Blasting Concerns with the Scotian Materials Fall River Quarry

Click Here for the latest blasting report by a leading world expert regarding the actual blasting plan submitted by Scotian Materials in their current 2016 application for industrial approval of Fall River Quarry (or Goffs Quarry, Miller Lake Quarry or Aerotech Quarry, as it has been called at various times). Also see here for more information on the blasting contractor, Dyno Nobel.

Blasting Concerns # 1 – Dr. Favreau has pointed out several times in his report, how inaccurate and unreliable the plan submitted by Scotian Materials really is.

For example regarding fly rock, “Dyno predictions are largely undervalued, not only because Dyno uses an unreliable calculation method, but also because Dyno does not take into account the variations from the nominal values which invariably occur for the actual values of the blast parameters.” (R. Favreau, May 2016)

On Page 38, Dr. Favreau summrizes that Scotian has two conflicting ideals in their submssions. First Golder has outlined the risks and effects from one blast method, then Dyno Nobel created and supplied a different one. So to be truthful, at this point, it might be safe to say, Scotian Materials doesn’t even know what their blast plan is. But Dr. Favreau analysed them both. And this statement says it all, “It is unfortunate that the Scotian Material people do not use the reliable methods available (see references 4 and 3) for predicting accurately the vibration levels due to the intended blast methods for the proposed quarry.” (R. Favreau, May 2016)

Both methods, outlined in Scotian Materials submissions, exceed the limits outlined in the Pit and Quarry Guidelines, exponentially, and both would cause ground vibrations capable of severing the pipeline.

And our Minister of Evironment feels this report is not worth her time, or energy as it was provided by the public. Blasting is not in her mandate…..

Blasting Concerns #2 – It is Dr. Favreau’s opinion that blasting with industrial explosives in this proximity to the natural gas pipeline presents an unacceptable risk to the public travelling on highway 102 and in nearby residences. Dr. Favreau presented a scenario where enough force will be generated to shear the pipeline, and he stated this is not a result that can be easily dismissed. If this occurs, natural gas supply will be cut off by a rupture or an explosion in Goffs. Natural gas is supplied by Maritimes Northeast through their 14 inch high pressure gas pipeline running past the airport passing the quarry site within 165 metres, carrying on through the community of Miller Lake West on to Dartmouth and ends at Nova Scotia Power’s Tufts Cove Generating Station.

Tufts Cove Generating Station – “In 2003 and 2004, two 47.3 MW simple cycle natural gas fueled combustion turbine plants were commissioned. Due to low prices in recent years, the entire plant has run largely on natural gas, which has dramatically decreased its emissions profile. A sixth generating unit, known as a combined-cycle generator was completed in 2011. It uses the heat exhaust of the plant’s two combustion turbines and additional natural gas duct firing to generate 50 MW of electricity.” (…)

So NSPI would be forced to switch back over to fuel oil in the generators that do burn oil and some generators would shut down. I am not so sure such a transition is immediate. It takes time to make changes to the operations and is normally done one unit at a time….

Suddenly, when your cost of fuel is impacted indefinitely, the cost of energy becomes essentially unstable. This instability would impact all Nova Scotians as per regulations and cost sharing structure.

Heritage Gas supplies natural gas to homes, businesses, hospitals, universities and other infrastructure throughout Metro. All of these consumers would be immediately impacted by a sudden loss of supply. Because of its proximity to the site and risk with the supply in the event of an explosion or fire, at the very least HIAA and Aerotech Park and all the businesses and hotels would most likely lose their supply as well.

Suddenly, the issues with this quarry don’t look so NIMBY like after all.

Blasting Concerns # 3 – Quarry blasts are scheduled. They occur typically during a lunch hour, and all must be completed in a matter of timed efficiency. Due to the location of this quarry, there will be an additional time constraints, as the proponent is ensuring HIAA interruptions to flights will be minimal and without risk to any flights. As per Dr. Favreau, “…from experience in blasting, the writer knows by how much the values of the blast parameters may for some blasts vary from the nominal values. Large variations of burden usually occur near the edges of the blast, and maybe for a few holes only. If the large variations are recognized, corrections are sometime made before the blast; but often this is very difficult to achieve. The worst neglected large variations from the nominal values of the blast parameters are often for a situation where the blast must be detonated not later than a certain hour, and when that hour arrives there is no time to check or correct the large variations, and the blast is nevertheless detonated hoping that all will be safe.” 

