Data centre noise causing headaches for neighbours in Labrador City
Company says location is temporary, doing 'everything possible' to address concerns
A new Labrador City business with big fans and a high voltage substation is making lots of noise and it's not sitting well with its neighbours.
Great North Data says its data centre is in a testing phase, the noise is only temporary and it's doing everything possible to address concerns.
"It's just very inconvenient that they put it right in the middle of the town," said resident Ryan Barron, who bought his house, just behind one end of the data centre, last year.
The building is classified as a "telecommunications centre," and is considered commercial but it butts up against several homes.
"You look out the window here and it looks pretty industrial in my eyes, said Barron.
"You have a massive transformer next to the building, or a substation that's going to be operating, so in my eyes you'd think an industrial park would be an ideal place for this."
Lynn Foster lives just across from some large fans working at one end of the building.
She said she usually sleeps with her window open at night, "to smell the fresh air," but hasn't been able to since the noise began a few weeks ago. She's started wearing earplugs to bed.
"It's affecting my health and my mental well-being at this point."
Foster said representatives of Great North Data have been to her house to ask about her concerns and put some insulation in. While that did "slightly muffle" the sound, she still feels it's a bad spot for the business.
"I think it has to stop, I think a mistake was made."
In a letter to residents, the town said it recognizes the sound is "intrusive and needs to be addressed."
It is purchasing equipment to monitor the sound levels coming out of the building and will work towards setting targets for ambient noise which the company will have to meet.
"In the meantime, we do not plan to take immediate action that will require Great North Data to stop testing their equipment," the letter reads,
"We will allow them a reasonable timetable to complete scheduled improvements."
"We have real sympathy for our neighbours. We apologize," James Goodwin, founder of Great North Data told the CBC,
"The issues that we're having are unanticipated but are all fixable."
A "noise baffling" wall is being put up around the building to redirect the sound "up and away from the residents ... back towards the commercial side of the building," Goodwin said.
The fans will eventually run silently, he said, once bugs are ironed out.
"We're getting a resonance in the building. It's actually quieter for us to turn the fans up slightly than to run them at the intended level. That issue is back with the engineers," Goodwin said,
Sound-insulation siding will also be installed on the sides of the building, a job that was delayed by a short construction season.
Once the work is done, "this is going to be a silent building," Goodwin said. "We won't stop these efforts until everything has been addressed."
Goodwin said the company had no real choice when it came to location.
"The utility [Nalcor] wasn't really prepared to hook up a new data centre unless it was going to fit with their current existing high voltage grid," Goodwin said.
"Why they have a high voltage line running through a residential neighbourhood would be a better question for the utility."
The location is temporary, with plans to move in a couple of years.
"Long term, this is just going to be a repair facility for all the data centres that are going to be in Lab West," Goodwin said.
"We're already in the design phase of doing a facility that is 10 times bigger. It's going to be in a more appropriate location ... all of the equipment will just move to that site."