ST. PETERSBURG — Hear that rumbling emanating from the east late last night, St. Petersburg residents? An earthquake? No. Black Ops next-generation engine test at MacDill? No. Sea monster roused by the desalination plant?
No. Just a "steam blow" at the Progress Energy plant on Weedon Island.
The plant's internal piping has been undergoing an internal steam cleaning for several weeks in a final phase of preparing for a transition from fuel oil to natural gas burning this summer, said Progress Energy spokeswoman Suzanne Grant. This rumble-inducing phase will be complete in two to three days, she said, so there could be another noisy night or two.
"We use silencers to mitigate any noise issues, but we understand there was a rumble some heard," Grant said. "We apologize if it caused any unrest.''
The process has been continuous for several days, she said, but the noise is not generally noticeable until the quiet of night.
Some residents were not happy about it.
Ray Plato, a 72-year-old retired teacher who has lived on Shore Acres for 40 years, said the noise woke him up at 3 a.m.
"I'm grumpy as hell when I don't get my sleep,'' he said. "If you lived anywhere in the city you had to have heard it. I thought I woke up in Dante's Inferno. It sounded like I was sitting on the wing of a 747.
"I'm thinking that even the most indifferent bureaucrat wouldn't inconvenience the taxpaying public at night,'' he said. "Half the city had to be awake last night.''
St. Petersburg police received a few calls about noise, which they referred to the Sheriff's Office because the plant is outside city limits.