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Lawyer Questions State’s Decision to Allow Blasting to Resume

An attorney representing a resident of this town of Ulster hamlet who has challenged blasting activities by nearby Callanan Industries is puzzled by the state’s decision to allow the company to resume operations locally, while continuing to prohibit blasting at its site in Montgomery County.

State Department of Environmental Conservation action allowing Callanan Industries to resume blasting on state Route 32 while prohibiting blasting at the company’s Montgomery County quarry has left the attorney for an East Kingston woman puzzled.

Rick Georgeson, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said Monday that it could be up to three weeks before an investigation by the U.S. Mine Safety Health Administration and the state Department of Labor into a May 4 blasting accident in Montgomery County is complete.

Attorney Steven Herrick, who represents East Kingston quarry neighbor Tina Carpino, said the lack of information on ground vibrations locally has done nothing to instill confidence that a May 8 noise violation against Callanan was not an indication of larger problems. He said he finds the latest decision by the Department of Environmental Conservation troubling because studies measuring ground vibrations have not been returned for review.

“They are doing seismologic testing and the results will be available in 30 days,” he said. “How can the DEC lift their prohibition against blasting without having the results of these tests?”

Herrick was also concerned that Callanan Industries, which provides blacktopping and crushed materials for both town and state projects, was seeking sympathy over the potential for employees to lose work in East Kingston.

“It seems to me that Callanan upped the ante here by closing down the mine and throwing people off the job,” he said. “Having played the jobs card, the DEC’s response was to basically fold their hand.”

State Department of Environmental Conservation spokeswoman Wendy Rosenbach said the department would not respond to the comment about jobs. She said officials are still developing a response to concerns earlier this month over the quality of vibration monitoring equipment.

Rosenbach acknowledged that the department is still waiting for tests from ground vibration monitoring.

“About the seismic study, that was done about a month or so ago and there was never a condition that (Callanan Industries) couldn’t blast awaiting the results,” she said.

Police said flying rocks, some up to 80 pounds, from a blast at Callanan Industries’ quarry in Montgomery County on May 4 injured two students on a passing bus and the driver of a car on the state Thruway. The company has since fired the blasting subcontractor, Orica USA, which was also blamed for the East Kingston violation of sound limits four days later.

Callanan Industries received five-year mining permits in November 2006 for East Kingston and January 2007 for its Montgomery County facility.

Senior Vice President Charles Stokes said the company has been given clearance by federal officials to resume blasting, but was waiting for the state investigation to be completed. He added it was surprising that the state has not made ground vibration monitoring results available, since the company has turned over its records when requested.

“We are always, obviously, measuring by far, far more than is necessary by regulation and we always have,” he said. “Those have always been available to DEC. They have taken all the information they wish at any time they wish. I would assume they have a complete record of it.”


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