By our assessment, adding time constraints to pause air traffic at HIAA minimally, to affect air traffic minimally, opportunity for variations increases exponentially. While the proponent will tell you this isn’t going to happen, the only proof we will ever achieve is by taking the risk in proceeding.

The effects of these errors are increased possibility of fly rock incidents, increased and unanticipated ground vibrations, increased and unexpected air concussion values. Accidents. Ground vibrations affect the pipeline, and our wells. Fly rock affects air traffic and Highway 102 traffic and can cause damage to structures, including the pipeline. Air concussions will affect people and wildlife. They are sometimes mistaken for ground vibrations when they cause shaking and rattling in people’s homes.

“….and the blast is nevertheless detonated hoping that all will be safe.” Dr. R. Favreau.

Environmental Track Record.

We ask that Nova Scotia Environment consider carefully the parties employed by Scotian Materials in the application to open Fall River Quarry / Goffs Quarry. A very superficial Google search resulted in enough infractions to introduce serious doubt that extreme caution and care are always used by the blasting contractor Dyno Nobel when it comes to environmental protection. As we mentioned previously, the MSDS sheets from Dyno Nobel for the explosives named in the 2016 industrial approval application state not to be released into the environment. As we mentioned before, the only treatment of effluent waste in the proposed plan is for sediment and not the carcinogens in the explosives. Of course, we didn’t see the MSDS sheets in the application (a convenient omission). Have a look at what a very quick search turned up:

In 2009, “Dyno Nobel pleaded guilty to four charges under the Ontario Water Resources Act for environmental infractions related to a 2006 spill of storm water that likely included ammonia into the St. Lawrence River. The company was ordered to pay $175,000 in fines” (…/dyno-nobel-maitland-faces-another-…).

A smaller leak resulted in a $17,000 EPA fine in 2009, with the agency saying that Dyno Nobel failed to notify emergency responders about the leak for 11 hours.

In 2010, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division also found five “serious” violations at the plant related to processes surrounding anhydrous ammonia storage and other problems, fining Dyno Nobel $3,120” (…/oregons_largest_fertilizer_pla.…).

Also in 2010, Dyno Nobel disposed of illegal wastewater into an open pit and pleaded guilty to “depositing, or causing, permitting or arranging for the deposit of waste into land or land covered by water” and was fined $110,000 (…/08/ECI-Dec10.pdf).

In 2011, “Dyno Nobel, Inc has agreed to settle a series of alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at the company’s Cheyenne plant for $110,900” (…/a8f5ecb84ef0740d852578ca0073d5d5…).

Also in 2011, “because of Dyno Nobel’s West Virginia Code violations, Dyno Nobel shall be assessed a civil administrative penalty of four thousand eight hundred seventy dollars ($4,870) to be paid to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection for deposit in the Water Quality Management Fund” (…/Documents/Revised%20Dyno%20Nobel.pdf).

In 2012, “the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued a $2,400 penalty to Dyno Nobel Inc. for failure to comply with conditions of its wastewater discharge permit for its fertilizer manufacturing facility in Deer Island in Columbia County” ( In 2013, “Dyno Nobel Inc., has agreed to pay a $257,167 civil penalty to settle alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA), Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) at its facilities in the cities of Louisiana and Carthage, Mo” (…/bb8f7f53a92100f685257c08005ddd86…).

Dyno Nobel’s parent company Incitec Pivot was recently fined $30,000 for allowing fertilizer to enter a river (t and an infamous trail derailment in January 2016 that spilled acid cost the company $14 million (…/incitec-profit-hit-by-train-dera…).

This is in addition to a major fly rock accident in Halifax in 2003 (…/company-handed-50k-fine-for-blast-1.553… which mentions in particular the “blasting expert” that Scotian Materials allowed to represent them at the public consultation, Paul Caza).

Blasting Concerns # 4 – In Dr. Favreau’s report he looks at the results and presented results from both Golder’s and Dyno Nobel’s reports. Both reports give best case scenarios in their results. They do not express any possibility that there may be faults in the rock, or faults in the process. A lack of willingness to be accurate, lack of concern for the consequences; all these issues lead to further risks and an incredibly morose understanding our significance to this proponent and our government.

