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Data Storage Hardware IT Technology

Noise Protests Close Paris Data Center (datacenterdynamics.com) 157

judgecorp writes: Data center firm Interxion has been ordered to close a data center in Paris over protests from residents. The local group complained about noise and large quantities of stored diesel fuel at the site, saying that the consultation which allowed it to open in 2012 was flawed. Now Interxion's license has been revoked and it has two months to appeal
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Noise Protests Close Paris Data Center

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  • Who is going to pay for relocation and construction costs for a new facility? If they were given the go ahead to build in 2012, revoking that now surely means they shouldn't have to pay for the relocation costs?

    How about making the people who complained pay for it? They don't seem to understand the concept of living in a big city and that you sometimes have to deal with other people, commercial activity and noise. If they don't want that they should move to the countryside.

    • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @11:56AM (#50774539)
      It probably depends on where the cited flaws in the original assessment were found. If it's demonstrated that noise and other nuisances associated with the study were downplayed by the company that owns the datacenter, then they'll probably simply be on the hook. If an outside company did the assessment and screwed it up, if France requires companies to post bonds for this kind of work, then their bond will be pulled.

      Either way, if the operating conditions of the datacenter don't match what was promised to the neighborhood and licensed, it should not be the neighborhood's responsibility to put up with it.
    • I doubt that anyone disclosed the use of large diesel generators in a residential neighborhood. If they made that clear at the outset, they wouldn't have gotten a go ahead.

      • by aaarrrgggh ( 9205 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @12:42PM (#50775005)

        In the US, the rules for noise and emissions from generators are generally pretty solid. If the summary is correct, their complaints are more noise and *quantity* of diesel storage on-site. The quantity shouldn't be an issue, although in the US we would generally try to use ballistic tanks if close to the property line or any sensitive locations.

        Noise can be a couple things-- cooling towers too close to the property line without any acoustic treatment, air cooled chillers without an acoustic screen wall... but the most annoying one is a procedural issue of testing (or operating) the generators in early morning hours.

        I had a project where we had a lynch mob ready at the gates while we were running a generator for 8 hours starting at 8AM on a Saturday. Never put a critical facility close to a wealthy neighborhood...

        • by Arkh89 ( 2870391 )

          This quantity of fuel is treated as a potential risk in France and in the EU mostly due to industrial catastrophes such as Seveso (Italy) in 76 or AZF in 01. The zoning laws are now pretty strict for sites having large stocks of flammable/explosive materials. It also appears that this data-center has several aerial container.

          For the noise, my guess is that the court ruling is only temporary and will require the owner of the facility to shield the sources.

        • in the US we would generally try to use ballistic tanks if close to the property line or any sensitive locations.

          I'd prefer the tanks were tethered securely to the ground.

      • When I had to design a redundant power system I didn't chose diesel. We did disaster what if and determines liquid fuels like gasoline and diesel in emergencies is hard to come by.

        Natural gas on the other had would take an asteroid strike to potentially wipe that out. Plus if the road were taken out the gas would likely continue to flow. So natural gas it was to a 125kW generator.
        • Natural gas on the other had would take an asteroid strike to potentially wipe that out.

          Or an earthquake. The same earthquake that takes out the electric grid. Oops.

        • by jbengt ( 874751 )

          . . . gasoline and diesel in emergencies is hard to come by.

          Natural gas on the other had would take an asteroid strike to potentially wipe that out.

          Or a small earthquake, which is often part of the reason diesel is chosen. Other reasons are cost and size. For a 125 kW generator that might not make that big a difference, but for large generators, it can be significant, though there's a trade-off with fuel storage. But that also depends on what length of time you are planning to use the generators - mo

          • I was amazed how the infrastructure continued to degrade in the weeks after Hurricane Andrew. Particularly wired telephone was better for a week or two before the "repairs" started. Natural gas did pretty well, but I think some service was suspended during the repair phase. Of course, if your propane tank didn't blow away, you were good until it came time to refill it.

