Report: Airport Blasting Not Damaging Homes

By: Val Thompson Email
By: Val Thompson Email

June 12, 2013

An engineering firm has released a report that says the blasting at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Airport is likely not causing structural damage to nearby homes.

Residents in the Walnut Hill neighborhood, a few hundred yards from the blasting site, have been noticing cracks in their walls, tiles, and foundations since the blasting project started.

"I was home for one of these things and I said 'Holy smokes!'" said Jonathan Boersma, a Walnut Hill resident.

"You don't have to be a geotechnical engineer to understand the causation," he said.

However, a group of engineers looked at a couple of homes in the neighborhood, and measured the blasts, and they say the explosions are too small to be causing structural damage, or cracks in the walls.

"They basically have reported to the board that they do not believe that the issues have been caused by our project," said CHO Executive Director Melinda Crawford.

The report says some cracks were found in the homes, but they were cosmetic in nature, and not likely caused by ground vibration. Boersma says, the damage he has seen seems more serious than that.

"We have people that have been at home during a blast that have seen pictures fall off the wall, have seen cracks open up," Boersma said.

Airport officials say, perhaps the homes are just settling.

"Every year we go through a freeze and we thaw out," said Crawford. "There's different issues that could cause different types of shifting or changing in your buildings."

Boersma says his home was built nearly ten years ago, so the settling should not still be happening. He says the airport authority is missing the point.

"I think that there's a critical cost that was not factored in to blasting," said Boersma. "And that's the damage that is being caused to our homes."

"We understand the concerns of the neighbors," said Crawford. "But this project has been a good project we've had a good contractor."

There are about eight more blasts that will happen before the end of the month, then the blasts will be dramatically reduced.

Homeowners say they are concerned that the claims they have filed with the blasting company, Maine Drilling and Blasting, will be ignored.

Aubrey Watts, the member of the airport authority representing Charlottesville, proposed that the blasting be stopped, as ordered by the city council, but the other authority members rejected that proposal because they felt the resident's concerns were already being addressed.

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