Case Studies

Alberta Newsprint Company

Alberta Newsprint Pulp and Paper Noise Control

Location: Whitecourt, Alberta, Canada
Owner/Operator: Alberta Newsprint Company

Alberta Newsprint Company (ANC) is the province of Alberta’s first and only paper mill. ANC produces high quality newsprint at its operations located northwest of Edmonton, most of which is sold to buyers in the United States and Asia.

The ANC paper mill is an integrated facility utilizing a thermo-mechanical pulping (TMP) process supplemented by a de-inking plant to produce newsprint. The TMP plant and paper mill produces 747 metric tonnes of paper per day.

Workplace Noise Measurements and Assessment

HGC Engineering was retained by the company to assess apparent elevated sound levels and to look for ways to enhance speech intelligibility in several areas of the manufacturing facility. The spaces that were acoustically targeted included the main control room; the dry end control room and neighbouring lab; as well as the winder and slitter shacks.

HGC Engineering team members visited the facility to measure sound levels in the areas of concern and in the surrounding manufacturing areas. The plant was operating at a steady state during the measurements, although measurements were focused around time periods where the winder was audibly operating at high speed.

Specialized measurement methods were employed to assist with determining sound levels emanating from specific components within the spaces in order to create a rank ordered list of contributors to the sound within each designated area. Sound intensity measurement techniques were employed in this regard.

Criteria for Workplace Noise

The risk of occupational hearing damage is assessed in terms of the “energy-equivalent” sound level to which a worker is exposed over the duration of a work day. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Code, Regulation 87/2009, Part 16 (218), the Province of Alberta has established that “an employer must ensure that a worker’s exposure to noise does not exceed 85 dBA”, averaged over an 8-hour shift. Sound levels exceeding 85 dBA may necessitate engineered noise controls or mandatory use of hearing protection (or both).

Although sound levels in the targeted areas were found to be within the Province’s workplace noise limits, there was still a desire by the company to try to attain clear communication and speech intelligibility. Finding ways to limit external and internal noise sources within these spaces would help to achieve their desired acoustical goals.  Based on sound level targets published by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) a background sound level not exceeding 50 dBA is considered appropriate for these spaces, where appreciable speech and telephone communication are common.

The acoustical measurements obtained, were utilized to develop a rank ordered list of sound transmission paths through the building components, in order to determine noise control options. Recommendations for noise control where applicable were then provided to limit sound transmission via these paths.


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