Puerto Rico Senate seeks to ban electric generator noise at night
SAN JUAN – Senate Bill 172, filed by Ponce District Sen. Nelson Cruz Santiago, seeks to establish that the Noise Control and Regulation Act of Puerto Rico prohibit the level of noise made by a electric generators when exceeding 90 decibels at night.
The senator, who previously worked with the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, specified that the reduced-noise period contemplated would be from 10:01 p.m. until 6:59 a.m. the following day. The generators’ noise, which is considered pollution under the law, does not have a minimum distance established, but would now be regulated by zone and banned periods.
In addition, he said the legislation includes exceptions to operate a generator via an exemption request from the Environmental Quality Board for health reasons or technical needs. Also, the measure lists 14 other noises that would be prohibited.
He explained that violations to the statute would be penalized with a $250 fine for the first infraction, and $50 each subsequent day the law is broken, up to a maximum of $500.
If the fine is not paid within 30 days, said violation will result in a misdemeanor charge, punishable by a fine of no more than $1,000, imprisonment for a term not exceeding 90 days, or both, at discretion of the court.
The legislator said that if this law is implemented, three agencies would be in charge: the EQB, the DNER and the Public Security Department. Allowed sound levels would be determined per established residential, commercial, industrial and tranquility zones.
The measure establishes that the president of the EQB must establish an Advisory Council for religious matters to advise on public environmental policy that affects the constitutional right to worship. The exception is made because the law would include prohibitions on the use of amplifiers, bells, external loudspeakers, and fixed or portable megaphones that exceed the maximum noise levels during the established quiet period.
The DRNA Ranger Corps, state and municipal police officers, Ports Authority security personnel, Treasury agents, Special Investigations Bureau agents, Public Service Commission inspectors and members of the National Guard will be tasked with ensuring compliance with the law by issuing fines.
The measure specifies that 40% of funds collected from fines will be used by the EQB to acquire noise control equipment and the other 60% by the DNER to purchase of safety equipment.
Agents may use Type 1 sound meters for precise field measurements or Type 2 general-purpose readings with American National Standards Institute (ANSI) specifications.