By Jessica Jones For the Independent
It isn’t a loud noise, and not something he’s heard for the 17 years he’s lived on his acreage three miles north of Nevis, but the nagging and vexing humming sound, much like a train in the distance which reportedly peaks at night, is plaguing Tim Miller.
He is amongst the four per cent of people who say they can hear a mysterious droning noise or low frequency noise (LFN), dubbed The World Hum — a phenomena of widespread reports of a persistent and invasive low-frequency humming.
In Canada, the most well-known, unexplained noise is the ‘Windsor Hum,’ which some residents of the southwestern Ontario city reported hearing. It was concluded, following federal government research, that the noise was emanating from somewhere near Zug Island, Michigan.
But Miller, 56, a former pipeline inspector, thinks he’s nailed down the culprit to the ‘Nevis Hum,’ alleging that it’s coming from a natural gas compressor about a mile south of his home.
“For the 17 years I have lived here, I have never been bothered by it, but about the third week of December (2018) they moved the compressor and that’s when it started,” he said.
Miller has been so aggravated and concerned about the humming noise that he contacted his local MLA, Nate Horner, Alberta Health Services, and the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), which sent an inspector to take noise readings.
“It’s a grating noise. There should be some effort to find out where it is coming from,” Miller said, who has been sleepless for eight months over this.
In an effort to gain clarity on the situation, Horner instructed his constituency assistant, James Klassen, to visit Miller’s acreage. Klassen says they are working with the ministries for a solution but wouldn’t confirm hearing the low-frequency humming.
“It’s a complex situation,” Klassen said.
The AER, Alberta’s regulator responsible for oil, oil sands, natural gas, and coal resources, confirmed taking noise readings and sending an inspector to review the situation. In an email to Miller they reported not finding an “audible presence” from nearby oil and gas operations.
The AER looks to noise complaints under “Directive 038: Noise Control,” which does take into consideration low frequency noise. The directive stated that “dominant low frequency creates a great deal of annoyance.”
“A-weighted sound pressure level (dBA) should be made in the noise modelling of new facilities or facility modifications or expansions to minimize the potential for LFN concerns,” the directive stated.
As for Miller, he feels like he’s been left in the lurch and wants people and regulators to take him “seriously.”
“Stop pretending this isn’t happening,” he said, suggesting that oil and gas companies, as well as the AER look to Noise Solutions — a company located in Calgary that engineers industrial noise suppression for the energy sector.
“People are affected by this stupid, pulsating noise but nobody wants to admit that we have a problem.”