Two hurt in quarry explosion Jamesville accident leaves one in critical condition at University Hospital. An explosive accidentally detonated during routine limestone mining Thursday at the Jamesville Quarry, injuring two mine workers – one who was standing very close to the blast hole and one who was a few feet away, according to the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department. Try Our Classifieds Kevin Deline, 44, of Cortland, was struck in the head by limestone fragments, and was in critical condition after surgery Thursday at University Hospital. Frank Lapp, 34, of Parish, was treated at University Hospital and released. Both the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration and the state Department of Labor are investigating the blast, which occurred about 8:30 a.m. on Hanson PLC’s property off Jamesville Road. Investigators could not say Thursday whether the explosion was caused by human error or a product malfunction. Deline and Lapp, both employees of explosives supplier Dyno Nobel, a Hanson subcontractor, were preparing a controlled blast intended to slice 40,000 tons of limestone from a quarry wall, said Sgt. John D’Eredita of the sheriff’s department. Twenty-two holes had been drilled deep into a limestone wall. The workers had lowered explosives into all but eight of the blast holes when one charge prematurely exploded, said Undersheriff Warren Darby. “My understanding is that the one man (Deline) was right over the hole, so you’re getting that blast right straight up at you,” Darby said. Lapp was no more than 15 or 20 feet away, D’Eredita said. Both men held a valid license from the New York Department of Labor to handle explosives, a labor department spokesperson said. Neither company officials nor investigators could say Thursday what type of explosive the workers were using. Sheriff’s deputies cordoned off the ridge around the accident scene, located about a half-mile from the hilltop Hanson office compound. Federal mine safety investigators, led by Vic Lefcznske, of Cranberry Township, Pa., closed off the blast site but did not shut down Hanson’s entire quarry. The remaining charges will be detonated within a day or two, said Amy Louviere, a federal mine safety spokesperson. A state police helicopter shot aerial photographs of the accident scene to get shots before and after the remaining charges were detonated, Darby said. Hanson’s Jamesville plant manager, Gary Eno, did not return telephone calls Thursday. A search through 20 years of mine safety administration reports revealed no serious on-the-job accidents at Hanson Aggregates’ New York sites. But in July, a 20-year-old Liverpool man died when he drove an ATV off a cliff at an old quarry on private property owned by Hanson on Old Schoolhouse Lane in DeWitt. No-trespassing signs were posted there. Hanson contracts for explosive work with Dyno Nobel, one of the world’s largest producers of commercial explosives. The Oslo-based company was founded by Norwegian businessmen who were close associates of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite and the father of the Nobel prizes. The two injured workers were employed by Dyno Nobel’s Middlefield, Conn., office – Deline since 1996 and Lapp since March 2001. Dyno Nobel hasn’t had a serious mining accident since 1997, when two Connecticut blasting workers were using a wooden tamping pole to dislodge a stick of nitroglycerin-based dynamite they were inserting in the last of 21 quarry holes, mine safety administration reports state. The charge exploded, throwing one worker over a cliff at York Hill Trap Rock Quarry, and seriously injuring a second. Around the country this year, 38 people have been killed in sand and gravel mines, according to the mine safety administration. Last year, 30 died, compared with 47 in 2000. Dyno Nobel’s Salt Lake City headquarters flew its corporate safety manager, Michael Kelly, to Syracuse, but officials would not comment on the accident Thursday night. “We are investigating the incident right now,” said spokesperson Pat Weber. “We don’t have enough information to talk about it at all.” Hanson detonates explosives about once a week, said Joe Testone, supervisor at Riccelli Trucking, a neighboring business. “We definitely feel it when they’re blasting,” he said. The quarry’s Department of Environmental Conservation permit does not limit how often blasting can occur, said Ken Lynch, regional director in Syracuse. Generally it’s market-driven, probably once a week or every two weeks, he said. The DEC issued Hanson a five-year permit about a year and a half ago, Lynch said. Permits deal mainly with environmental issues, but require that federal mine safety standards be met. Chris Ronay, president of the Institute of Makers of Explosives, an industry safety association to which Dyno Nobel belongs, said explosives are dangerous, but necessary to maintain the standard of living in the United States. Every day 187,000 tons of cement are mixed, 80 pounds of gold are used to fill 500,000 cavities, and millions of tons of minerals are mined to make talcum powder, toothpaste, cosmetics and computer parts in the United States, he said. “Accidents are pretty rare,” Ronay said, “but when they do happen it’s usually because some safety procedure has been violated or overlooked somehow.”
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