State Department of Environmental Conservation officials consider recent criticism of Callanan Industries blasting to be without merit and, while not providing details of the agency’s oversight procedures, consider reviews to be independent.
The comments were made in an e-mail response from state spokeswoman Kimberly Chupa when asked about concerns raised by the lawyer for a neighbor of a mine off of state Route 32 following an incident in Montgomery County where people where injured from a Callanan Industries blast.
“The department has not deferred to Callanan,” she said. “DEC staff has monitored and continues to carefully monitor this regulated facility, respond to concerns and carefully assess claims of off-site damage attributed to the quarry’s blasting.”
Attorney Steven Herrick, representing East Kingston mine neighbor Tina Carpino, earlier in the week said a May 5 incident in Montgomery County underscored complaints made by East Kingston residents that blasting is more dangerous than publicly acknowledged by company representatives or state officials.
Chupa responded: “In regards to Steven Herrick drawing a connection to the recent incident in Florida, NY where the boulder flew from the blasting site and went (through) a bus, injuring several people … (the) DEC remains committed to improving mining operations at Callanan’s facilities to minimize any potential impacts to residents. To accomplish this we are continuously monitoring mining operations, including reviewing blasting records and making regular field inspections to ensure that Callanan operates within permit standards.”
Chupa added that state officials are “aware that Callanan is using a new blasting company at the East Kingston facility, which is the same company that conducted the blasting in the Montgomery County facility.
DEC continues to closely monitor the blasting activities at all of Callanan’s permitted facilities and if the Department did confirm non-compliance, we would take the appropriate actions.”
During a telephone interview Wednesday, Herrick said the agency’s response did not explain what information the state used in its assessment that was independent of Callanan Industry records.
“The DEC statement is long on generalities and short on specifics, and it appears that they continue to rely on information supplied by the company or its contractors,” he said.
“There are really only two explanations for the situation,” Herrick said. “Either Callanan is out of compliance with its permit or the terms of the permit itself are not appropriate and need to be modified.”
Herrick said damage to neighboring properties shows that the company and state officials are apparently not using equipment correctly.
“There isn’t anybody in that community that believes that the seismometers have been placed correctly to measure the vibration created by the blast,” he said.
Callanan Industries Senior Vice President Charles Stokes said property damage complaints have been reviewed by the company and none has been shown to have been caused by blasting.
“The insurance company had two separate firms do appraisals of all 11 claims that were made to us and those two firms concurred in the examination,” he said. “One was a structural engineering company looking at what occurred and the analysis that I was made aware of by the blasting company in each case was that the damage that people were alleging (was) not a result of blasting.”
Stokes also said an incident that had a Callanan Industries representative questioning Carpino while on her own property was not intended to be confrontational.
“Our interests are in assuring that everybody is safe,” he said. “When our manager was attempting to … stop traffic for a short period of time that a shot goes off he was going up the road and all he (saw was) a dark SUV off on the side, and obviously stopped to see what she was doing there. He doesn’t know her from Adam.”