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Blast breaches cost Pike $3,000

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Posted: Wednesday, June 29, 2011 5:46 pm

WESTBROOK – The city has fined Pike Industries Inc. $3,000 for two violations committed during recent construction blasts the company conducted.

City Administrator Jerre Bryant said the city had the option of fining up to $2,500 per violation. The fines, he said, total $2,500 for one violation on May 17, and $500 for another violation May 20.

Pike conducted the blasting in late May and early June, while constructing an access road connecting Spring Street to a controversial quarry the company plans to reactivate after decades of lying virtually dormant. The proposed increased activity has rankled adjoining residents and businesses, including residents of the Birdland neighborhood.

Bryant said Pike violated a blasting agreement twice during the construction blasts – on May 17, for blasting too loudly, and on May 20 by blasting too late in the day. Bryant said the company blasted after 3 p.m., but only because the company was delaying due to safety concerns, and while Pike officials knew it was late in the day, it was also on a Friday, and leaving live explosives on the site through the weekend was even more risky than violating the agreement. The interest in safety, Bryant said, was a factor in the city offering a smaller fine.

“The blasting after 3 o’clock was a violation, but was the right thing to do from a safety standpoint,” Bryant said.

Meanwhile, a resident is complaining that the work has done damage to his house.

Brad Chicoine, who lives in the Birdland neighborhood, is filing a complaint with Maine Drilling and Blasting, the firm Pike hired to do the blasting, alleging that since the work began, a hairline crack nearly 8 feet long has appeared in the ceiling in his living room.

“I knew it wasn’t there prior (to the blasting),” he said.

He has also found a series of small cracks in 13 tiles in his kitchen flooring, which he had installed two years ago.

“I was pretty upset,” he said.

Chicoine said he hopes other Birdland residents will be checking their homes more carefully for damage after what he said happened to him. Chicoine said he hopes the blasting company will pay for the damage.

Kathy Guerin, Maine Drilling and Blasting marketing director, said the company was still processing the claim, and declined to say whether it would be paid.

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