September 10, 2007

Blasting near Howard Lake to start Saturday

Surplus TNT will be blasted intermittently for about a week to destroy it

By Jennifer Gallus
Staff Writer

People around Howard Lake will be having a blast, actually several blasts – literally.

World War II surplus TNT will be legally and safely blasted near Howard Lake starting Saturday, Sept. 15 and will continue intermittently until Saturday, Sept. 23.

No your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. Pat Borrell of Waverly is federally licensed to buy and sell explosives, but has been told, during a recent inspection of his supplies, that his WW II TNT is possibly dangerous because of its age, and he must get rid of it – meaning it has to be exploded.

“It was dangerous when it was brand new,” Borrell laughed. “Actually, TNT is probably the least dangerous explosive you can use because it is very stable,” he said.

The explosives are properly stored in a magazine (an explosives storage unit) in an undisclosed location. ATFE (Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) agents regularly inspect the magazine as part of Borrell’s federal licensure.

Borrell has about 500 pounds of WW II surplus TNT to destroy.

Blasting the old TNT will occur on Borrell’s property about one-fourth mile east of Howard Lake’s city limits, and about 300 yards south of Highway 12. The minimum safe distance from the blast site is 215 feet.

Because the explosives will be buried a few feet into the ground, and because the blasting area sits in a low and wooded area, debris will not reach Highway 12, Borrell said.

“It’s such a small charge – nothing will come close to Highway 12. If anything, dust could blow near the highway if it’s a strong south wind, but if that happened I would stop,” Borrell said.

The blasting will only take place weather permitting. Twenty-five pounds of TNT will be exploded at a time in 20 to 30 minute intervals.

Blasting will begin around 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 15 and last throughout the day, weather permitting, as well as Sunday. During the following weekdays, intermittent blasting will take place in the evenings.

Depending upon how much is left by the following weekend, blasting may continue into that Saturday.

Those interested in viewing the blasts may be able to see dirt flying over the tree tops from Lions Park looking southeast or from Lake Road looking east.

Borrell was planning on blasting a pond on his private property sometime in the future, but with his recent instruction to rid his old surplus, the pond will become reality sooner than planned.

Borrell has been using explosives for a variety of things like ridding tree stumps, making ponds and ditches for farmers, and once in a while, blowing up beaver dams since 1966.

“The main thing that got me started was you could legally set off a stick of dynamite (back in those days), but cherry bombs were illegal,” Borrell said.

He explained that there were no regulations regarding buying and selling dynamite back then, only that the person who supplied the components deemed a buyer worthy or not of purchasing the supplies. For Borrell, that supplier was the late Leonard Dangers of Howard Lake.

A follow-up story to the blasting, complete with pictures, and stories about Dangers and Borrell will be in the Sept. 24 issue of the Herald Journal.

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