State-of-the-Art Techniques Make for Kinder, Gentler Blasting

Posted on August 1st, 2009 by Editor in Blasting Safety

State-of-the-Art Techniques Make for Kinder, Gentler Blasting

Every day, 15 million pounds of explosives are used in North America to extract the minerals needed to meet consumer demands. Without blasting, our entire economy would be at risk.

Over the years, engineers have developed better and safer methods for blasting. The proposed Vincent Hills Quarry will use the latest state-of-the-art methods and techniques to ensure that blasting is not only safe but also as unobtrusive to our neighbors as possible.

At White Rock Quarries current operations in Doral, Florida high-end homes stand within just 1,000 feet of our facility and yet suffer no inconvenience from our carefully designed blasting activities.

In fact, you might be surprised at the everyday activities that generate far more vibration and noise than new blasting methods. Studies show that a 27 degree exterior temperature change–the kind that occurs regularly in central Alabama in the fall and sometimes in the spring–produces nearly 94 times more strain than the expected vibration blasting  at Vincent Hills Quarry will produce on the nearest structure. For example, slamming a door, children jumping–even hanging a picture–produce considerably more vibration within a neighboring home than will our blasting activities.

The effects of vibration on structures have been studied for years, and thus safe levels of vibration are well known. These safe levels are called “threshold values,” because they are below the level at which any damage can occur, even to the weakest finish materials of a building. This threshold limit is established by the United States Bureau of Mines, and 100% of the blasting that occurs at Vincent Hills Quarry will be designed to remain well below this threshold limit. (see graphs, below)

At distances from most of the neighboring homes, most people will likely not even know a blast has occurred, while some may mistake it for distant thunder.

Here are some other facts to consider regarding the state-of-the art blasting we will employ at the proposed quarry at Vincent Hills Quarry:

  • Use only the latest and best technologies, including electronic detonators and laser profiles.
  • Avoid blasting on Sundays, holidays and before 6am or after sundown.
  • Provide online notification of days and time frames of blasting.
  • Provide personal notification to certain neighbors, upon request, of scheduled blasting.
  • Perform a pre-blast survey (with owner’s permission, of course) for all residents and businesses within a 1.5 mile radius from the center of the property.
  • Use directional blasting techniques where appropriate.
  • Install seismographs and/or strain gauges at additional homes and locations nearest to the mining operations.
  • Provide facility tours for neighbors, public officials, media representatives, students and teachers–including observation of a blast and all phases of mining operations.

Using this technology means that each blast lasts less than one second. And current plans call for there to be only a few blasts per day.

Although some residents have expressed concern about the effects of blasting on water wells, independent studies show a well would have to be within 24 feet of the blast itself to result in damage to the wall surrounding the well, based on the methods we will employ.

A study by David Suskind of Twin Cities Research also shows no correlation between blasting and well quality in Appalachian wells. Likewise the U.S. Bureau of Mines (USBM) conducted a comprehensive study and found no impact to water wells. And a study by Philip R. Berger, a researcher commissioned by the USBM, concluded there is no correlation between blasting and adverse impacts to water quality, quantity and well integrity.

Finally, keep in mind that although some opponents of this economic development project have maintained that blasting could damage the Logan Martin Dam, professionals with Alabama Power Company have carefully examined this issue and concluded that the dam will not be affected in any way by blasting.

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Photo credit: Photo courtesy Dyno Nobel

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