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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 00-940



[25 PA. CODE CHS. 210 AND 211]

Licensing of Blasters and Storage, Handling and Use of Explosives

[30 Pa.B. 2768]

   The Environmental Quality Board (Board) proposes to amend Chapters 210 (relating to blasters' licenses) to read as set forth in Annex A. The proposed amendments will rename these chapters and modernize and clarify the Department's blasting regulations. The proposed amendments to Chapter 210 will significantly improve the process and criteria for obtaining and retaining a blaster's license. The proposed amendments to Chapter 211 (relating to use, storage and handling of explosives in surface applications) are a comprehensive modernization of the standards and procedures for handling, storing and using explosives.

   This proposal was adopted by the Board at its meeting of March 21, 2000.

A.  Effective Date

   These amendments will go into effect upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin as final rulemaking.

B.  Contact Persons

   For further information contact J. Scott Roberts, Director, Bureau of Mining and Reclamation, P. O. Box 8461, Rachel Carson State Office Building, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8461, (717) 787-5103, or Marc Roda, Assistant Counsel, Bureau of Regulatory Counsel, P. O. Box 8646, Rachel Carson State Office Building, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8464, (717) 787-7060. Information regarding submitting comments on this proposal appears in Section I of this preamble. Persons with a disability may use the AT&T Relay Service by calling (800) 654-5984 (TDD users) or (800) 654-5988 (voice users). This proposal is available electronically through the Department of Environmental Protection (Department) Web site (

C.  Statutory Authority

   The proposed rulemaking is being made under the authority of:

   (1)  Sections 7 and 11 of the act of July 1, 1937 (P. L. 2681, No. 537) (73 P. S. §§ 157 and 161); section 3 of the act of July 10, 1957 (P. L. 685, No. 362) (73 P. S. § 166); and Reorganization Plan No. 8 of 1981 (71 P. S. § 751-35), which authorizes the Department to promulgate implementing regulations for the licensing of blasters and the use, storage and handling of explosives in most contexts other than mining.

   (2)  Section 2(f) of the act of May 18, 1937 (P. L. 654, No. 174) (43 P. S. § 25-2(f)); and Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1975 (71 P. S. § 751-22) which authorizes the promulgation of regulations addressing, inter alia, the use, handling and storage of explosives in underground noncoal mining.

   (3)  Section 4(b) of the Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Act (52 P. S. § 1396.4(b)) and section 11(e) of the Noncoal Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Act (52 P. S. § 3311(e)), which direct the Department to promulgate regulations concerning the handling and use of explosives at coal and noncoal surface mine sites as well as the licensing of blasters.

   (4)  Sections 1917-A and 1920-A(b) of The Administrative Code of 1929 (71 P. S. §§ 510-17 and 510-20(b)) which authorize the Board to adopt regulations to prevent the occurrence of a nuisance and to formulate, adopt and promulgate regulations that are necessary for the Department to perform its work.

D.  Background and Purpose

   This proposed regulatory package revises the current explosive regulatory program. The regulation of explosives presents a unique blend of health, safety and environmental concerns. This proposed rulemaking ensures that only qualified individuals are authorized to use explosives. It contains provisions for the safe storage of explosives, including standards for storage containers and structures and distances from railways, buildings and highways. Public and private buildings and structures will be protected from the adverse effects of blasting by limits placed on ground vibration and air-overpressure. Finally, safety procedures are established for the benefit of the general public, those working in blast areas and the blasters themselves.

   This proposed rulemaking will establish minimum standards for explosives used in all aboveground operations including coal and noncoal mining, construction and demolition. The proposed rulemaking does not apply to underground coal mining, or the use, handling or storage of explosives in underground noncoal mines. Currently, separate regulations exist for anthracite coal mining, bituminous coal mining and noncoal mining. To the extent that these separate regulations contain requirements that are comparable to, but less stringent than provisions in Chapter 211, they will be superseded by the more stringent provisions in Chapter 211. In addition to complying with Chapters 210 and 211, persons using explosives must comply with other applicable provisions of Pennsylvania law or implementing regulations. For example, persons planning to use explosives in the waters of this Commonwealth for engineering purposes must obtain a permit from the Fish Commission, 30 Pa.C.S. § 2906 (relating to permits for use of explosives).

   The Federal Government regulates some aspects of explosives. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) regulates the storage and interstate sale and purchase of explosives. The Office of Surface Mining (OSM) has the authority to regulate the use of explosives at coal mines, however, the Department has received a primary delegation of authority to regulate the use of explosives at coal mines. Finally, the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) regulates the transportation of explosives.

   The Mining and Reclamation Advisory Board (MRAB) was involved during the development of the proposed rulemaking. The regulatory changes were reviewed and discussed with the MRAB's Regulation, Legislation and Technical Committee on August 10, 1999. The Board recommended that the Board approve the amendments as proposed rulemaking at its meeting on October 21, 1999. During the meeting, the MRAB asked the Department to clarify two issues. The Department discussed these issues with the MRAB at its meeting on January 6, 2000. The MRAB first asked if seismic monitoring could occur between the blast location and the closest dwelling instead of at the closest dwelling. The Department explained that it normally requires monitoring at the structure to be protected, but in unusual cases the Department will allow monitoring at other locations. The other issue concerned a possible conflict with the mining requirements for analyzing seismic records. The Department explained that it intends to make appropriate revisions to the mining regulations once the Board has taken final action on this rulemaking. Following this discussion, the MRAB unanimously approved the proposed rulemaking.

