map300 hopkinsMADISONVILLE, Ky. (1/22/13) – SurfKY News attended the Hopkins Co. Fiscal Court meeting this morning and among regular meeting agenda, the meeting addressed the blasting issue that’s been causing so much commotion in the Hopkins County area and surrounding counties, including Muhlenberg. The blasts have been reportedly heard and felt all the way from the south end of Hopkins Co. even further south into Christian Co. to the opposite direction north, with some even reporting to have heard it in Evansville, IN.
The blasting effects are alleged, but not confirmed, to be coming from a site on the Hopkins County and Christian County line, technically in Nortonville. The company is called Double Arrow Explosive Services, Inc. (DAES). DAES is a company licensed to dispose of bombs, ammunition, and other explosives onsite since 2006. Donovan Commercial Industry (DCI) is another business with the same ownership that was first at this location on 400 Williams Mine Rd. in Nortonville in 1996 and now co-exists on the property with (DAES). SurfKY News called for a few words from President and owner of both companies, Matt Donovan, but he was on the range at the time. Reporters hope to hear back from him about the allegations that local citizens are making in regard to the home damage being caused by blasting from this site. Madisonville Public Works Director, Jeff Browning, said that Williams Mine Road was closed to the county when (DCI) took ownership of all of the property in ’96.
Hopkins Co. is a mining community and it cannot be argued that booms and blasts have always been heard and felt to some degree around this area. The community can usually explain it by simply having the knowledge of all the mine activity in the area. However, the current question is why are we just now hearing and feeling these blasts with such frequency and intensity? And most importantly, what’s being done about it?
Residents of certain areas in Nortonville and some even in Madisonville are reporting that their homes foundations are being damaged due to the blasting. There are reports that the blasts come through with such intensity at times, that pictures are shaken off of the walls in people’s homes.
The concern has been brought to the attention of county and state government. Magistrate for District 1, Karol Welch said if there isn’t something done soon, she plans to take the issue to Washington, D.C. She said that she is gathering her constituent’s claims in letter form and wants to let them know they’re being heard and taken seriously. She is speaking in office on behalf of them in hopes of getting the issue resolved in some way. “If it means taking steps to get the county or state ordinances and regulations changed so that the blasting doesn’t continue with any damaging intensity,” Welch declared.
Hopkins County Attorney Todd P’Pool has a meeting scheduled with representatives, including from (DAES) this coming Thursday, Jan. 24, to go over the company’s general liability insurance policies. He said, “Though it is unclear at this time whether or not the blasting from that site is certainly causing damage to homes as the homeowners claim, either way, it will come down to being a civil matter within private parties, based on each individual home owner with damage claims, versus the (DAES) Industry. P’Pool concluded that “…In the interest of community members,” he wants to make sure “…All the right parties are communicating with one another…”
Director Browning said that he speculates the (DAES) company is highly regulated by state and federal law and the company claims to be under regulation as far as their blasting intensity. SurfKY News spoke with Linda Potter, Director of Technical Administrative Services for the KY Division for Explosives and Blasting, (KYDEB) and Potter said that it has not yet been definitely determined that the blasts everyone is feeling and hearing are without a doubt coming from (DAES) and that the state is in fact, “Taking the appropriate steps toward figuring out what’s going on and resolving the issues.”
In response to county complaints, last Monday, Jan. 14, the (KYDEB) came down to launch investigative procedures in the Nortonville area near (DAES) and around some of the homes where homeowners are making claims of damage due to blasts. Potter said the (KYDEB) members spoke with the homeowners and the group set up seismographs around the area to measure the air blasts waves and frequency. She said the seismographs will stay put for a couple of weeks until they can gather enough data to determine where the blasts are certainly coming from and therefore take the appropriate action in moving forward if need be. Potter said (KYDEB) will tentatively come back to read the seismographs next week, being the end of Jan. and if the data is inconclusive, they will leave them put longer, “…Until there is a sufficient amount of evidence and data measured so that we can address the problem. It may end up being longer than a week or two in order for us to measure the consistency and frequency.”
An employee with (DAES) told SurfKY News that what people are hearing is the railroad hardening and the air blasts from the job the company is currently working on. The employee, who asked to remain anonymous, said that the railroad hardening has been going on since around October of 2012, which would explain why the noises are just recently being heard with such intensity and frequency within the past few months. SurfKY News is waiting to hear from Mr. Donovan to hopefully answer why the railroad hardening produces stronger blasts than other projects. Director Browning had also mentioned that the blasts are heard with greater intensity on cloudy days when there’s overcast because, “Sound stays closer to the ground on those days.” The winter months do produce more overcast days than other times of the year, which could account for why the sounds are being heard more in recent months, unless it comes to surface that the company is using stronger explosives for the railroad hardening project, if the blasts being heard and felt are even confirmed to be coming from (DAES) location.
The bottom line is, though inconclusive for a certainty on precisely where the blasts are coming from, why now and what damage is it really causing, the county and state officials are taking procedures to ensure this matter is addressed and will continue to do so.
Jessica Frodge
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