Suncor Energy


INNOVA was asked to complete an Occupational Health & Safety equipment noise emission study for a 200,000 barrel/day Oil Sands Upgrader at the Suncor Voyageur Project in Fort McMurray, Alberta.


This project examined occupational health and safety noise exposure from a plant noise emissions perspective. The Suncor Voyageur Upgrader project involved a vast array of mechanical, piping and electrical – some of which in “standard” configuration, emit noise levels beyond the exposure limits of the Alberta Occupational Health & Safety code. INNOVA was requested to complete the plant noise study in parallel with the detailed engineering phase of the project, so that any necessary equipment noise control measures could be integrated into the equipment procurement phase, and therefore avoid costly noise control retrofit work on site, in the post-commissioning phase. 


  • Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Code, 2003 - Part 16
  • Directive 038: 85dBA at 3 feet from the equipment and 83dBA where equipment density demanded


Out of a total of approximately 2,500 noise sources, 700 were found to be significant contributors to the plant noise environment.

Typical plant noise sources on this project included:

  • Multi-stage centrifugal pumps
  • Reciprocating and centrifugal compressors

Engine combustion noise

  • Large electric motors – TEFC, WPII, TEWAC, TEAAC
  • Steam turbines
  • Ejectors
  • Pressure relief valves
  • Force-draft heat exchangers
  • Cooling towers


Through a combination of on-site acoustic measurement, in-depth background research and face-to-face consultation with client representatives, the INNOVA study determined source noise levels for each individual piece of equipment. The sources noise data were entered into a comprehensive computer-based noise model which predicted the noise level throughout the personnel access areas of the operating plant. The model was then used to identify noise sources contributing to unacceptable noise exposure. INNOVA also provided various noise control options to the Client before making final recommendations in a formal report.


The project was divided into 5 main process areas, each being managed by a separate EPC company. The noise study required not only direct interface with the principal client, Suncor Energy, but also with each EPC. Ensuring that information was exchanged in an accurate and consistent manner across all interfaces was the biggest challenge. To overcome this challenge, INNOVA led the documentation of the noise control requirements and kept in regular contact with key engineering personnel, including direct liaison with equipment vendors whenever necessary.

The equipment for this project had been procured from all over the globe. Communicating the intent of the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Code to all parties involved in equipment procurement, wherever they resided, was an essential component in ensuring a sustained focus on implementing engineering noise control measures as the first step in the overall noise management program.


The site was extremely complex to model as a result of a high equipment density and multiple personnel access elevations in most plant areas. With more than sufficient computer resources available at the INNOVA office and careful selection of the modeling parameters, the CadnaA software utilized for this project handled the data without fail and produced results in a timely manner.