Blasting for solar array moves to former golf range Monday

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NORTH SMITHFIELD – The company performing blasting to make way for a massive solar array on Iron Mine Hill Road will move their work to a south-facing slope on the property starting Monday, Oct. 26 , with a new set of residents likely to feel vibrations from the work.

A-1 Drilling & Blasting notified neighbors in the area of the change in a letter this week, noting that work will move to a former golf range on a property owned by Ralph and Muriel Ferra.

Removal of ledge precedes the construction of one of the largest solar arrays in the region, a 38.4 megawatt project by Green Development.

The activity has subject to some scrutiny following a blast in August that shook homes, frightening homeowners well outside the region, according to reports from residents. In late September, a company was hired to oversee the work following ongoing complaints to Town Hall.

Pennsylvania-based GeoSonics/Vibra-Tech was selected by the town and has monitored blasts since, which Town Administrator Gary Ezovski assured residents have all followed limits set by the state fire marshal.

A-1, a company based in Uxbridge. Mass., has also set up a call list for residents who want to be notified of blasts in advance. Individuals who want to be added to the list can call the company at 508-779-7737.

But the group of those who hear and feel the blasts may change this week.

“The work completed to date has largely been focused on a north facing slope in the northern part of the property,” Ezovski said in his weekly newsletter. “They are preparing to start blasting on a south facing slope on a more southern area.”

A letter from A-1 was delivered to homes along Iron Mine Hill Road, Sayles Hill Road and Valley View Drive. The company noted that three long whistles will go off five minutes before each blast, with two short whistles to signal when one minute remains.

“A-1 Drilling & Blasting Company’s highest priority is to ensure your safety and to minimize any inconvenience blasting my cause you,” the letter stated.

While all blasts have been below levels known to cause damage to residential structures, anyone concerned is encouraged to take photos of both the interior and exterior of their home to establish a record of conditions.

“Humans can feel vibrations at really low levels, well below levels that can damage construction materials,” Ezovski noted. “Because of this sensitivity, blasting may startle a person not expecting it.”

Anyone who believes they have damage from the blasting operation is instructed to contact the Rhode Island State Fire Marshal at 401-889- 5555 and fill out a damage complaint form.

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