The “blast’ that took place in the Hope Bay area north of Wiarton on Friday, December 13 is now solely in the hands of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry because that is the ministry responsible for quarry regulations, says a spokesperson for the other ministry initially involved in a joint investigation.
The Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks first got involved when a person called that ministry about “a loud and startling boom” at that date and time “that shook her house” for several seconds, said Gary Wheeler, a spokesperson at the Environment ministry, in an email Monday. It was sent as a reply to my request earlier that day for more information about the status of what had previously been described by another official as a “joint investigation” of the two ministries.
Wheeler said the caller wondered if what she had felt could have been caused by activities at one of several quarry or aggregate pit in the area.
“For your understanding, while the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, through the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) regulates noise / vibration, we do not regulate blasting,” Wheeler said in his email.
He added, “We reached out to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry as they are responsible for regulating quarry operations under the Aggregate Resources Act. We understand that MNRF is following up with the operator to determine if they are compliant with the terms of their licence.”
Many people on the central Bruce Peninsula, from Cape Croker to as far north as Lion’s Head, myself included, felt the effects of what Natural Resources Canada at first described as an earthquake measuring 2.1 on the Richter scale. But that federal agency soon changed the description to something more characteristic of the seismic signature of a quarry “blast.”
In a recent post on this blog I have written of hearing and feeling a roar and a rumbling lasting several seconds that shook my house here in Hope Ness, several kilometres north of Hope Bay. My first reaction was that part of my 125-year-old farmhouse had collapsed, or the nearby barn. I was also worried the apparent tremor might have damaged my well, as were many other people in the affected area.
Whatever the cause, the incident has stirred up considerable public interest especially on the peninsula. In addition to media reports, my initial post last week on the Finding Hope Ness blog, linked to Facebook, has picked up 500 hits, and still counting. That’s modest by global standards, but significant considering the relatively small population of the Bruce Peninsula.
Imagine what the reaction might be if something like this happened in or near the GTA.