases.

Understandably, there are also many noise sources in the petrochemical sector that can cause nuisance: 

  • Industrial exhausts;
  • Flues;
  • Ventilation systems;
  • Motors and machinery;
  • Cooling units;
  • Condensers and roof units;
  • Loading and unloading areas.

It is therefore essential to map these noise sources and then find a suitable acoustic solution

Standard for environmental noise in industry: VLAREM

Normally, industrial operations within the port adhere to the VLAREM II regulation of the Government of Flanders regarding environmental licensing, which imposes the following noise limits outdoors:

  • In daytime, from 7am to 7pm: 50dB(A)
  • In the evening, from 7pm to 10 pm: 45dB(A)
  • At night, from 10 pm to 7 am: 40db(A).

There should be even less noise pollution indoors. In this respect, the noise limits are as follows:

  • In daytime, from 7am to 7pm: 36dB(A);
  • In the evening, from 7pm to 10 pm: 31dB(A);
  • At night, from 10 pm to 7 am: 31db(A).

Sound attenuation is therefore provided not only to reduce environmental noise, but also to guarantee the safety and comfort of your employees.

However, in the context of the noise action plan, additional measures may need to be taken on top of VLAREM II requirements to contain the environmental noise. 

Additional guidelines for environmental noise in the Port of Antwerp

The City wants to ensure that no new homes or noise-sensitive buildings are granted a building permit close to the port’s industrial facilities. Improved communication is also part of the plan to ensure that local residents are better informed about planned operations likely to cause nuisance. On top of that, additional measures may also be taken to reduce noise nuisance as much as possible: 

  • For example, special conditions may be added to the environmental permit;
  • When granting the environmental permit, the proximity of homes, schools and other noise-sensitive buildings will be considered;
  • It also works the other way around: granting building permits for schools and homes may be subject to additional conditions;
  • Complaints about noise pollution are handled monitored thoroughly by the relevant authorities;
  • There must be clear consultation channels between all the stakeholders: authorities, local residents and representatives of the port and (petrochemical) industry.

Proactive implementation of industrial acoustic solutions

Implementing acoustic solutions as early as possible is crucial. Only by being proactive can a possible noise remediation plan be avoided. This approach will save time and money. DOX Noise Control is the perfect partner to implement acoustic solutions. Here are some examples:

  • Ventilation grilles for ventilation ducts with an outdoor outlet or for air-conditioning systems;
  • Housings that dampen noise from engines or generators or other units.
  • Soundproofing panels in loading and unloading zones or around heavy machinery. Silencers (viz. sound dampers) that can be used just about anywhere in an industrial setting, and therefore also for flues and exhausts. Blow-off dampers, for example.

With the help of an acoustics consultancy firm you can easily map out all the problem areas. DOX Acoustics will provide the right solutions. 

Ready to get rid of industrial noise pollution? Feel free to contact us! We will be happy to work with you towards a suitable solution, fully tailored to your company’s requirements and wishes.

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