E.  Summary of Regulatory Requirements

   The existing text in Chapters 210 and 211 is being deleted in its entirety. The proposed revisions rename these chapters which only contain new text. The following is a description of the proposed sections along with a brief discussion of the changes. Federal counterpart regulations are identified where they exist.

Chapter 210.  Blasters' Licenses

   Sections 210.1--210.6 are deleted in their entirety.

§  210.11.  Definitions.

   Section 210.11 defines the following terms: ''blaster,'' ''blaster learner,'' ''blaster's license'' and ''person.''

§ 210.12.  Scope.

   Section 210.12 provides that, Chapter 210 applies to persons responsible for blasting activities at surface coal mines, noncoal surface and underground mines, construction, demolition and other industrial applications.

§ 210.13.  General.

   Subsection (a) requires any person, which by definition is limited to natural persons, who detonates explosives to have a blaster's license. Subsection (b) gives the Department authority to waive this requirement for blasts involving extremely small amounts of explosives for industrial or research purposes. Subsection (c) requires a blaster to show his license when requested by specific authorities. Subsection (d) prohibits transfers of blaster licenses.

§ 210.14.  Eligibility requirements.

   Section 210.14 retains the existing qualifications for a blaster's license: The applicant must have 1 year of experience in preparing blasts; must take the Department's course on explosives; and must pass the licensing examination. In addition, the minimum age has been raised to 21 years. The United States Highway Administration requires operators who transport explosives to be at least 21 years old. The Department believes it is appropriate to adopt the Highway Administration's age requirement because the responsibilities of a blaster are more significant than those of a vehicle operator.

   Section 210.14 will, for the first time, prohibit the Department from issuing or renewing a blaster's license unless the person is of good moral character. Given the extremely dangerous capabilities of explosives, the Department believes that persons with proven violent tendencies should not be authorized to handle explosives. Further, a license will not be issued or renewed to a person who has demonstrated an unwillingness or lack of intention to comply with the Department's blasting regulations.

§ 210.15.  License application.

   Section 210.15 retains the current application requirements. The application must be on a form prepared by the Department, be complete, include a $50 fee and be submitted to the Department at least 2 weeks prior to the examination. The application must also include documentation of the applicant's experience including an assessment from the applicant's supervisor as to whether the applicant has sufficient experience in the type of blasting operations for which a license is being sought.

§ 210.16.  Examinations.

   The Department will continue to schedule and conduct the blaster license examinations. As under the current regulations, an applicant who misses the examination without prior notice and except for good cause, such as illness, forfeits the application fee. In lieu of refunding the fee, the Department may issue a credit for a future examination.

§ 210.17.  Issuance and renewal of licenses.

   Section 210.17 gives the Department the authority and responsibility for specifying the different types of blaster licenses. The general license no longer applies to blasting at demolition sites or underground noncoal mines. In the Department's experience, experience gained in other types of blasting does not sufficiently prepare an individual to blast at a demolition site or at an underground noncoal mine. The proposed rulemaking still requires compliance with all of the eligibility requirements if the license is to be amended to include another category of blasting.

   Under the proposed § 210.17, the blaster's license will be issued for 3 years rather than 1 year. In the Department's experience, requiring licenses to be renewed annually imposes unnecessary paperwork on blasters and the Department. The Department has adequate authority to suspend those few individuals who do not follow the applicable regulations.

   To renew a blaster's license, the proposed § 210.17 requires the applicant to obtain 8 hours of continuing education during the 3-year term of the license. This provision is designed to ensure that blasters remain current with the technology and regulations affecting their industry. Industry and the public have expressed their support for this proposal. The current fee for renewing a blaster's license is $10 per year. The fee for renewing this 3-year term license will be $30. Finally, the proposed § 210.17 will require a person who fails to renew a license within 1 year of its expiration date to requalify for that license.

§ 210.18.  Recognition of out-of-State blaster's license.

   This new provision will allow the Department to recognize another state's decision to license a blaster as proof of adequate training and experience. The basis for recognizing an out-of-State license will be whether the other state's program training and examination requirements are essentially equal to those required by these regulations.

§ 210.19.  Suspension, modification and revocation.

   This section describes the Department's authority to issue orders suspending, modifying or revoking a blaster's license. The proposed rulemaking allows the licensee an informal meeting to discuss the facts and issues related to the order.

Chapter 211.  Use, Storage and Handling of Explosives in Surface Applications

   This chapter establishes standards and procedures for permitting and performing blasting activities. For clarity, §§ 211.1--211.88 are deleted in their entirety, and new regulations begin with § 211.101. The proposed chapter is divided into eight subchapters.

Subchapter A.  General Provisions

§ 211.101.  Definitions.

