Quarry blast rocks North Bay

In­ci­dent spurs con­flict­ing mes­sages from emer­gency ser­vices

The Sudbury Star - - NEWS - JEN­NIFER HAMIL­TON-MCCHARLES

A seis­mol­o­gist with Nat­u­ral Re­sources Canada has con­firmed there was no earth­quake in the North Bay area Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

Stephen Halchuk said it’s not un­usual for a quarry blast to be mis­taken for an earth­quake, which is ex­actly what hap­pened at about 9 a.m.

“It wasn’t an earth­quake. Rather the quarry blast that oc­curred reg­is­tered on the Richter scale,” he said.

“Our in­stru­ments record vibrations as they travel through the earth. They can’t tell what the cause of the shak­ing is.”

Halchuk said most earth­quakes oc­cur 10 to 20 kilo­me­tres be­low the Earth’s sur­face, “but we do get shal­lower earth­quakes that are recorded on seis­mome­ters that are man­made. That is where the con­fu­sion is.”

He said Nat­u­ral Re­sources said it re­ceived re­ports from area res­i­dents of shak­ing.

“With­out know­ing the lo­cal de­tails, it was as­sumed it was an earth­quake,” Halchuk said.

“To most peo­ple they wouldn’t know the dif­fer­ence be­tween a quarry blast and a small earth­quake. There are a few sec­onds of shak­ing fol­lowed by a loud boom or rumble.”

Jolanta Kowal­ski, a spokesper­son for the Min­istry of Nat­u­ral Re­sources and Forestry, said the min­istry, as well as the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment and Cli­mate Change, are fol­low­ing up the in­ci­dent.

En­vi­ron­ment and Cli­mate Change is lead­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the blast, which re­sulted in con­flict­ing in­for­ma­tion from lo­cal emer­gency ser­vices, as well as pub­lic con­fu­sion.

The first me­dia re­lease came in at 10:40 a.m. from North Bay Fire Chief Ja­son White­ley

“This morn­ing a blast shook all parts of the city and was felt as far away as As­torville. City de­part­ments and the cus­tomer ser­vice cen­tre were in­un­dated with in­quiries. Fire crews con­firmed that Miller Paving at their Birch’s Road quarry ex­e­cuted a con­trolled blast to pro­duce ag­gre­gate for their up­com­ing high­way project,” he stated.

White­ley went on to say that “City of North Bay de­part­ments were un­aware that the blast­ing was to take place to­day, there­fore we could not make the pub­lic aware.”

How­ever, at 3 pm Tues­day North Bay po­lice used Twit­ter to ad­vise the pub­lic of a pend­ing blast.

“Please be ad­vised, there is a sched­uled con­trolled blast at the quarry at the end of Birch’s Road in North Bay, at about 6 pm tonight. Just in case any­one in the south end of the city hears any­thing con­cern­ing.”

At 10 a.m. Wed­nes­day, North Bay po­lice posted the Twit­ter mes­sage: “NBPS has re­ceived con­fir­ma­tion from Nat­u­ral Re­sources Canada that a small earth­quake mea­sur­ing 2.2 on the scale oc­curred at 9:05 am this morn­ing cen­tred ap­prox­i­mately 3 kms south of North Bay. Lots of calls but no re­ports of dam­age or in­juries.”

That was fol­lowed by a me­dia re­lease at 11:24 a.m. in­di­cat­ing the po­lice ser­vice re­ceived sev­eral calls from con­cerned cit­i­zens re­gard­ing pos­si­ble blast­ing in the area.

“North Bay po­lice con­firmed with Nat­u­ral Re­sources Canada that at ap­prox­i­mately 9:05 am the North Bay area had a mi­nor earth­quake mea­sur­ing 2.2 on the scale. It was cen­tred just south of the city.”

By 2 p.m., after The Nugget con­firmed an earth­quake did not oc­cur, White­ley shortly after fol­lowed with a sec­ond me­dia re­lease.

“Nat­u­ral Re­sources Canada re­ported ear­lier to­day that the North Bay area ex­pe­ri­enced an earth­quake. I have fol­lowed up with a seis­mol­o­gist from NRC and, based on in­for­ma­tion and ev­i­dence, they have ac­knowl­edged that the vibrations de­tected from their equip­ment would have been from the blast­ing at the quarry.”

Res­i­dents re­ported that their en­tire house shook, their floors swayed for a few sec­onds and their win­dows rat­tled and blinds were bang­ing against win­dows.

An­other res­i­dent said he will be look­ing for cracks in his dry­wall be­cause the shak­ing was so in­tense.

SUP­PLIED PHOTO

A quarry blast Wed­nes­day morn­ing at the end of Birch's Road is seen from the top of Lau­ren­tian Ski Hill.

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