U.S. Department of the Interior

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Ken Eltschlager
(412) 937-2169

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Blasting is an integral part of surface mining operations. To uncover coal reserves, the rocks overlying the coal are broken with explosives and excavated with various types of large earth-moving equipment. Without blasting, a vital part of the nation's energy reserve would be inaccessible. Blasting is one of the most frequent complaints received by OSMRE.

Blasting at a mine in the Appalachian Region.

Blasting at a mine in the Appalachian Region.

TheĀ Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA) requires that coal mining be conducted in a manner that prevents injury to people and damage to public or private property during blasting. The side effects of blasting are:

  • “flyrock” a rock or rocks moving through the air or along the ground after a blast and travel beyond the blast area (security zone),
  • “ground vibrations” a seismic wave that moves through the ground following a blast,
  • “airblast” a concussion (or pressure) wave that moves through air following a blast,
  • “fumes” the gaseous byproducts that are the result of an explosives detonation, and
  • “dust” small particles of earthen material that may be temporarily suspended in air.

The most dangerous and apparent of these is flyrock. Injury or death to people and property damage may happen when a piece of rock is thrown beyond the permit boundary. The blaster is responsible for preventing flyrock and controlling ground vibration, airblast and fumes.

OSMRE oversees the only national program to certify blasters. Training provided for blaster certification addresses the control of flyrock, vibrations, airblast and fumes by the appropriate use of explosives and hazard recognition in the field. Read More >

Page Last Modified/Reviewed: 12/23/16

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