   This section defines the key terms used in Chapter 211. Many of the terms have been modified from the existing regulations, several terms have been deleted and new terms have been added. The following is a summary of changes to this section:


   This is the airborne shock wave from an explosion. The proposed definition sets limits on airblast.

''Blast area''

   This is a new term for the area which must be cleared to prevent injury or damage to persons or property. This term has been added for clarity because the proposed rulemaking imposes certain obligations on blasting activity permittees and blasters to prevent injury and damage to persons or property in the area surrounding the blast site.


   The term ''licensed blaster'' was changed to ''blaster'' to eliminate redundancy. By definition, a person who is a blaster is licensed by the Department to be a blaster.


   The ''blaster-in-charge'' is a new term. It means the blaster responsible for ensuring that all aspects of a particular blast comply with the applicable standards in this chapter. Based on its experience, the Department believes it is necessary to have only one person in control of the blasting activities for the safe and proper performance of a blast.

''Blasting activity''

   This new term is defined broadly to include all aspects of preparing, performing and reporting on a blast. This term is added, because the Department believes it is necessary to require a permit for all blasting activities.

''Blast site''

   The blast site is the area where the blast is being set. This new term is defined for clarity because the proposed rulemaking establishes requirements for activities within the blast site.


   The definition for ''building'' has been broadened and simplified. Unnecessary and redundant language has been eliminated. A ''building'' is broadly defined to include all structures used by humans. It now includes buildings that are used in the manufacture of explosives and explosives components.

''Delay interval''

   This term has been reworded for clarity.

''Demolition activity''

   ''Demolition activity'' is the wrecking of a building or structure with explosives. The term is added because of provisions expressly addressing demolition activities.


   ''Detonator'' is broadly defined to be any device that uses an explosive to initiate an explosion. The term is added because the proposed rulemaking places unique requirements on the transportation of detonators.


   The proposed rulemaking continues to define ''explosive'' broadly. Almost any material that can cause an explosion or is used to ignite an explosion is an explosive. The definition has been modified to exempt from regulation explosive materials such as smokeless powder, commercially manufactured black powder and percussion caps used for sporting events or firearms.


   ''Flyrock'' is defined to be any material ejected from the blast site due to the force of the explosion.


   This definition has been simplified to include any structure used to store explosives.


   A misfire is an incomplete detonation of explosives.

''Particle velocity'' and ''Peak particle velocity''

   Particle velocity is the speed at which a particle of ground vibrates in response to a blast. Peak particle velocity is the maximum intensity of particle velocity. The terms are defined because of their use in § 211.151 (relating to prevention of damage).


   ''Purchase'' is defined as acquiring ownership of explosives. The definition is added for clarity.

''Sale or sell''

   ''Sale or sell'' is defined simply to be a transfer of ownership to another person. The definition is added for clarity.

''Scaled distance (Ds)''

   Scaled distance is a factor that relates the weight of explosives to distance, usually to the nearest protected structure. The term is defined because of its use in determining the potential for damage and the need for seismic monitoring.


   This new term is defined broadly as everything that is built or constructed. The prevention of damage provisions of this chapter are directed at structures.

''Utility lines''

   Generally, utility lines include pipelines, power lines, cables and transmission lines. This new definition is necessary for proper implementation of the provisions for protecting these facilities.

   The following terms are not retained in the proposed rulemaking because they are no longer used. These terms are: ''actual distance,'' ''approved,'' ''barricade,'' ''establishment,'' ''explosive plant,'' ''factory building,'' ''highway,'' ''railroad'' and ''vehicle.''

§ 211.102.  Scope.

   This chapter applies to the use, storage and handling of explosives in all contexts except underground mining. Even in the underground mining context, this chapter applies to the storage of explosives on the surface at an underground noncoal mine. Finally, any provision of this chapter that is more stringent than the comparable provision in the coal or noncoal surface mining blasting regulations supersedes and preempts that regulation.

§ 211.103.  Enforcement actions.

   As with all regulatory programs, the Department has the authority to issue orders necessary to enforce the implementing regulations. However, before issuing an order modifying the peak particle velocity or air blast limit in a permit, the permittee will be given an opportunity to discuss the proposed modifications with the Department.

Subchapter B.  Classification and Storage of Explosives

§ 211.111.  Scope.

   This subchapter establishes the standards and procedures for licensing and maintaining explosive storage magazines. It also specifies how explosives are to be classified.

§ 211.112.  Magazine license and fees.

   This section contains the existing requirements for licensing magazines as well as the fee structure. The key requirements include that no magazine may be constructed or modified until the Department has approved the license or proposed modification. The license will be valid for 1 year, will specify the types and quantities of explosives to be stored, and will contain such conditions as are necessary to ensure compliance with applicable statutes and this chapter.

§ 211.113.  Application contents.

   Except for a site map, the existing regulations do not specify what information is to be included in the application. Proposed § 211.113 specifies the information to be included in applications to obtain, renew or modify a magazine license. All applications must identify the applicant and contact person for the applicant as well as the types and quantities of explosives to be stored at the facility. In addition, applications to obtain or modify a license shall also include plans depicting the site and the magazine.

§ 211.114.  Displaying the license.

   This section contains the existing requirement that the magazine license or a legible copy of it be displayed at the magazine.

