Noise levels around Birzebbuga while Malta Freeport operations were underway were generally high all year round, a survey commissioned by the freeport itself has found.

The survey was held between February 2014 and January last year. It was conducted by Adi Associates Environmental Consultants. The survey measured noise levels at five monitoring locations.

The report was tabled in parliament by Competitiveness Minister Manuel Mallia following a question by Labour MP Anthony Agious Decelis.

"The survey identified that noise levels with the Malta Freeport Terminal (MFT) in operation were generally high at all of the monitoring locations over the 12 months of the survey, both during the day and at night, relative to the WHO guideline values for day time and night time noise," the survey found.

Although the high noise levels were not always attributable to activity at the freeport, freeport noise was audible to the assessors during most of the survey and, even when masked by noise arising from other sources, the noise arising from the freeport was likely to have influenced the noise levels recorded.

The average day time noise levels recorded over the 12 months at all five monitoring locations when the freeport was in operation ranged from 59 - 68 dBA LAeq(1 hr). All the day time noise levels recorded when the MFT was in operation exceeded the WHO day time outdoor guideline value of 55 dBA LAeq. The survey identified Triq San Patrizju as generally the noisiest location during the day time; however, noise levels at Triq il-Gandoffla, Dawret il-Qalb Imqaddsa and Triq il-Qajjenza were all higher than at Triq San Patrizju on occasion. St Peter’s Parish Church parvis was generally the quietest day time location.

The average night time noise levels at all five monitoring locations when the MFT was in operation ranged from 33 - 64 dBA LAeq(15 12 min). All of the average night time noise levels recorded at Triq San Patrizju, Dawret il-Qalb Imqaddsa and Triq il-Qajjenza, and the majority of those recorded at Triq il-Gandoffla and St Peter’s Parish Church, exceeded the WHO 2000 night outdoor guideline value of 45 dBA LAeq. 

The consultants noted extraordinary events which increased noise, including an outdoor training exercise between November 2014 and January 2015 and dredging works between February to May.

The consultants made the following short-term recommendations to reduce noise:

Ensuring that all existing alarms are set at the minimum sound level, while meeting relevant international safety requirements and legislation;

Ensuring that all existing alarms are fit for purpose - primarily by ensuring that the correct alarm is employed and that the sound is appropriately directional for each warning situation;

Enforcing current operating procedures to ensure that crane operators engage /
disengage containers with greater precision;

Optimising the use of the Terminal Operation System (TOS) features and add-ons (for example, GPS positioning of Tug Masters) to minimise Tug Master travel distances between the container storage areas and the quays;

Enforcing current operating procedures to ensure that Tug Master drivers park in the demarcated area on the quayside when loading / unloading containers (to facilitate the better precision of the crane operator in engaging / landing the container);

Enforcing operating procedures to ensure that crane powerhouse doors are kept closed;

Resurfacing of the traffic routes within the freeport, particularly of those closest to Birżebbuġa on Terminal 1, to ensure a smoother driving surface (including replacing areas with cobbled blocks and repairing degraded, uneven surfaced areas), and regularly monitoring the routes to retain a smooth surface;

Enforcing the current speed limit along the traffic routes with the freeport (30 km/hr);

Adhering to the preventative maintenance programme for cranes, to ensure maximum precision in the handling of containers;

Focusing on noise attenuation during the maintenance of Tug Masters and other
mobile heavy equipment in the MFT fleet;

Continued emphasis on ‘noise sensitivity’ in training delivered to the equipment
operators, with training focussed on operational practices to reduce the rough handling of equipment;

Reviewing operating procedures with haulier companies, to restrict the sounding of horns by drivers when queuing to enter the MFT in particular, as well as when within the MFT and when moving to / from the site;

Consulting with Transport Malta (TM), in respect of ship refuelling activities, so as to restrict the sounding of ship horns;

Consulting with TM to ensure that the surface of the main access road to the MFT
(South Road) is maintained in a good condition, to ensure a smoother driving surface.

See the report in full on pdf below.

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