An Explosive Situation
By Therese Dunphy, Editor-in-Chief
In what can only be categorized as a mistake of monumental proportions, a former Kansas assistant attorney general deleted all the rules and regulations covering explosives permits from the state records. To remedy this error, State Fire Marshal Doug Jorgensen wants the state to pass Senate Bill 227, which would give him the authority for writing rules and regulations — including provisions for fixing, charging, and collecting license fees and penalties — after the bill is passed. I’m not sure about all of you, but I like to know what I’m agreeing to before I put pen to paper.
Adding insult to injury, Sen. Tom Holland quipped to The Topeka Capital-Journal, “Did people in the industry kind of take a holiday?” No, they did not. Even in the absence of true regulatory authority, the state’s three manufacturers, 1,412 blasters, 201 storage sites, and 178 users of explosives followed what they believed to be the law regarding the safe storage and use of the 60 million pounds of explosives detonated while the state was the one taking a leave of absence from its governance duties.
Edward Moses, managing director of the Kansas Aggregate Producers Association, correctly argues that a state error doesn’t justify allowing the fire marshal’s office to develop a whole new set of rules and regulations. The existing governance was developed over many years with the involvement of numerous parties. “We haven’t been on a regulatory holiday for the past three years,” he told the newspaper. “The reality is that we already have a finely tuned system of explosives safety and regulation, which more than adequately promotes the public safety and allows for the safe development of our natural resources.”
Operators didn’t have anything nice to say about the bill either. Kelly Briggs, president and chief operations officer of Bayer Construction Co. — which has five portable limestone crushing plants in Kansas and storage permits for explosives in five counties — talked to the newspaper about Senate Bill 227. “As a small business owner, whose company will be directly affected by this proposed legislation, I stand opposed,” he said.
In the midst of a mistake of its own creation, the state’s knee-jerk response has been to make a bad situation even worse. Instead, it should restore — and recreate, if necessary — the deleted regulations and put an end to its regulatory leave-of-absence.
3 things I learned from this issue:
1. Coarse material falls to the toe and front of stockpiles, while finer material falls near the conveyor, page 20.
2. Cemex’s Balcones Quarry (featured in our February issue) is the second largest crushed stone operation, according to the USGS, page 25.
3. Screw washers require about 50 gallons of water per minute for every short ton per hour of minus 200-mesh material in the feed, page 28.
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