§ 211.115.  Standards for classifying and storing explosives and constructing, maintaining and siting magazines.

   The proposed rulemaking does not retain the existing classifications for explosives and standards for siting, constructing and maintaining explosive magazines. Instead, this section is proposed to incorporate by reference the United States Department of the Treasury's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' regulations found in 27 CFR Part 55, Subpart K (relating to commerce in explosives) (ATF regulations). The standards in the ATF regulations ensure that magazines are constructed, sited and maintained in a manner that protects the public's health, safety and welfare. Therefore, maintaining different and possibly more stringent standards for storing explosives than contained in the ATF regulations merely imposes additional costs on industry without providing any additional protections to the public.

   The ATF regulations establish five categories of explosives and specify standards for constructing a magazine to house each type of explosive. Siting criteria for each type of magazine ensures that the public is protected from harm if there is an explosion at the magazine. A variance provision allows the Department to approve magazines other than those specified in the regulations on a case-by-case basis. However, the proposed rulemaking does not incorporate by reference the variances issued by the Federal government under the ATF regulations. In the Department's experience many of the variances issued under the ATF regulations do not adequately protect the public from the hazards posed by storing explosives.

Subchapter C.  Permits

§ 211.121.  General requirements.

   The proposed § 211.121 retains the requirement that the purchase and sale of explosives must be authorized by a permit. The purchase and sale permits are primarily used for tracking the ownership of explosives. The Department proposes to directly regulate the use of explosives through a blasting activity permit. The requirement for a blasting activity permit will only affect the use and handling of explosives in the nonmining context. Surface mining permits will continue to regulate the use of explosives at surface mine sites. Finally, the purchase, sale and use of fireworks is not subject to the requirements of this chapter.

   To obtain a purchase, sale or blasting activity permit, the application must demonstrate that the proposed activity complies with this chapter. The Department will not issue a purchase, sale or blasting activity permit to a person who either is currently in violation of any provision of this chapter or a permit issued thereunder, or who has demonstrated an unwillingness or inability to properly perform the activities authorized by these permits.

§ 211.122.  Permits to sell explosives.

   Under the proposed § 211.122, the permit to sell is a tracking mechanism to identify who is selling what explosives in this Commonwealth. The sale permit will continue to be nontransferable, expire on April 30 of each year and be renewable. The proposed rulemaking requires the permit application to identify the applicant, the type of business, the types of explosives to be sold, whether the applicant is the manufacturer of the explosives, and if applicable, the license number of the magazine used to store the explosives.

§ 211.123.  Permits to purchase explosives.

   The proposed § 211.123 retains the requirement that the person who purchases explosives must have a purchase permit. Persons purchasing explosive services will no longer be required to obtain a purchase permit. In the Department's experience, the purchase permit is not an effective mechanism for tracking and controlling the use of explosives. As explained in the following, the new blasting activity permit will be the mechanism for regulating the use of explosives.

   The purchase permit application will no longer be required to identify all blasters working for the permittee. This information is now irrelevant because the permit is simply a mechanism for tracking and controlling who can purchase explosives. The application must identify the purchaser, a contact person, the location of storage magazine, the types and quantities of explosives purchased, and whether the explosives are being purchased for resale or use.

   As with the existing regulations, purchase permits are not transferable. In addition, they are effective for a maximum of 12 months, terminating on April 30. The proposed rulemaking will expressly allow persons to act under an expired permit, if a complete renewal application was submitted by April 30.

§ 211.124.  Blasting activity permits.

   The new blasting activity permit controls where and how blasting activities occur. The requirement for a permit is only new for blasting in nonmining operations. Blasting at coal and noncoal surface mines will continue to be authorized by the surface mining permit.

   At a minimum, the application for a blasting activity permit must identify the applicant, the types and quantities of explosives to be used, the purpose of the blasting activity, the location and timing of the blasts, the duration of the blasting activity, how monitoring will be conducted, and the blaster who prepared the application. The application should contain any other information necessary to demonstrate that the proposed activity will comply with the applicable requirements of this chapter. There is no fee for a blasting activity permit.

   Section 211.124 also imposes on blasting activity permittees two obligations not contained in the existing regulations. First, notice of the proposed blasting activity must be given to persons who could be affected by the proposed blasting activity. This was an issue raised by the Citizens Advisory Council and discussed at the meeting of the MRAB. This requirement is a result of that discussion. This provision will ensure that, just as with blasting at surface mines, persons who could be affected by blasting at nonmining operations are provided notice of that activity. Second, the blasting activity permittee must possess general third-party liability insurance of at least $300,000 per occurrence. Again, as in the surface mining context, this insurance requirement is necessary to ensure that damage due to blasting is corrected.

   The blasting activity permit is not transferable. It identifies who can operate under the permit and the types of explosives, the duration of the permit, and limits on peak particle velocity and air blasts. The permit will contain any other conditions the Department considers necessary to ensure compliance with the law.

§ 211.125.  Blasting activity permit-by-rule.