            The smart people whose homes were totaled did move out after Andrew - making a go of it in that environment was pointlessly difficult.

        • If you're building a datacenter this size and care if a disaster takes it out 48 hours from power loss, you're doing it wrong.

          That 48 hours is there to gracefully transition to the other sites and is a gift that the disaster didn't destory the building outright.

      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

        Sure they are backup generators they do not run most of the time. Frankly the should never run except for short tests. They have the same type of setup as any Hospital does.
        Frankly I do not see why you would want to put these "edge" centers in cities. Is it that much cheaper than running dedicated fiber to one in a more rural or industrial area?

        • Frankly I do not see why you would want to put these "edge" centers in cities. Is it that much cheaper than running dedicated fiber to one in a more rural or industrial area?

          Given the price of real estate in Paris... maybe not.

          • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

            If the price is expensive than wouldn't it make more sense to move the servers outside the city and run a dedicated fiber optic line to a small distribution center in the city?

    • by gnupun ( 752725 )

      Maybe they'll convert the data center into something less noisy and recover some of their losses. Isn't it common sense not to run noisy generators near residential areas? It's the company's fault for not being diligent.

      • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

        Why would they need to run generators at all is the city's power grid that crap that they would need to run them all the time?

        Yes I know they should be started and run for a while at least once a week as or so as part of standard maintenance practice but diesels are for emergency power. The once weekly test should not be an issue.

    • by creimer ( 824291 )
      The community college in my neighborhood is in the process of replacing 50-year-old buildings. The old baseball field in the middle of campus was closed. City council and neighbors approved a baseball field next to the neighborhood. Which was fine until the 80-foot-tall poles for the nets to capture the baseballs went up, creating an instant eyesore. That little detail got left out of the scaled model that everyone saw. The poles came down, the new baseball field became a new soccer field for the campus and
      • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

        Nets to catch base balls? Why? I have never seen such at that height. Normally just damages cars in the parking lot anyhow.

        • by creimer ( 824291 )
          I've seen 80-foot tall nets at a golf range next to a freeway. Can't have those birdies interfering with the evening commute.
    • by Tailhook ( 98486 )

      Who is going to pay for relocation and construction costs for a new facility?

      The suckers that were stupid enough to invest in a Paris facility. You don't want your investment erased by The Powers That Be? Stay the hell away from such places. The young have figured it out [yahoo.com]. Indulging an anti-business mentality has consequences.

      • Indulging an anti-business mentality has consequences.

        According to CIA and IMF, France's public debt as percentage of GDP hovers around US's [wikipedia.org]. So no, there doesn't actually seem to be consequences besides not having to put up with a noisy industrial facility in a residential neighborhood.

        Or it could be that demanding businesses be good neighbors is not actually anti-business but perfectly reasonable. Who knows.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by NotDrWho ( 3543773 )

      How about making the people who complained pay for it?

      From what I understand the French in general, and Parisians in particular, complain about EVERYTHING--especially anything that involves change. Any company trying to do business there without knowing that ahead of time has only themselves to blame. If you tried to punish every Parisian who complained, you would have to turn the whole city into a jail.

      • by Tailhook ( 98486 )

        Any company trying to do business there without knowing that ahead of time has only themselves to blame.

        Exactly. No one should be compensated. Kick out the knuckleheads that invested in the site and give it to whatever pressure group from whom it will buy the most votes. Let all the other investors take a lesson from this; don't invest in anti-business libtard, operated cities.

      • So, pretty much like suburban Americans who live in an HOA-controlled development then? ;-)
        • Amen brother.

          My HOA cut down my rose bush as a "weed". HOAs are evil, I will never buy in an HOA controlled community again.

      • by Spaham ( 634471 )

        Stop complaining about our complaining, you insensitive clod.

    • the concept of living in a big city and that you sometimes have to deal with other people, commercial activity and noise.

