RESIDENTS living near cranes at Dublin Port have been given a boost after an independent study supported claims that noise in the area could be damaging to their health.
Neighbours in Pigeon House Road have been complaining for years about constant deafening late-night noise from cranes close to their homes.
They claim one elderly woman was forced to leave her house, another's hearing deteriorated significantly, children endured sleepless nights and some were racking up medical bills with stress.
The terminal, controlled by Marine Terminals Ltd (MTL), has three gantry cranes that load and unload container vessels.
Now a report by researchers Enda Murphy and Eoin King from UCD's School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Policy has found the cranes produced noise above night-time guidelines set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
It noted that the WHO had recently acknowledged that noise is a growing problem, responsible for sleep disturbance, tinnitus, annoyance and even heart disease.
The report found there was a "significant environmental and public health concern" for residents in the immediate vicinity of the port.
The WHO guideline for night-noise is 40 decibels, but that was "consistently exceeded" in the area and was intermittent, causing potentially greater shock to the sleep patterns of residents in 11 houses at the Coastguard Station.
"This demonstrates convincingly that night-time handling activity at the port has a detrimental and significant impact on the local sound environment," the report said.
"Moreover, the night-time activity appears to be characterised by little or no attempt to mitigate the noise."
The study noted that three gantries were built by MTL without planning permission in 2002.
However, no enforcement proceedings were brought against the company prior to the seven-year period for enforcement under planning law expiring.
A spokesperson for the residents declined to comment, citing an on-going legal action in the High Court.