   The Department recognizes that a full blasting activity permit is not needed for small blasts. Further, the Department believes it is reasonable to give permit applicants the ability to continue their operation by conducting small-scale blasting while their permit application is pending. Therefore, this proposal establishes a permit-by-rule (PBR) for small blasting activities.

   To be small enough to qualify for this PBR the blast must have a scale distance of at least 90, not use more than 15 pounds (6.81 kilograms) of explosives per delay interval of less than 8 milliseconds, and must not use more than 150 pounds per blast (68.18 kilograms). The permittee must notify the Department before blasting activity can occur. Notices can be given orally, but they must be confirmed in writing. The information in the notice will identify the permittee and the activity for the Department to ensure that it does not pose a risk of damage to people or property. Finally, the Department can revoke a PBR if the permittee fails to comply with the applicable regulations or the blasting activity proves to be sufficiently dangerous to warrant an individual permit.

Subchapter D.  Records of Disposition of Explosives

   The proposed rulemaking in this subchapter specifies the recordkeeping requirements applicable to sales, purchase and blasting activity permittees. This chapter no longer contains the requirement that a competent person maintain a daily inventory of all explosives used or received in the field. The existing language is unclear and creates an unnecessary and ambiguous obligation.

§ 211.131.  Sales records.

   Section 211.131 retains the requirement that the seller maintain a record of all sales of explosives. The retention time has been extended from 2 to 3 years to be consistent with other recordkeeping requirements of this chapter. The proposed § 211.131 simply requires the seller to identify the purchaser and the types of explosives sold. In the Department's experience, the existing requirement to identify the vehicle, the person picking up the explosives and that person's business is not relevant.

§ 211.132.  Purchase records.

   The proposed § 211.132 requires purchasers of explosives to keep a record of when they buy explosives and from whom. The record will assist in tracking the disposition and use of explosives.

§ 211.133.  Blast report.

   The proposed § 211.133 establishes a requirement to prepare a blast report to provide the Department with sufficient information to reconstruct the conditions and events surrounding a blast. This information is essential if the Department is to effectively investigate incidents at blast sites and damage complaints. To ensure the accuracy of these reports, the blaster-in-charge is responsible for the blast report. This is because the blaster-in-charge is responsible for ensuring that all aspects of the blast conform to this chapter. The time for retaining these reports is extended from 2 to 3 years. Broadly speaking, as with the existing regulations, the report must identify who did the blasting, where and when the blasting occurred, how the blast was designed and detonated, and where the monitoring was done.

   The time for generating and attaching the monitoring record to the blast plan is reduced from 30 to 7 days. This reduction in time will enable the Department to respond more quickly to complaints of blast damage. The proposed § 211.133 requires the use of modern monitoring instruments that generate reports data that do not have to be analyzed by a third party. However, some permittees may need some time to acquire these monitoring instruments. Therefore, the requirement that monitoring reports be attached within 7 days does not become effective until 3 years after this proposed rulemaking goes into effect. In the Department's opinion, the cost savings from not having to analyze monitoring reports outweighs the cost of acquiring new equipment.

Subchapter E.  Transportation of Explosives

§ 211.141.  General requirements.

   This proposed § 211.141 establishes the requirements for loading and holding explosives in vehicles. This proposal restates requirements in the current regulations. However, in the Department's experience, some of the transportation requirements in the existing regulations are unnecessary and have not been included in this proposal.

Subchapter F.  Blasting Activities

   This subchapter establishes the requirements for preparing and conducting a blast.

§ 211.151.  Prevention of damage.

   This proposed section retains the requirement that blasting be conducted so as not to cause flyrock or damage to real property not owned by the permittee. If damage to property or flyrock occurs, the Department must now be notified within 4 hours of the occurrence. This notification is necessary if the Department is to make an effective and timely investigation of the incident.

   Section 211.151(c) establishes limits on ground vibration. Currently, there are different standards for blasting at noncoal, bituminous and anthracite surface mines. The standards for bituminous surface coal mines are consistent with the comparable Federal standards for coal mining. In the Department's experience these standards do not adequately protect nearby buildings from damage by ground vibration. Consequently, the Department proposes the standard described as follows to ensure that blasting in any context will not cause damage to surrounding buildings.

   Blasts shall be performed and conducted to achieve either a scaled distance of 90 or meet the ground vibration limits (peak particle velocity) established in Figure 1 of § 211.151(c). Scaled distance is derived from the amount of explosives and distance to the nearest structure. A higher scaled distance will have less effect on adjacent structures. A scaled distance of 90 is more restrictive than counterpart Federal regulations for coal mining and will require operators to conduct more monitoring. This higher scaled distance will ensure that the blast will meet the lower allowable vibration limit in Figure 1 of § 211.151(c) and will not cause damage.

   Figure 1, § 211.151(c), establishes a variable ground vibration limit. This limit is based on frequency. The former United States Bureau of Mines (BOM), in Report of Investigation 8507, recommended this method to regulate blast vibration. According to the BOM, if ground vibration is below this limit, there is essentially no probability of damage to structures located near the blasts.

   Section 211.151(d) establishes an airblast limit for blasts. Airblast, if high enough, can break windows. Prior to this proposal, airblast limits applied only to mining operations. This regulation uses the proven regulation of airblasts in mining operations and establishes a Statewide limit for all blasting operations.

