In the opinion of this newspaper, the fall-out from a blast at the Porcupine Mountain quarry owned Martin Marietta Materials Canada Ltd., just outside the Town of Mulgrave, could have been handled better.
On July 9 at around noon time, Mulgrave Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Darlene Berthier Sampson said she and an administrative assistant felt a significant blast.
Acknowledging that she is new to Mulgrave and blasts of that magnitude, the CAO described it as “very intense” during the regular monthly meeting of Mulgrave Town Council on September 3.
Within moments, Berthier Sampson said she received an e-mail from the town’s water plant manager with an attached picture showing a crack in the town’s water treatment plant.
Berthier Sampson recalled that she then proceeded to contact Martin Marietta at 12:10 to confirm they had just blasted, which they had. Since then, she reported to having two face-to-face meetings and several phone calls with company officials to discuss the damage.
According to the CAO, the company claimed their sensors showed the blast was within predetermined limits, but she said Martin Marietta explained that noises of that nature have the potential to disorient some people.
Berthier Sampson said she relayed her concerns to the company then contacted Nova Scotia Environment but was unable to determine the blast level threshold without filing a freedom of information request. The CAO also got the company to put the town on a blast notification list to receive notification when there is going to be a blast.
Berthier Sampson said she was able to file a claim with the environment department, which is an open file with documentation, so they can record any future blasts they feel are significant or damaging. As a result, the town is asking that any resident who believes they may have felt the blast of July 9 in their homes, or want to report any future blasts, to contact town officials.
Mulgrave Mayor Ralph Hadley explained that the town used to get a heads-up when there was blasting taking place at the quarry, but that was before management changed. Since that time, Hadley said the town has not received the same amount of communication from Martin Marietta.
Although this is an important issue that requires some public explanation, for some reason, Martin Marietta has decided to remain publicly mum on the subject since the summer, and did not even respond to multiple requests for comment from The Reporter.
And aside from phone calls, Martin Marietta has held only two sit-downs with the town in the past three months, despite Mulgrave’s damage claim.
It seems there was a time when the town and the company co-existed peacefully. Yes, there were explosions from Porcupine Mountain in the past, but at least in those days, the town had regular communication with the company and was given a heads-up when blasts were scheduled.
Now, Martin Marietta has to be asked to give notice to the town.
The Town of Mulgrave is an invaluable partner with the company, at the very least, they deserve better and more consistent communication, and that goes beyond simple notice.
Martin Marietta needs to provide the town with what they believe is the threshold for blast levels, disclose whether their blasts exceed or meet those levels, and accept responsibility for damage from large blasts.
By showing some accountability, working with the town and being more transparent with the public, Martin Marietta will have demonstrated not just how valuable they are to the community, but also how they value the community.