"The Only Thing That Gets Broken Is The Rock"
"If anyone is expecting a loud, showy spectacle they will be disappointed," Bill Stewart, Jr., DelDOT Project Engineer in charge of the excavation for the Blue Ball Properties Project, told community residents at a public meeting July 25th. "There will be no loud explosions, no dirt or debris flying in the air, and no dust will be covering the landscape."
Low-intensity underground blasting began the week of August 5th in the project area near AstraZeneca headquarters on Route 202 and is expected to take several months. All the blasting is scheduled to occur between 9 AM and 3 PM. The blasting is needed to establish new wetlands north of the Alapocas community and to construct stormwater management ponds and storm drainage for the entire West Side Improvements Project.
"What we are doing is breaking up the rock beneath the surface," Stewart explained. "Then we'll excavate the loosened soil with bulldozers. We do not expect there would be any displacement of topsoil because of the blasting. The most residents should experience will be the popping sound of the detonating caps, similar to a series of firecrackers, and a slight rumbling sensation reminiscent of a clap of thunder, or the equivalent of a 10-15 mile an hour wind. All charges will be detonated underground and should not be felt beyond a 500-foot radius of the blast."
It is not likely that blasting will affect traffic along Route 202. However, if that should happen, a maximum of 15 minutes detainment would be allowable for each blast and most would take no more than five minutes.
The blasting is being done with the closest of scrutiny and safety. No blasting material is stored at the site. All material is transported daily from out of state. Materials not utilized during the working day are removed from the state at the end of each day. The Delaware State Fire Board is notified every time a delivery truck enters or leaves Delaware. For the guarantee of complete safety, the detonating caps and the charges are being transported on separate vehicles.
Many other precautions have also been taken. For example, prior to the blasting, residents of neighborhoods within a thousand foot radius of the blasting area were given the opportunity to complete a pre-blast survey and to document existing conditions on videotape. These recordings will be compared to post-blast surveys for possible effects from the blasting. Due to its historical significance, careful monitoring will be recorded for all blasts at the Blue Ball Dairy Barn and its neighboring milk barn, as well as an existing reservoir and other nearby historic structures including the Murphy House, the Bird-Husband House, and the Weldin Plantation Ruins.
To continue the policy of public involvement and education, DelDOT Project Manager, Mark Tudor, has organized state representatives, elected officials, representatives of local business and civic leaders to establish the Blue Ball Properties Project Construction Advisory Group to meet monthly to discuss the project's progress, plans and concerns. A full-time project field office has been established on the site, which includes project information as well as a schedule timeline for the upcoming weeks.