   If necessary, the Department can establish a more stringent peak particle velocity or scaled distance limit or airblast limit. This change in limits would be based upon site-specific factors such as the population density, age of structures and geology of the area.

§ 211.152.  Control of noxious gases.

   This new provision results from several reported occurrences of gases from construction blasting migrating through the soil and bedrock to nearby homes.

§ 211.153.  General requirements for handling explosives.

   This section deals with the safe handling of explosives to prevent accidental detonation. It restates the existing requirements.

§ 211.154.  Preparing the blast.

   This section contains many provisions from the current regulations. It also adds the requirement that the blasting activity permittee designate a blaster-in-charge.

§ 211.155.  Preblast measures.

   A standard warning signal is being proposed for blasting operations. Warning signals have been required for all blasting operations, but there has never been any standardization of these signals. This has been confusing for individuals who visit many different operations. A warning signal in one operation could be the all-clear signal for another operation. Standardized signals will make all operations safer.

§ 211.156.  Detonating the blast.

   This section adds a new requirement that allows only the blaster-in-charge to detonate a blast.

§ 211.157.  Postblast measures.

   A standardized all-clear signal is being proposed in this section. Standardized all-clear signals will ensure that all persons working on a blasting operation will know that a blast has been detonated and it is safe to resume other activities.

§ 211.158.  Mudcapping.

   This provision is a carry-over from the current regulations.

§ 211.159.  Electric detonation.

   This section proposes to require blasting machines, which provide the electric power for detonation, to have a sticker showing that they have been properly tested.

§ 211.160.  Nonelectric detonation.

   This is a new provision. It requires nonelectric initiation or detonation systems to be checked for proper installation.

§ 211.161.  Detonating cords.

   The requirements for the safe use of detonating cord have been rewritten to clarify the language dealing with how detonating must be used.

§ 211.162.  Safety fuse.

   The requirements for the safe handling of safety fuses have been rewritten to clarify the language dealing with testing the rate at which fuse burns.

Subchapter G.  Requirements for Monitoring

§ 211.171.  General provisions for monitoring.

   This regulation proposes trigger levels for automated seismographs. The purpose of a seismograph is to ensure that vibration and airblast are below the compliance limits. Therefore, this regulation establishes a ground vibration trigger level at 50% of the compliance option.

§ 211.172.  Monitoring instruments.

   The standards for seismographs have been updated. The standards for calibrating instruments have been expanded.

§ 211.173.  Monitoring records.

   Seismographs are used to monitor and record the effects of blasts. Given the importance of this information, this proposal requires that a competent individual train those who operate seismographs.

   Subsection (b) identifies the acceptable methods for determining the frequency component of a ground vibration waveform. The frequency component of a waveform is a factor in regulatory compliance. The methods most commonly used to determine frequency in blasting are called the ''half-cycle zero crossing analysis'' and the ''single degree of freedom response spectrum.'' Therefore, these methods have been proposed in this rulemaking.

   Because this regulation establishes a vibration limit based on frequency, a particle velocity versus frequency plot is needed to determine compliance. Therefore, subsection (b)(6) includes a plot as part of the monitoring requirements.

Subchapter H.  Blasting Activities Near Utility Lines

§ 211.181.  Scope.

   This new subchapter contains standards for blasting near underground utility lines.

§ 211.182.  General provisions.

   This new section requires blasts near utility lines to be designed to minimize vibration and ground movement. The section also sets standards for the diameter and depth of blast holes and for the types of explosives.

F.  Benefits, Costs and Compliance

   Executive Order 1996-1 requires a cost and benefit analysis of the proposed rulemaking.


   The proposed changes are designed to modernize an outdated explosives regulatory program. The explosives industry will benefit because current products and technologies are addressed in a manner that is consistent with their current use. Citizens will benefit because this proposal establishes limits on ground vibration and airblast that are designed to prevent damage to structures. In addition, annoyance from unexpected blasts will be reduced because the public will be notified prior to the commencement of most blasting operations. Additionally, the public and blasting industry will benefit from the continuing education that is required for renewing a blaster's license.

Compliance Costs

   The explosives industry will see an increase in the cost of compliance because of the requirement for continuing education for blasters. The new requirement for general liability insurance is not expected to create a significant increase in costs, since most blasting companies currently carry liability insurance. This proposed rulemaking requires more monitoring than previously required. However, because the records produced from the monitoring no longer require analysis or verification by an independent third party, cost savings will be realized. These savings can be used by the operator to purchase additional modern monitoring equipment that provides more information more quickly. There is no change to the current fee structure.

Compliance Assistance Plan

   The Department will provide written notification of these changes to licensed blasters in this Commonwealth. Outreach sessions are planned with the Pennsylvania chapters of the International Society of Explosive Engineers and various mining organizations. If requested, public meetings will be scheduled to share this information with concerned citizens, industry representatives or others.

Paperwork Requirements

   This proposal will result in a slight increase in paperwork. Licensed blasters will be required to document their continuing education. The new blasting activity permit will require a new application form. Additional information will be required in the postblast report.

