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Danger from flyrock

10/16/2008

By Arthur Hendrickson

I would like to inform the residents of Moretown and the traveling public who use Route 100B of one of the dangers the proposed Rivers' quarry would create if permits are granted. This danger is from flyrock. Flyrock is a potential cause of death, serious injury and property damage. Rivers has tried to trivialize blasting issues by stating there will be only 12 blasts per year lasting about a second each. While it is true that the duration of a blast may be short, Rivers will be using approximately four tons of explosives for each blast, and it would only take one accident to cause death, injury and property damage. The proposed quarry site is on top of a hill, so any flyrock sent airborne will have the benefit of gravity to send it farther distances than a quarry situated below nearby properties.

On September 24, 2008 in South Burlington, the Maine Drilling and Blasting Co. detonated a blast that threw flyrock several hundred yards and resulted in damages estimated to be a million dollars to aircraft, vehicles, buildings and grounds at the Burlington International Airport. Miraculously no one was injured. The same company had a blast go awry in Raymond, NH, on April 25, 2005, doing damage to buildings and vehicles over 1,000 feet away. The Maine Drilling and Blasting Co. is the one that detonated the two unannounced test blasts at the proposed quarry site of Richard Rivers in Moretown. These test blasts resulted in injuries to horses in the area and the shaking of the home of the closest neighbor. The largest of the two test blasts was about one-third the size of the proposed production blasts.

On June 11, 2007, in West Lebanon, NH, Green Mountain Explosives detonated a quarry blast that resulted in flyrock being thrown about 3,000 feet (10 football fields) into an industrial park doing damage to a building and vehicles. This same blast also sent flyrock about 4,000 feet that landed on Lebanon Airport property, including a runway. The manager of Technical Services of Green Mountain Explosives, Tim Rath, is representing Rivers as his blasting expert in environmental court. Mr. Rath testified at an Act 250 hearing on May 2, 2006, that during a blasting event the nearby residents near Rivers' quarry should be in their homes and not out on their property. When asked specifically about the danger from flyrock, Mr. Rath said, "You can never say never." No matter how careful a blaster is there is no certainty a blast will not cause flyrock. There are over 20 homes within 3,000 feet of the proposed quarry with the closest property lines just over 200 feet away.

It is written in the Moretown Town Plan on Page 24, Section 4.10 (A) "No land or structure in any zoning district shall be used or occupied in any manner so as to create dangerous, injurious or noxious conditions that adversely affect the reasonable use of adjoining or nearby properties." In Section 4.10, (B), Page 25, (3) "No fire, explosive or safety hazard shall be permitted which significantly endangers other property owners or which results in a significantly increased burden on municipal facilities."

Moretown's Select Board has been actively supporting the decision of the development review board. There is an effort going on in Moretown by a group to stop the select board's support. The DRB decision, the Moretown Town Plan and the zoning regulations of Moretown should be defended by the select board. No one should be allowed to undermine town law or alter the carefully thought out decisions made by the Moretown DRB and the District 5 Act 250 Commission, just because they may have the deep pockets to do so. The quality of life in Moretown depends on the voluntary time and efforts of the DRB to interpret the town plan and zoning. All DRB decisions must be adhered to now and in the future to keep Moretown one of the best places in the world to live.

Arthur Hendrickson lives in Moretown.

Editor's Note: Maine Drilling and Blasting was not involved in the two unannounced blasting tests at the Rivers' quarry.

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