      There's also the converse which is that if you're doing anything in a big city, you have to be mindful that there are people living next door. If you can't adapt to that environment without making it worse for those who live around you, you should move to somewhere more suitable.

      I appreciate the Ameri-centric nature of Slashdot means many here have never lived in a (real) city, and th

  • Well, if government changes its mind long after serious money is spent, the government should pay for it.

    I don't know if it will, but it should.

    • Rimes homophones with rhymes.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      Why should the government, or anyone not financially involved in the design, construction, and operation of the datacenter pay if the datacenter is not operating within the parameters that it was licensed for?
      • Why should the government, or anyone not financially involved in the design, construction, and operation of the datacenter pay if the datacenter is not operating within the parameters that it was licensed for?

        Of course I haven't read the article, but is that true? Is the datacenter louder than they said it would be when the approval was granted, or are people just now deciding to complain about it?

        • Why should the government, or anyone not financially involved in the design, construction, and operation of the datacenter pay if the datacenter is not operating within the parameters that it was licensed for?

          Of course I haven't read the article, but is that true? Is the datacenter louder than they said it would be when the approval was granted, or are people just now deciding to complain about it?

          It seems like they were deciding to complain about it when they turned the generators on and they realized their lives would be a living hell from then on.

      • Why should the government, or anyone not financially involved in the design, construction, and operation of the datacenter pay if the datacenter is not operating within the parameters that it was licensed for?

        First of all, the government is involved in the design and the construction, since it insinuates itself pretty thoroughly in the process. So it's involved.

        Second, the arguments were that the data center was operating within the parameters for which it was licensed, but that it should not have been licensed at those parameters.

        So you kind of need to read the article?

  • After RTFA (Score:3, Informative)

    by prisoner-of-enigma ( 535770 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @11:58AM (#50774561) Homepage

    After RTFA, I made this translation:

    "Back in 2012 this company asked for a permit to build this data center. We, the local residents, didn't bother reading much of anything regarding it, didn't do any research whatsoever into what would be involved, and didn't show up at any of the hearings where these things were discussed. Now, after abdicating all personal responsibility years ago, we suddenly want to hold the data center owners responsible for our negligence. We've organized a squeaky-wheel-gets-the-grease campaign and co-opted local politicians and judges into doing our bidding because it gets them free publicity. In the end, the only losers will be the data center owners (and, of course, their clients) who, after all, are probably wealthier than we, the local residents, are and therefore we hate them."

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      After reading TFA, I noticed that there were 424 signatures on the "Get thee hence, thou Evil Datacenter" petition.

      Nice to know how few people can kill a business in France. It'll do wonders helping companies decide whether to set up in France or elsewhere....

      • It amazes me that more than 8 houses could hear the noise, generators aren't that loud...

        Very likely, this is more of an anti business move than a OMG scary diesel and noise!

    • There’s no point in acting surprised about it. All the planning charts and demolition orders have been on display at your local planning department in Alpha Centauri for 50 of your Earth years, so you’ve had plenty of time to lodge any formal complaint and it’s far too late to start making a fuss about it now. What do you mean you’ve never been to Alpha Centauri? Oh, for heaven’s sake, mankind, it’s only four light years away, you know. I’m sorry, but if you can

    • Re:After RTFA (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @12:17PM (#50774771) Homepage

      Funny, I read it as incomplete review which wasn't very forthcoming (or accurate) on details: "The public inquiry was poorly conducted and did not allow people to get the full information," said Ms Sageloli. " The published notice was hard to understand and did not clearly indicate that it concerned a data center. "

      And, really, the "580,000 liters of diesel fuel" is a LOT.

      The court's decision to cancel Interxion's operating licence was based specifically on the noise pollution the refrigeration and backup generator systems produce.

      If you're making a ton more noise than you promised, or simply failed to say "oh, BTW, we'll me making a shit-load of noise", then, yes, the review was grossly incomplete.

