Case Studies

Imperial Oil Research Centre / St Claire River Tunnel

Location: Sarnia, Ontario, Canada
Architect: Tillmann Ruth Mosellin (now Tillmann Ruth Robinson)
Project EngineersHastings & Aziz (for Imperial Oil), Hatch Mott MacDonald (for CN)
Owner/Operator:  Imperial Oil

Imperial Oil Limited is Canada’s largest petroleum company. The company is engaged in the exploration, production and sale of crude oil and natural gas. Their Sarnia Research Centre is a world-class facility focused on supporting customers, developing and improving petroleum products and providing new technologies to improve environmental performance.

HGC Engineering was contracted by Imperial Oil to assess the vibration and noise impact on Imperial Oil’s Research Centre by the construction and post construction operation of a major upgrade to the 100-year old tunnel under the St Clair River between Sarnia, Ontario in Canada and Port Huron, Michigan.

The St. Clair River Railroad Tunnel is the world’s largest underwater rail tunnel and is a strategic rail freight route between Montreal, Toronto and Chicago. CN Rail upgraded its infrastructure in the tunnel to accommodate double stack container trains and taller rail cars with the construction of a new tunnel lying adjacent to the existing one. This engineering endeavour was one of the largest construction projects in North America during the 1990s.

HGC Engineering was responsible for vibration monitoring during construction and post project, and was tasked with monitoring hundreds of rail passby events to determine the impact of ground-borne vibration on the research centre’s structure. The results of our analysis determined that a vibration isolation system would be required for sensitive equipment in the research facility.

Furthermore, a new conference room would be required, featuring a “room within a room” design, that would have the area fully isolated from the research centre’s structure, mitigating the effects of ground-borne noise and vibration from the tunnel’s rail activity. Since the project’s completion, we continue to perform annual monitoring assessments to ensure long-term abatement effectiveness of the acoustically engineered systems put in place.


Acoustical Engineering Services Included:

  • Environmental Noise and Vibration Study
  • Vibration Monitoring During Construction
  • Ground-Borne Vibration Analysis
  • Vibration Isolation of a Room
  • Acoustical Privacy Between Offices, Meeting Rooms
  • Structural Vibration Assessment
  • Occupant Noise/Vibration Complaint Forensics





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