Fumes from mysterious generator seep into Canton home

The problem: A mystery device parked on a Canton corner emits fumes and makes noise all day.

The back story: Richard Przybyszewski's new neighbor of about six weeks hasn't been very friendly.

All day and night, a generator on a trailer parked on South Clinton Street at Eastern Avenue rumbles and gives off noxious fumes, he said.

"I woke up one morning early ... and there it was, unannounced, sitting there on the corner," he said. "It's been on 24/7, seven days a week."

The machine, which bears a Sprint decal, is linked by wires to a building on the corner.

The elementary school teacher started calling the city's 311 service, which sent police officers to look at it. They referred him to the Department of Public Works, which told him to contact housing officials.

"They said they'd look into it," Przybyszewski said. "... It really comes down to quality of life. The fumes come straight into the house."

But getting a response was difficult, according to Przybyszewski.

"I called Sprint and it's an answering machine," he said. "You deal with the city, you can't get a direct answer."

So, Przybyszewski called his last resort: Watchdog.

We called Baltimore's Department of Transportation, which sent parking enforcement to investigate because, under city law, vehicles can only remain in one spot on city streets for 48 consecutive hours. It turns out the trailer already bears a tire "boot" lock - one attached by the owner, possibly to prevent theft.

"We did chalk the vehicle, and we will be back out if it isn't moved," transportation spokeswoman Adrienne Barnes said. Other city agencies were also weighing potential violations, city housing spokeswoman Cheron Porter said.

Watchdog also contacted Sprint Nextel. Spokeswoman Natalie Papaj was apologetic.

The building's landlord did not pay the power bill to run cell towers on the roof, according to Papaj. The towers are "critical for us to provide service to anyone in that neighborhood," so the company brought in the generator Oct. 1.

One neighbor complained about the noise, so employees turned it around to put the generator closer to the intersection, Papaj said. "Since that time we have received no complaints," she said.

However, it's expensive to use the generator, and Sprint wants to be responsive to the neighbors, Papaj said.

The company is working on two possible solutions - restoring power to the building or providing an alternate source of power. In the meantime, if the generator continues to be a problem, staff will bring bales of hay to buffer the noise, Papaj said.

Who can fix this: Rob Cobane of Ericsson, a Sprint contractor. 973-276-8260. City residents should call 311 to report problems.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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