G.  Sunset Review

   This proposed rulemaking will be reviewed in accordance with the sunset review schedule published by the Department to determine whether the regulation effectively fulfills the goals for which it was intended.

H.  Regulatory Review

   Under section 5(a) of the Regulatory Review Act (71 P. S. § 745.5(a)), on May 17, 2000, the Department submitted a copy of the proposed amendments to Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) and to the Chairpersons of the House and Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committees. In addition to submitting the proposed amendments, the Department has provided IRRC and the Committees with a copy of a detailed regulatory analysis form prepared by the Department in compliance with Executive Order 1996-1, ''Regulatory Review and Promulgation.'' A copy of this material is available to the public upon request.

   Under section 5(g) of the Regulatory Review Act, if IRRC has objections to any portion of the proposed amendments, it will notify the Department within 10 days of the close of the Committees' review period. The notification shall specify the regulatory review criteria that have not been met by the portion of the proposed amendments to which an objection is made. The Regulatory Review Act specifies detailed procedures for review, prior to final publication of the amendments, by the Department, the General Assembly and the Governor of objections raised.

I.  Public Comments

   Written Comments--Interested persons are invited to submit comments, suggestions or objections regarding the proposed rulemaking to the Environmental Quality Board, P. O. Box 8477, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8477 (express mail: Rachel Carson State Office Building, 15th Floor, 400 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101-2301). Comments submitted by facsimile will not be accepted. Comments, suggestions or objections must be received by the Board by August 2, 2000 (within 60 days of publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin). Interested persons may also submit a summary of their comments to the Board. The summary may not exceed one page in length and must also be received by August 2, 2000 (within 60 days following publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin). The one page summary will be provided to each member of the Board in the agenda packet distributed prior to the meeting at which the final-form regulations will be considered.

   Electronic Comments--Comments may be submitted electronically to the Board at and must also be received by the Board by August 2, 2000. A subject heading of the proposal and a return name and address must be included in each transmission. If an acknowledgment of electronic comments is not received by the sender within 2 working days, the comments should be retransmitted to ensure receipt.

J.  Public Hearings

   The Board will hold four public hearings for the purpose of accepting comments on this proposal. The hearings will be held at 1 p.m. as follows:

July 5, 2000Greensburg Four Points Sheraton
100 Sheraton Drive (Route 30 East)
Greensburg, PA
July 6, 2000Holiday Inn--Clarion
I-80 at Route 68
Clarion, PA
July 11, 2000Best Western--Exton Hotel
   and Conference Center
815 North Pottstown Pike (at
   Turnpike Exit 23)
Exton, PA
July 12, 2000Quality Hotel
100 South Centre Street
Pottsville, PA

   Persons wishing to present testimony at a hearing are requested to contact Joan Martin at the Environmental Quality Board, P. O. Box 8477, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8477, (717) 787-4526, at least 1 week in advance of the hearing to reserve a time to present testimony. Oral testimony is limited to 10 minutes for each witness. Witnesses are requested to submit three written copies of their oral testimony to the hearing chairperson at the hearing. Organizations are limited to designating one witness to present testimony on their behalf at each hearing.

   Persons in need of accommodations as provided for in the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 should contact Joan Martin directly at (717) 787-4526 or through the Pennsylvania AT&T Relay Service at (800) 654-5984 (TDD) to discuss how the Department may accommodate their needs.


   Fiscal Note:  7-349. No fiscal impact; (8) recommends adoption.

   (Editor's Note:  As part of this proposal, the Board is proposing to delete the existing text of Chapter 210, §§ 210.1--210.6, which appears at 25 Pa. Code pages 210-1--210-5, serial numbers (243459)--(243463).)

Annex A







210.14.Eligibility requirements.
210.15.License application.
210.17.Issuance and renewal of licenses.
210.18.Recognition of out-of-State blaster's license.
210.19.Suspension, modification and revocation.

§ 210.11.  Definitions.

   The following words and terms, when used in this chapter, have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

   Blaster--A person who is licensed by the Department under this chapter to detonate explosives and supervise blasting activities.

   Blaster learner--An individual who is learning to be a blaster and who participates in blasting activities under the direct supervision of a blaster.

   Blaster's license--A license to detonate explosives and supervise blasting activities issued by the Department under this chapter.

   Person--A natural person.

§ 210.12.  Scope.

   This chapter applies to persons engaging in the detonation of explosives within this Commonwealth. This chapter does not apply to persons authorized to detonate explosives or to supervise blasting activities under:

   (1)  The Pennsylvania Anthracite Coal Mine Act (52 P. S. §§ 70.101--70.1405).

   (2)  The Pennsylvania Bituminous Coal Mine Act (52 P. S. §§ 701-101--701-706).

§ 210.13.  General.

   (a)  A person may not detonate explosives or supervise blasting activities unless the person has obtained a blaster's license.

   (b)  The Department may exempt certain individuals from needing a blaster's license if the person is detonating extremely small amounts of explosives for industrial or research purposes. The Department will consider a written request for an exemption from the person seeking the exemption.

   (c)  A blaster upon request shall exhibit a blaster's license to the following:

   (1)  An authorized representative of the Department.

