Residents steamed about new Ravenswood turbine

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Since January two steam valves on the 250-megawatt extension have been regularly wailing "as if a jet landed on your house. It's like a roaring blasting noise," said Roseanne Porrazzo, who lives nearby on 9th Street.

"We've been tortured by it," she said. "I believe it started a few months ago, sometime in January - just constant blasting. It would start and it would blast for maybe three or four hours. And some days it would blast for seven hours. It's so loud it's unbearable."

Keyspan is working to muffle the valves, which let off steam as the Vernon Boulevard plant powers on during tests, said Andrea Staub, company spokeswoman. One valve faces 9th Street in Ravenswood, she said, the other Roosevelt Island.

Within one month, Staub said the company plans to redirect the steam vents skyward and fit each one with a mechanical "silencer," a device engineers are designing specifically for this plant. She could not describe the silencers in detail, saying that none of Keyspan's other five major plants on Long Island employ the device.

"What we're really trying to do is mitigate as much of the noise nuisance in the community," she said.

The facility should go completely on-line within two weeks, Staub said, after which testing should stop and the wailing should cease.

Keyspan inaugurated the $350 million Ravenswood Power Plant extension on March 29, heralding the natural gas-powered facility as the cleanest and most efficient in New York City. The turbine uses a combined cycle generator, which captures and recycles heat from the primary generator, said company spokesman Tim Carrol.

The extension, which will help the Ravenswood plant provide nearly 30 percent of the city's power when it goes fully online, expels less nitrogen and carbon dioxide than standard electrical generators, said Katherine Kennedy, a lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group.

But that new technology means little to Porrazzo.

"They told us it was going to be clean, they told us it was going to be better, and it's turned out to be a nightmare," she said.

She said the whistles infringe on everyday life. Windows stay closed, even in nice weather. Barbecues are impossible, and children have to cut short softball games in nearby Spirit Park because the noise drowns out their calls, she said.

Porrazzo has organized a petition signed by 20 neighbors asking Keyspan to fix the noise. She plans to submit it to the Long Island City-based green advocate Coalition Helping Organize a Kleaner Environment, or CHOKE, which has been lobbying Keyspan on behalf of angry neighbors, said Anthony Gigantiello, the organization's president.

He has fielded about a dozen residents' complaints and spoken extensively with Keyspan officials, who have promised to remedy the problem within a month. The company has also started telling CHOKE and area residents in advance when it plans to run tests, Gigantiello said.

Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Updated 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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