Blast causes damage at Harris House site

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BLASTING on the site of the new Harris House has stopped after an explosion caused damage to neighbouring properties and cars.

The contractor of the build, UBC Ltd, were excavating rock last week and encountered some unexpected ground conditions leading to small flying pieces of rock.

The excavation will continue using other methods and repair of the minor damages will be carried out by the Contractor.

A spokesperson for Comhairle nan eilean Siar, who are administering the build said: “In order to excavate rock on the site for the new Care Home in Tarbert, the Contractor chose to use blasting.  The Comhairle is satisfied that all the appropriate procedures were followed by the Contractor prior to blasting taking place.  There were several blasts required over a period of several days and, unfortunately, despite all necessary precautions being taken, one of the last blasts let loose some small flying pieces of rock, which caused some very minor damage to neighbouring properties and nearby cars.  This occurred due to unexpected ground conditions, and the contractor prepared a detailed report on the matter.   

“The Contractor has subsequently stopped all blasting and is proceeding with the remainder of the rock removal using other methods.”

The Comhairle say the overall progress of the works has not been adversely affected.

They added: “Health and safety on and around construction sites is of the highest importance and there is a continuous dialogue throughout the construction between the Technical Services Department, which is administering the building contract, and the Contractor.  This dialogue involves the Contractor advising Technical Services in advance of how they will carry out a specific task by submitting a suitably detailed “Method Statement”. 

“In this case, the Contractor was not allowed to start any work on site until they had submitted a suitably detailed method statement, describing how they would remove rock from the site, and ensure the safety of all site personnel, as well as people and property in the surrounding area.  As the proposed method of rock extraction involved blasting, the method statement included detailed descriptions of drilling, use of explosives, safety procedures, and warning procedures.  The contractor records all his drilling activity and carries out a detailed design of each blast, including how much explosive to use each time.”

The Comhairle awarded the £4.25million contract back in March and .the new care home is due to be completed in December 2012.

The finished development will be a 16 bedroom facility, which will also incorporate social work offices.