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Bitcoin mining is a noise pollution menace across the US

We know all about the ecological toll of Bitcoin mining, but a lesser talked about issue is just how damn noisy its industrial processes are. Residents at Niagara Falls claim it’s ruining their quality of life.

The US border town of Niagara Falls was once among the most tranquil and serene regions in America, but many residents state it is no longer an idyllic place to live.

The soft crashing of the famous waterfall has been drowned out by the relentless hum of giant server fans since 2019. Allured by cheap hydroelectric power, cryptocurrency mining firms Blockfusion and Bitcoin have moved in and set up shop on an industrial scale.

Across the US in general, mining plants continue to sprout up following China’s uncompromising ban on the practice last year. Now far and away the leading territory for crypto, the US has filled the void to keep blockchain empires afloat.

We’ve written countless times about how energy intensive blockchain technologies are, with estimates stating that mining a single Bitcoin uses the same amount as the average US household over 50 days. We hear far less, however, about the ridiculous measures taken to keep all this gear cool and ticking over.

Literally thousands of industrial-grade fans whir ceaselessly to prevent blockchain supercomputers from overheating, and the result is a seriously intrusive level of noise which impacts surrounding residents and wildlife.

The area of Niagara is home to over 300 bird species, 53 mammals, and 36 species of reptiles, and there’s no telling how growing noise pollution may be impacting the natural order of habitation, mating, and hunting cycles.

An anonymous local who lives more than 1.5km from the nearest Bitcoin plant likens the processing noise to a 747 jet. The once audible running of Niagara Falls 3km from his garden is now just a distant memory.

Faced with constant complaints – mainly regarding US Bitcoin – the mayor of Niagara Falls announced an embargo on any new mining activity in December 2021, and then brought a noise limit of 50 decibels within residential areas into effect for 2022.

‘The noise pollution of this industry is like nothing else that has been there,’ said Robert Restaino, who ordered the closure of two crypto farms last month until they’re able to comply with local limits.

For context, the average Bitcoin mining machine produces between 70 and 90 decibels as a by-product, which explains why grievances continue flooding in for City Hall officials nationwide. Not all of these instances are easily resolved, either, with noise pollution regulated at local level by states and ignored by federal governments.

In the rare instances that crypto companies attempt to proactively stifle their own noise, further building permissions are difficult to attain. In Niagara, for instance, one facility had planned to erect a ‘noise abatement wall’ but the idea was rejected.

At some stage, this burgeoning issue will come to a fever pitch – but in the present, the US crypto boom isn’t going anywhere.

 

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