NRC Community Update | Spring 2012

May 17, 2012

Noise and Odour Mitigation Efforts and Expenditures, By Andrew Norgaard, NRC

Over the past two and half years, NRC has spent  $3.8M to assess, develop and implement technical solutions to reduce noise and odour emissions.

The most recent

projects on this front have been:

  • An overhaul of the air intake system at the M10 Altitude Facility to reduce noise - complete
  • Building an enclosure (sound barrier) around the M11 Roof Top Chiller - complete
  • Sound-proofing the M10F Stack - ongoing
  • Assessing the effectiveness of the M10F silencer to identify improvements- ongoing
  • M10 Thermal Oxidizer Design and Installation - ongoing

NRC continues to monitor wind direction and noise levels and factor these elements into operational decisions. Our start/stop operation protocols around wind direction are now being refined to increase our effectiveness on this front.

I think this protocol went a long way to reducing disturbances last summer. While by no means perfect, I believe we’re headed in the right direction. While NRC remains bound by some existing contractual obligations in terms of our operations, we have been sensitizing clients to the odour and noise issues and they have responded positively by adjusting their testing protocols, hours of operation, and other activities to reduce disturbances.

All new contracts include restrictions/conditions on when testing can occur. NRC’s monitoring of noise levels along the Blair Road corridor uses a series of five noise monitoring stations that operate 24/7.  

Noise levels for our test cell #1 operation at M-10F have come down significantly after the mitigation measures were put in place in 2009-10. However, noise levels are somewhat higher than where we would like them to be with the recently commissioned test cell #2. We are taking a close look at this (M10F project noted above) to identify a solution for implementation in our 2012-13 fiscal year.

In the interim, we are trying to minimize disruptions by adhering to weekday, daytime operations only. For several weeks in January, there was a distinct increase in odour disturbances noted by neighbours (we appreciate continuing, real-time feedback, which helps us adjust our operations). These disturbances were sourced to an older engine used for testing in our M-46 wind tunnel. This testing is now over and the facility is being converted over to electric power for the next round of activity.

In the coming fiscal year, NRC will be looking at long term solutions for this facility such as switching to natural gas as a power source, or replacing the existing engine with new technology. In the short term, when the facility is up and running again, operations will adhere to the start/stop operation protocols around wind direction.

Synthetic Fuels Facility (SFF) Status

NRC is currently in the construction phase of the SFF, with the completion of the trailer docking facility scheduled for the end of March 2013. When operational, NRC expects to be using the facility an average of 10 days per year, with no projected overall increase in testing operations as a result of the new facility since it will be linked to existing test cells.

Environmental Assessment

With respect to the Environmental Assessment (EA) of the SFF, not much has changed since the EA was completed and posted on the community website in 2010.  The EA report outlines the mitigation measures that NRC is implementing during the construction and operation phase of the project. The EA report also identifies follow-up and monitoring through the life of the project.  Specifically, NRC committed to (and has subsequently acted on):

  • developing a public engagement process to identify concerns related to air quality and noise issues;
  • develop a short-term and long-term Action Plan to address complaints related to noise and air emissions; and
  • review noise and air point source emissions for potential mitigation.

Other Issues

Snow clearing – NRC has directed our snow removal/clearing contractor to avoid nighttime snow clearing activities along the north-east side of the campus to reduce noise disturbances.

If you have questions about any NRC activities or about noise or odours that are disruptive now, contact NRC directly at   If you have an urgent request, call NRC’s hotline (7am to 11 pm) at 1-888-814-9936.


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