New blasting rules threaten Maine quarry

McGee Construction and Quirion Construction face the loss of quarry operations at their quarry near Augusta, Main following a proposed change to the city’s blasting ordinance that would reduce the number of blasts allowed per year.

A compromise proposed in an effort to settle a long-running dispute about blasting between a quarry owner and neighbors of the quarrying operation would reduce the number of blasts allowed per year but, unlike a previous proposal, would not reduce the size of allowable blasts, reports.

Currently, the city’s two quarry operators, McGee Construction and Quirion Construction, both on West River Road, are allowed a specific number of blasts per year in their licenses. McGee Construction owner Steve McGee said he’s licensed to have 10 blasts a year, while Quirion is licensed for 12 blasts a year.

The proposal would leave the existing city standards for an allowable blast, as measured by ground vibrations and particle velocities, at the current levels, which are 75 percent of what is allowed under state standards.

Blasting and construction company officials said that standard, just 15 percent of the current standard, would be so low it wouldn’t be economically feasible to continue blasting rock for construction projects.

McGee said what city officials describe as a compromise in the proposal they made last week, which would reduce the number of blasts he could execute each year from 10 to six, also would not allow his business to blast enough rock to be financial feasible for his construction business.

“I cannot survive on 60 percent of the blasts I have and consider it, indeed, regulatory taking,” McGee said at Thursday’s City Council meeting.

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