Dr. Favreau outlines these issues in each of his test models of the blast plans. He also made observations about the grey matter consistent in Scotian’s Application. They include variations in the rock thickness, inattention by the driller, an old drill bit or wobbling of the drill bit, hole near the face of the bench, difficulty in placing the drill, expansion of the Emulsion explosive column, the emulsifier fails to work properly, etc. These may seem like minor issues. They would sound insignificant in some circumstances. But it seems to me, and Dr. Favreau’s modelling confirms when you are dealing with 8,000 to 25,000 kgs of explosives, these little nuances are actually pretty influential in the results of your operation.

These little issues in testing showed unintended fly rock heights attained of up to 308 metres (1,010 feet) and distances of 406 metres (1,330 feet). Planes landing at HIAA will be 200 to 300 feet off the ground over the blast site. Although there is an agreement between the two parties, Scotian has not presented all scenarios to HIAA and they made their decision based on the portrait of perfection painted by Robert MacPherson. As well, the highway is 315 m from the highway and many of the modelling show fly rock horizontal distances of well over this amount.

Dr. Favreau has stated without hesitation in his report “The writer does not propose that all the blasts from the proposed quarry would necessarily send dangerous fly rock every time. But the results of the simulations above do show that for the variations of the values of the blast parameters that the writer has encountered in quarries, the type of blasts intended for the proposed Scotian Materials quarry will without any doubt send dangerous fly rock regularly, and this is an unacceptable situation for the nearby inhabitants and the traveling public on Highway 102.” He goes on to explain that based on the details provided by Dyno Nobel indicate to him a lack of knowledge of the site itself. “… of the information obtained by Mr. Miller states that ‘General parameters of granite were used for the evaluation of fly rock range’. This strongly indicates that not a single exploratory borehole has been drilled to obtain samples that would have allowed to obtain accurate rock properties, and so predict accurately the horizontal fly rock range; it seems that the Scotian Materials people do not consider that the security of the inhabitants near the projected quarry deserve drilling even one exploratory borehole, nor sending rock samples for measurements by a rock mechanics laboratory.”


During  a blast, rock moves in any direction. Smaller stones are like bullets when they fly out of the blast.

Flyrock Boulder

Fly rock should never be under-estimated. It comes in all shapes and sizes.


Imagine driving on Highway 102 and having a rock come through your windshield.

Blasting Concerns # 5 – NSE is willing to approve a quarry without ever considering the blasting element, as they claim it is not in their mandate. So rather than have NS Labour look at the blast plans and have them reviewed carefully, perhaps even require an approval, NSE is willing to allow a proponent to decimate a wetland, scrape the footprint clean of all vegetation and soils, without ever double checking with any one on the plan in place. And when we send the blast report and our concerns to NS Labour they don’t so much as even say thank you.

Inadequate and unfavourable calculations were used by Dyno Nobel and Golder in preparing blast designs for Scotian Materials. According to Dr. Roger Favreau, Golder’s calculations always found the best case results, and they are impossible to guarantee and in some instances impossible to attain. There are actually examples of even Golder’s results exceeding limits outlined in the Pit and Quarry Guidelines.

Dyno Nobel’s plan used a calculation method called I-Blast. As Dr. Favreau explained this same method was used in a Northern Quebec mine, and estimated fly rock would travel no further than 46 m horizontally. The fly rock in fact travelled as far as 328 m. That is 7 times further than they estimated with their math. Dr. Favreau states without hesitation that Dyno Nobel’s results in their Goffs plan are dubious. Doubtful. In 2003, as we have mentioned before, Dyno Nobel (Paul Caza) were responsible for a miscalculation that sent fly rock raining down over Highway 102 and apartments across the highway. One of those rocks was able to make its way 460 m away and crash through the roof of the apartments. 460 m away? There is supposed to be an 800 m setback. How did a rock travel only 460 m and hit a building, inhabited by people?????? NSE allowed this? NS Labour allowed this? So Dyno Nobel used bad calculators in 2003, and apparently, they still do. They were obviously not meeting the PIT and QUARRY GUIDELINES. And our government is okay with this. They have no issues with these characters and have so little concern for us as residents that they wouldn’t say, “Hey, these residents would like a deeper look, and this blaster has a track record, so let’s do it. Let’s give this a really careful look.”

Member of the Nova Scotia Road Builder’s Association Robert MacPherson. Scotian Materials Limited. Rob MacPherson. Contact. Address: 100 Venture Run, Suite 103. Dartmouth. #scotianmaterials Halifax quarry quarries aggregate gravel #noFRquarry  Scotian Materials Ltd.