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Blasting at the Virginia
Hospital Center at Arlington

(Arlington Hospital)

From: Tara-Leeway Heights Civic Association [mailto:tlhca@yahoo.com]

Sent: Thursday, January 03, 2002 11:23 PM

Subject: Tara-Leeway Heights eNews

Important Notice on Blast Operations at Arlington Hospital

Date: December 31, 2001

From: Anthony Moore, Bovis Lend Lease Consulting/Owners Representative

Re: Virginia Hospital Center Arlington
Subject: Blast Operations

As part of the construction of the new hospital and parking garage building, blasting is required to excavate for the underground garage. The blasting is anticipated to occur once a day for the next three weeks. Blasting will not occur on the weekends. The typical blast time will be 3:00 p.m. The alternate time for smaller or rescheduled blasts will be 11:30 am. Air Power, Inc is performing the blasting. They are well qualified and have been issued a permit from Arlington County Fire Department to perform the blasts. The Fire Department will monitor the blast operation to ensure public safety. In addition to the Fire Department monitoring, an independent seismograph company is monitoring the blast operations through vibration and noise sensors.

The following are the normal procedures that will be utilized prior to each blast:

    1. Site Check: The site will be checked by the blasting crew to make certain that no one is within the danger area and that all access to the site is guarded.

    2. Air Horn Signals:

      * FIVE-MINUTE WARNING - Three long horn blasts.
      * BLAST SIGNAL - Five Short horn blasts. The blaster will start the explosion within one minute of the fifth horn blast.
      * ALL CLEAR - One long horn blast.

While blast noise and vibration can be held to non-damaging levels, it is normal for the blasts to be heard and felt, sometimes for considerable distances depending on the geology and weather conditions. The human body can sense ground vibration up to 1/100th of that necessary to cause even minor damage to residential dwellings. It is however recommended to bring children inside during the blast. Children tend to have different perceptions of the blast than adults.

There was a blast that occurred on December 26, 2001 that was above the anticipated noise and vibration parameters. The blast was however within the noise and vibration parameters allowed by the Blasting Authority (Arlington County Fire Department).

The Waycroft Woodlawn Civic Association sponsored a meeting for neighbors to ask questions and have their concerns heard on December 30, 2001. Representatives from the Hospital, Construction Manager, and Blasting Company were present at the meeting. The primary concerns and responses to those concerns were as follows:

Q. Why was the blast experienced on December 26, 2001 so intense?

A. There were several blast holes that detonated simultaneously, and the holes were designed to detonate at one time

Q. Will this occur again, and what is being done to prevent such a loud blast?

A. It is not likely that the intensity will be the same as the December 26, blast. The blasting material used is being change to a less volatile material.

Q. Who should residents contact if they have claims of damage?

A. Clifford Leiter Safety Director for Air Power, Inc. He can be contacted at 703 471-4071.

Q. The warning horns were not heard in some cases. Can the volume be increased?

A. Yes, the piece of equipment with the warning horns on it will be moved onto the surface of the site.

Q. Schools in the area let children out before and after the blast times. How can we protect the students?

A. The construction manager will post people on approaching streets to warn pedestrians of the anticipated blast. Schools will also be notified.

Although the discussion on blasting was rather in-depth, the above questions and resolutions appeared to summarize the concerns about the scheduled blasting. For additional information feel free to contact Clifford Leiter or Anthony Moore at 703 284-0540. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Anthony R. Moore
Project Manager
Bovis Lend Lease Consulting
5118 N. 16th Street
Arlington, VA 22205

This page was last revised on: December 28, 2003.
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