      There is not enough words in the story to arrive at your carefully crafted "translation".

      I would like to know what the information provided for the initial review -- because I'm entirely not sure of what actually happened, and neither are you. And I'm entirely willing to believe someone glossed over some details to get it approved.

      • 580,000 liters is only really a lot in a single above-ground tank, but based on your read I agree that it isn't the primary issue. (It is only ~200MWh of fuel.)

        As for noise, would they really not have an ordinance on acceptable noise levels at the property line? (In the US) violating that ordinance can get you shut down quickly. 50dBA at the property line continuously though is quite annoying, especially in the higher pitches of a chiller.

        • by jbengt ( 874751 )
          I think you may have slipped a decimal place, based on emergency generators i've designed for lately, 153,000 gallons would be good for about 2,000 MWh.
          Why would storage be above ground, though? In the USA, anyway, there's a lot more restrictions on above ground storage than on below ground because of fire hazards, unless you have a lot of open space.
          And if noise is the issue, then that can be mitigated, even after the fact - unless they were stupid enough to put the chillers and generators right on the
      • And, really, the "580,000 liters of diesel fuel" is a LOT.

        For a 76MWh facility a quick calculation puts that somewhere between 24h and 72h worth of power. Not unreasonable for a datacentre.

      • I would like to know what the information provided for the initial review -- because I'm entirely not sure of what actually happened, and neither are you. And I'm entirely willing to believe someone glossed over some details to get it approved.

        I like this money quote: "The published notice was hard to understand and did not clearly indicate that it concerned a data center." So if the guys said "we're building a datacentre" then everyone would have been 100% clear on what it entails right? Because we are all experts in how datacentres affect the local area?

        Given only 7 people showed up to the review, a place where they would have had the chance to ask questions and get informed I'm going to err on the side of the comical translation provided by th

      • And, really, the "580,000 liters of diesel fuel" is a LOT.

        Not really. That's about what a typical hospital emergency backup system stores on site, as well (150,000 gallons is considered a minimum, which translates to a little under 570,000 liters -- and that's a minimum; most systems store a lot more, especially designated trauma centers).

        Guess they better close their hospitals, too.

      • by jbengt ( 874751 )

        And, really, the "580,000 liters of diesel fuel" is a LOT.

        To put it in perspective, TFA said that the data center is "rated" at 76 MW. So if 100% of that is backed up, 580,000 liters (153,000 gallons) of diesel fuel will last about a day. (YMMV)
        I'm currently doing fueling design for emergency generators for an airport, 18 MW of capacity. They have 6,000 gallons of diesel (about 4 hours of fuel) in the "day tanks" in the generator building, and 160,000 gallons of fuel in the underground storage tanks. T

      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

        "The public inquiry was poorly conducted and did not allow people to get the full information," said Ms Sageloli. " The published notice was hard to understand and did not clearly indicate that it concerned a data center. "

        Sounds like the problem is with the local regulators. It is their job to make sure everything is done on the up and up.

    • Since I'm from France, I found some other articles explaining the real reasons, and they are pretty different from TFA.

      Here are my sources:
      http://www.zdnet.fr/actualites... [zdnet.fr]
      http://www.lemondeinformatique... [lemondeinformatique.fr]

      First, Montreuil is 11 kilometers away from Paris, it's reasonably near and a lot cheaper.
      You can check the photographs, the residents live only a few meters from the datacenter.

      The problems appeared because Interxion would like to add an extension to the datacenter, doubling its capacity, and thus the noi

      • The fast solution would be for Internexion to buy out the complainers.

        Lest you think I'm joking, this is _exactly_ what airports do for their approach paths. Once they own the land that's affected by noise they can tell the tenants to live with it or move out.

    • After RTFA, I made this translation:

      You forgot this part:

      "It was on display at the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying beware of the leopard."

