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Gallagher Announces New Blasting Rules

10/30/2001

TALLAHASSEE - After more than a year of public hearings and rule workshops, State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher today announced that rules regulating blasting will be filed for adoption. The final rules would require lower vibration levels near neighborhoods and strengthen requirements for independent monitoring of vibration levels in residential areas. The rules would also establish clear standards for the use of independent seismologists and for granting explosives permits and enforcing blasting regulations.

Gallagher said the final rules address homeowners' concerns by imposing more stringent limits on vibration levels and requiring more objective monitoring. He said the rules also meet the mining industry's needs by establishing specific procedures, time frames and fees for obtaining or changing permits.

Until this year, cities and counties had the authority to regulate blasting. During the 2000 session, legislation was enacted directing the State Fire Marshal to exclusively regulate the use of explosives in construction materials mining activity.

In response, the department set out to develop blasting guidelines through the rulemaking process. Workshops were held in Miami, Fort Myers, Brooksville and Tallahassee over the last year, and input was obtained from homeowners, government and community leaders, miners, blasters, seismologists, homebuilders and others.

Gallagher said that credit is due to Representatives Ralph Arza and Mario Diaz-Balart, Senators Rudy Garcia and Alex Villalobos, and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Joe A. Martinez for pushing for lower vibration limits on behalf of residents impacted by frequent blasting near their homes.

"This is the first step in an effort to protect homeowners and the quality of life in our community," said Representative Arza. "I want to thank Commissioner Gallagher for his leadership and for putting residents first in the formulation of these rules."

"It should be of great comfort to the citizens of Miami-Dade County that local and state government officials can work together for the benefit of the community," said Commissioner Martinez.

Under the final rules, vibration limits for the use of explosives in limestone mining are now consistent with federal standards and state law. More importantly, the rules require lower vibration levels near neighborhoods, with the limit set at .5 inches per second compared to the prior .75 inches per second. The .75 inches per second will still apply to areas other than neighborhoods. The rules also require higher standards of objectivity for seismologists measuring ground vibrations near residential areas.

The new rules are expected to go into effect no later than November 15, 2001.