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Blasting at quarry near Cumming a concern
quarry

FORSYTH COUNTY — Bluegrass Materials officials met Monday night with neighbors of its Ronald Reagan Boulevard quarry affected by blasts that have seemingly intensified over the last few months.

Some of those in attendance at the informational meeting reported feeling stronger shakes recently, including one resident who likened the effects of blasting to an earthquake.

“I lived in California for 16 years … and I guarantee you that I’ve went through 5.5s, 6s, 4s [earthquakes on the Richter scale], all kinds over the years,” said Gary Poisson, who lives in the nearby Woodland Park community.

“What I’m feeling now is as powerful as anything I felt out there … I’ve got chandeliers that swing like a trapeze. I’ve got a china cabinet that shakes and we’ve had things fall over and break. I’ve got cracks going through my walls and ceilings.”

The main issue for many neighbors is that the blasts have seemed stronger than usual in recent months.

Officials confirmed the blasting likely has caused more vibrations as the company has been expanding one of its pits since November, but they are doing all they can do to minimize the impact.

“That’s about when we started a new level down,” said Donnie Walker operations manager with Bluegrass. “That level, I’m just going to be honest with you, there’s probably another shot that needs to take place there, and then the rock will have some place to go.”

Vibrations have increased as Bluegrass moves down the pit, but the company is trying to expand the hole outward instead of going down. Walker said crews have to strip soil over the deposits they’re looking for, which is something the quarry’s previous owner didn’t do

“We were forced to go down to stay in business,” he said. “So now we are stripping to open the pit up. We’re spending $2 million to open this pit just this year alone … we want to make it wider first before we go down.”

Roger Reeder of Deep Earth Logic, a company that works with Bluegrass on blast analysis, said that the company was well within regulations and uses the latest technology to minimize the impact, including more costly blasting caps that can trigger all necessary explosions in less than a second.

“The amount of vibration that is produced by this company is less than a lot of others,” Reeder said. “They’re never going to tell you that you’re not going to feel the blasting … [that’s] the nature of this business.”