  • Paris. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by plover ( 150551 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @12:00PM (#50774589) Homepage Journal

    And I thought battling U.S. bureaucracies was ugly. Why anyone would try to operate a business in Paris that isn't a bank, restaurant, shop, or tourist trap is practically beyond reason.

  • The company goes through all of the required government bullshit, spends 132M Euros on the project and now the government can just arbitrarily revoke the company's permission to operate the facility? That's bullshit. If the public inquiry process was flawed as the residents' attorney claims, why aren't they suing the government? What were the residents doing while this massive construction project was happening in their neighborhood?

    I certainly hope the company wins on appeal. At the very least, the gov

    • by Cesare Ferrari ( 667973 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @12:53PM (#50775147) Homepage

      There are heaps of scenarios which would lead to a different conclusion if, for example, the company was dishonest. Apparently, companies sometimes don't tell the truth. It would be quite possible for the company to not have built what it applied for, or for some important facts about the plan to have been omitted, or intentionally mis-represented.

      Another possibility is that the planners are corrupt, or simply incompetent and the application should have been rejected.

      As has been suggested, it's possible that the residents messed up, but i've a feeling this is unlikely.

      I imagine an appeal will get to the bottom of this, and some sort of compromise would be the most likely outcome.

      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

        "There are heaps of scenarios which would lead to a different conclusion if, for example, the company was dishonest. Apparently, companies sometimes don't tell the truth. It would be quite possible for the company to not have built what it applied for, or for some important facts about the plan to have been omitted, or intentionally mis-represented."

        Then it should have failed the inspections.

        "Another possibility is that the planners are corrupt, or simply incompetent and the application should have been rej

        • I think you've got the gist of my suggestions, and the implications.

          As for community meetings, yes, i've attended a fair few. As for people being idiots, I think you'll find it's a bit more complex than that. The majority of people aren't used to speaking in public, many are uneducated, and a number will have very weird ideas. Collectively though, there will be a consensus which is likely to be conservative, and distrustful of change, and from experience will at the same time be sensible and pragmatic. You

  • How can an article like that have so few details? What does their permit say? What was the application process? Were the citizens intentionally misled about what was going in, or were they ignorant?
    • I'm going to take a few guesses here, because the article forces us to do so.
      • The article (especially the French source) seems biased in favor of the residents
      • Nowhere in the article does it list what the permit entails, information that would surely be easy to find for a half-competent journalist
      • The article does nowhere say that the site is in flagrant violation of the permit
      • As such, it is not inconceivable that the permit does mention diesel generators (that seem to be listed as a backup for grid power
  • I wouldn't exactly describe Montreuil as in Paris.

  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @01:37PM (#50775547)

    It occurs to me this problem could go away if Paris had reliable power.

    Hospitals store about the same amount of fuel, have similar chiller requirements, and periodically fire up their backup generators to ensure functionality.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      It occurs to me this problem could go away if Paris had reliable power.

      Hospitals store about the same amount of fuel, have similar chiller requirements, and periodically fire up their backup generators to ensure functionality.

      Doesn't matter how reliable your power is, you still need to keep a reliable generator and supply of fuel at a datacentre.

      My city hasn't had a brown or blackout in 20 years that wasn't caused by a natural disaster (mostly trees falling on power lines but the odd storm has taken out power to a significant portion of the city) but a significant number of services and businesses need to keep generators due to those natural disasters

      • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 )

        I'm not actually aware of any country in the EU that has power lines supplied through over ground cables.

      • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

        The thing is that using diesel generators and storing diesel on sight is a dumb and stupid solution to the problem of backup power generation and shows a total lack of critical thinking by those designing data centres.

        Here is the thing, mains gas supply is several orders of magnitude more reliable than electrical supply (at least here in the U.K.) this is down to two factors, firstly when things go wrong really bad things happen so the regulations governing it are much higher, and two the entire network is

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        There are all kinds of reasons. One of my favorites was power company shut off power due to an error in paperwork. It was good to have a backup while they dispatched a truck to turn it back on.

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