   (2)  The blaster's employer or an authorized representative of the employer.

   (3)  A police officer acting in the line of duty.

   (d)  A blaster's license is not transferable.

§ 210.14.  Eligibility requirements.

   (a)  To be eligible for a blaster's license, a person shall:

   (1)  Be 21 years of age or older.

   (2)  Have at least 1 year of experience as a blaster learner in preparing blasts in the classification for which a license is being sought.

   (3)  Have taken the Department's class on explosives. It is not necessary for a blaster to retake the class when adding an additional classification to a license.

   (4)  Have successfully passed the Department's examination for a blaster's license.

   (b)  The Department will not issue or renew a license unless the following conditions are met:

   (1)  The applicant is of good moral character.

   (2)  The applicant has demonstrated an inability or lack of intention to comply with the Department's regulations concerning blasting activities.

§ 210.15.  License application.

   (a)  The license application shall be on forms prepared by the Department and be accompanied by a check for $50 payable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The complete application shall be submitted to the Department at least 2 weeks prior to the examination.

   (b)  The license application shall include a signed notarized statement from the blaster who supervised the applicant, or the applicant's employer. The statement shall:

   (1)  Describe the applicant's experience in blasting. In particular, the statement shall describe in detail how the applicant assisted in the preparation of the blasts and for how long.

   (2)  State the author's opinion as to whether the applicant is competent to prepare and detonate blasts in the classification for which the license is being sought.

§ 210.16.  Examinations.

   (a)  The Department will conduct examinations for specific types of blasting, as specified in § 210.17(a) (relating to issuance and renewal of licenses).

   (b)  The Department will schedule and conduct examinations as needed.

   (c)  An applicant failing to appear for a scheduled examination forfeits the application fee unless the applicant provides written notice to the Department prior to the examination date or submits a valid medical excuse in writing.

   (d)  Refund of the fee or admittance to a subsequent examination without a reapplication fee will be at the discretion of the Department.

§ 210.17.  Issuance and renewal of licenses.

   (a)  A blaster's license is issued for a specific classification of blasting activities. The classifications will be determined by the Department and may include general blasting (which includes all classifications except demolition and underground noncoal mining), trenching and construction, seismic and pole line work, well perforation, surface mining, underground noncoal mining, industrial, limited and demolition.

   (b)  A person may apply to amend the blaster's license for other classifications by meeting the requirements of § 210.14 (relating to eligibility requirements) and by submitting a complete application.

   (c)  A blaster's license will be issued for 3 years.

   (d)  A blaster's license is renewable if the blaster can demonstrate that he has had 8 hours of continuing education in Department-approved courses related to blasting and safety within the 3-year period.

   (e)  The blaster's license may be renewed for a 3-year term by submitting a renewal application to the Department and a check for $30, payable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

   (f)  A person who intends to be a blaster and whose blaster's license was not renewed within 1 year of its expiration date shall apply for a new license under §§ 210.14--210.16 (relating to eligibility requirements; license application; and examinations).

§ 210.18.  Recognition of out-of-State blaster's license.

   (a)  The Department may license a person who holds a blaster's license or its equivalent in another state. The Department may issue the license if, in the opinion of the Department, that state's licensing program provides training on the use, storage and handling of explosives and an examination that is equivalent to the requirements of this chapter.

   (b)  A request for a license under this section shall be made in writing. Copies of the other state's explosives training and examination material and proof that the applicant holds a license in the other state shall be provided to the Department so that the Department can make a proper evaluation.

§ 210.19.  Suspension, modification and revocation.

   The Department may issue orders suspending, modifying or revoking a blaster's license. Before an order is issued, the Department will give the blaster an opportunity for an informal meeting to discuss the facts and issues that form the basis of the Department's determination to suspend, modify or revoke the license. The Department may suspend, modify or revoke a blaster's license for violations of this chapter and Chapter 211 (relating to use, storage and handling of explosives in surface applications).

   (Editor's Note:  As part of this proposal, the Board is proposing to delete the existing text of Chapter 211, §§ 211.1, 211.2, 211.31--211.44, 211.51--211.56, 211.61, 211.62, 211.71--211.76 and 211.81--211.88 which appears at 25 Pa. Code pages 211-1--211-38, serial numbers (243465)--(243502).)







§ 211.101.  Definitions.

   The following words and terms, when used in this chapter, have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

   Airblast--An airborne shock wave resulting from an explosion, also known as air overpressure, which may or may not be audible.

   Blast area--The area around the blast site that should be cleared to prevent injury to persons and damage to property.

   Blaster--An individual who is licensed by the Department under Chapter 210 (relating to blasters' licenses) to detonate explosives and supervise blasting activities.

   Blaster-in-charge--The blaster designated to have supervision and control over all blasting activities related to a blast.

   Blasting activity--The actions associated with the use of explosives from the time of delivery of explosives to a worksite until all postblast measures are taken, including priming, loading, stemming, wiring or connecting, detonating, and all necessary safety, notification and monitoring measures.

   Blast site--The area where the explosive charges are located.

   Building--A structure that is regularly occupied where people live, work or assemble.

   Charge weight--The weight in pounds of an explosive charge.

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