Palumbo shipyard, tugboat crew not guilty of noise pollution

Court appointed expert said source could not be pinpointed as emanating from Dock 5 where the Hamal was berthed.

The three men accused of disturbing the nighttime repose of Senglea residents were not found guilty by the court.

Pointing to the fact that there were a number of vessels in the area at the time, the court said it could not follow the prosecution's “simplistic reasoning” that, as the sounds were coming from the direction of the Palumbo shipyard, they must therefore be held responsible.

The police believe the source of the noise to be a generator aboard the vessel Hamal and charged the vessel's captain and engine superintendent with disturbing the repose of the residents during the night.

Court appointed expert Prof. Joseph Agius could not pinpoint the source as emanating from Dock 5 where the Hamal was berthed.

A group of residents from the Senglea Residents Association organisation filed a criminal complaint last week against the Palumbo shipyards, claiming that the incessant noise coming from the facility has made their lives a misery.

One man explained how he would be awoken at 3:30am to sounds of “hammering and cutting with a saw.” Another played a video recording on his mobile phone of the noise allegedly emanating from the shipyard, late at night. Another resident whose wife is confined to a wheelchair, complained that he could not take his wife out on the balcony because of the noise and dust pollution. He had to install double-glazing because of the noise, he said.

The court had gone out of its way to treat the issue as a priority after it heard several residents of the streets above the bastions, testify to being unable to sleep due to the constant noise coming from the shipyard. However, this morning Magistrate Aaron Bugeja pointed out that he was bound to decide solely on the grounds of the evidence presented before it. The evidence did not satisfy the court as having proven, beyond reasonable doubt, that the noise was coming from the Hamal.

Lawyers Abigail Bugeja and Matthew Brincat appeared for the three accused. Inspector Josric Mifsud prosecuted.