Bam! Bam! Hummmm! Ding!

By Kathleen Reilly. Published March 5, 2014 in the Star-Tribune, Chatham, Virginia. Posted by permission of the author.

To the editor,

I moved to Chatham from the Washington, D.C., area in 2006, purchasing a small, one-story home on Whittle Street.

From the start, I loved the neighborhood and my neighbors except for Columbia Forest Products, which, unfortunately, is only about a mile away from me on Route 57.

At first, the noise from this factory was minimal, causing occasional problems that could be justified by considering the jobs that were being provided for the county.

As a matter of fact, I did not even notice any noise when I first came here.

Little by little, however, over eight years, the noise has gotten progressively louder and longer duration so that now some piece of machinery is running all the time.

Today is Sunday, the second of March. Columbia has just started up again — on Sunday.

It is bad enough that we, the residents of Whittle Street, Astin Place, Rison Street, Ridge Street and other residential areas have to hear the constant, and I mean 24 hours a day, noise from Monday until late on Saturday, but now Sunday is just another day.

Let me explain what I mean by noise. We hear bam, bam, bam, clunk. Then it is a constant noise like a clothes dryer that never stops, just lessens a little bit in intensity.

Then hummmmmmmm for hours. Once in a while, we hear ding, ding, ding, I guess as a safety measure for somebody.

On top of this there is the stink of whatever it is they are burning. We also get to hear the roar of diesel trucks driving up to the factory.

The only thing that drowns out this barrage is the freight train.

I worked in a 24-hour a day seven-day a week industry, the postal service. We always had mechanized processing, but never did our machines run without stop.

At the very least, they had to be stopped for maintenance; these Columbia machines seemingly never stop for anybody to clean them or oil them or anything.

Not even a refrigerator runs constantly; even it stops.

When do we, those of us in the surrounding areas, get a break? We all pay our city, county, state and federal taxes. We all either work now or have worked in the past.

Why can't this noisy, smelly factory consider their neighbors and at least put in some baffling or something to lessen the negative impact on the surrounding area?

I did not anticipate that I would be living in an industrial zone or have my home be turned into a wrong-side-of-the-tracks neighborhood by this jack-legged factory.

Kathleen Reilly

This website is sponsored by Mitchells Publications, Chatham, Virginia.