Ottawa sends MP to solve mysterious 'Windsor Hum'
Published Tuesday, May 1, 2012 10:30PM EDT
While the Motor City has produced popular sounds like Motown and the deep pulse of Detroit Techno, lately residents in the neighbouring Canadian city of Windsor have been complaining about a different kind of noise.
In fact, local chatter about a strange, disruptive hum along the Canadian side of the Detroit River has been commonplace for more than a year.
And now federal officials in Ottawa are taking notice.
Known as the "Windsor Hum," residents in some areas of Windsor say that a low-frequency rumble has kept them up at night, knocked objects off shelves and rattled their windows.
While conspiracy theorists could point to alien or supernatural origins, many locals believe that the noise is somewhat less fantastical.
There is some evidence that the noise is emanating from Zug Island, a heavily industrialized strip of land on the U.S. side of the river that looks more like Mordor than the Motor City.
The coal-blackened Zug Island is full of factories and smokestacks, and it's common to smell heavy chemicals and petroleum from the area.
But the noise is a different story.
Some Windsor residents have described the sound as similar to a large diesel truck idling, which others have likened it to a throb. Others have said that it makes their pets go wild, and has even led to dead fish.
What makes the noise even more puzzling is that residents on the American side of the river don't seem to hear it.
Last month, the number of complaints in Canada apparently reached a breaking point, and Bob Dechert, the parliamentary secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, made a trip to Detroit to launch an investigation into the sound.
"There appears to be a noise or a vibration" Dechert told CTV's Power Play on Tuesday.
He added that the Ontario government asked the Canadian Geological Survey to do a study, and the result was that no seismic activity was found.
"They decided that it wasn't seismic activity, and that it was likely acoustic sound noise coming through the air, likely from across the Detroit River," said Dechert.
However, since that study was geological in nature, it didn't pinpoint the origin of the sound.
"I didn't hear it when I was there, but it doesn't mean it doesn't exist," he said.
Despite the lack of complaints on the U.S. side of the Detroit River, Dechert said that officials in Michigan and at the local level have been very co-operaive.
Dechert said that if heavy industry in the area is in fact the source of the sound, the large companies operating in the zone are all reputable and have environmental compliance departments designed to deal with such issues.
Dechert said the complaints began in March 2011, and it will take time to figure out the cause.
"It's something that requires more research," he said.