newsstaunton monitoring blasting in vista heights residents worried about underground caves

Staunton monitoring blasting in Vista Heights; residents worried about underground caves

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Blasting in the Vista Heights neighborhood in Staunton has some residents concerned about an underground system of caves and caverns that could be impacted by the activity. Blasting will continue at 914 Middlebrook Avenue, the future site of a new workforce housing/apartment complex.

According to a news release from the City of Staunton, the Staunton Fire Marshal’s Office is monitoring the blasting, but in the absence of an egregious or eminently harmful violation, the SFMO does not have authority to stop or suspend a blasting operation.

Pre-construction surveys = a subsurface exploration program and geotechnical engineering evaluation = were conducted on Sept. 14, 2021, and Dec. 16-17, 2021. These studies were conducted by two different companies, and the conclusion of those surveys is that no underground cavern exists under the blasting site.

Property owners in the Moore Street, Mineola Street and Hilltop Drive area of the Vista Heights neighborhood are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the SFMO procedures for complaints.

Each complainant should provide the following information when calling the SFMO:

  • Name, full address, phone number;
  • Location of the blasting operation causing the complaint;
  • Person or name of the company causing the complaint, including address, phone number, license numbers, etc. or any other identifying information. Please provide as much information as possible.
  • Description of complaint, dates and times of incidents as best as you may be able to determine.

The Statewide Fire Prevention code sets limits on the ground vibrations and air blasts a building may be subjected to during blasting activity. These limits are based on long-standing national standards and are not offered as a guarantee against damage from ground vibrations or air blasting.

Construction companies which use explosives must have duly issued permits, be insured and bonded, and blasters must be certified by the state and be registered with the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation.

While violations of the SFPC can be treated as a criminal matter, the financial recovery for damage sustained from a blasting incident is treated as a civil matter. It is possible that a property owner’s insurance company or private attorney may be able to recoup financial loss from a contractor.

Owners with questions may reach out to Deputy Fire Marshal Perry Weller at (540) 332-3720.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.