Blasting renewed, investigation ongoing

Sidhu Trucking has resumed blasting operations at the Hamilton Boulevard extension thanks to the lifting, on Friday morning, of an Occupational…

Sidhu Trucking has resumed blasting operations at the Hamilton Boulevard extension thanks to the lifting, on Friday morning, of an Occupational Health and Safety no-work order.

On Saturday morning, the site held its first blast since the botched May 6 explosion that sent boulders cascading into the nearby Lobird subdivision.

A revised set of safety procedures governs the dynamite experts.

 “Smaller blasts, covered blasts and more guarding,” said Jeff Boehmer, program manager of the boulevard extension.

Renewed operations will be conducted with the same crew that was responsible for the May 6th fly-rock incident, said Sidhu official Bill Cratty.

Lobird and area residents were supplied with a handout detailing some of the new procedures.

Residents were assured the company was taking pains to prevent “flying rock.”

In addition to “optimizing blast design” and using appropriate blasting mats (which were not used on May 6th), Sidhu is also doing more to inform residents of upcoming blasts.

Two minutes before a blast, residents will hear 12 short whistle signals at one-second intervals. Following the blast, a single 15-second whistle signal will indicate the “all clear.”

Whiteboards warning of upcoming blasts have been installed at both the Lobird subdivision and the entrance to Yukon Gardens.

As well, additional guards will be posted to monitor residential areas before, during and after blasts.

Even the program manager’s voicemail was at work to keep the public informed:

“Hi, you’ve reached Jeff Boehmer at Community Services for June 16th. There’ll be one blast today between four and five … leave a message at the tone.”

The new safety procedures come as a result of recommendations included in an incident assessment prepared by Explosives and Rockwork Technologies, a Vancouver-based blasting consultant.

The 21-page report blamed the flying-rock incident partially on the poor drilling of holes to hold explosives.

“Larger holes were drilled in an area where smaller, deeper holes were required to break the rock,” said the report.

Flying rock was not directed at the Lobird subdivision, but was vented in that direction because of the malfunction, stressed the report.

The assessment recommended a danger radius of 228 metres around the blast site, and that only those persons incidental and necessary to blasting operations should be within 365 metres of the blasting site.

All blasting on the Hamilton Boulevard extension should be completed by “sometime in August,” according to the handout.

While operations may have resumed, the Occupational Health and Safety investigation into the May 6th incident is ongoing.

In a month, or so, the board should have a clearer idea of potential charges against Sidhu Trucking, said Occupational Health and Safety public relations liaison Frank Fry.

Already delayed for more than a month by the work stoppage, the project could see additional delays as a result of smaller blast volumes.

The full blasting incident assessment is publicly available in both hard copy and online through Occupational Health and Safety.