Covering Kentucky

Jan 14, 2013 10:35 AM

Kentucky To Investigate Mysterious Explosions

NORTONVILLE, Ky. (AP) - State officials are investigating a series of mysterious explosions in southern Hopkins County - blasts that residents say is damaging homes in the area.

Residents living just south of Nortonville blame a lead company, Donovan Commercial Industries, for an operation involving activities stretching from making plastic explosives to the disposal of old military ordnance.

Shane Cavanaugh, who lives near the plant, told The Messenger he's noticed dishes shaking and picture frames falling from his walls.

Cavanaugh, whose family builds homes, said he also has noticed cracks in some of his drywall.

"I know things happen to houses occasionally," he said. "But for cracks to be coming into your sheet rock - several cracks within a several-week period - something is wrong."

Company spokesman Matthew Donovan, who did not return messages left on his office phone or cellphone voice mail.

Kentucky Explosives and Blasting Branch manager Raymond Hudson said an inspector is setting up seismographic equipment in the region. Once the source is identified, the state will determine whether the blasts comply with state regulations.

Parameters for mining are different than those for other types of commercial blasting activities, said Linda Potter, a spokeswoman for the state Department for Natural Resources.

"Next week they will determine where it is coming from, then figure out what to do about it," she said.

Cavanaugh's cousin, Kim Herring, lives about two miles from the Donovan plant. Herring said if the blasts are within legal regulatory parameters, then the limits need to be changed to protect property.

"I don't want anything out of this," she said. "I just don't want my home destroyed."

Residents in the region are accustomed to hearing blasts since Donovan Commercial Industries established a 500-acre compound off Williams Mine Road many years ago.

The site is in a remote area just north of the Christian County border, not far from Mannington. Double Arrow Explosive Services Inc., formed in 2011, is based at the same compound and uses the same office phone number, according to the company's website.

State Rep. Ben Waide, who met with some of the homeowners after receiving calls, has talked with Donovan twice to discuss the complaints.

Donovan's "contention is what they're doing is legal, above board, that the explosions that the people are talking about are explosions above ground, which means that what you hear and feel is just air," Waide said.

"It's not actually shaking the ground and causing property damage - that's their contention," Waide said.

What homeowners are reporting would seem to indicate something more extensive, Waide said.

"I don't know if the gentleman who is exploding ordinance has damaged any property or not," he said. "I do know that the force of the explosions is something that causes things to fall off walls. That is not in doubt."

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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