Flyrock and Blasting Mat on the Nelson Property in Lowell

A blast from GMP’s wind site sent fly rock and part of a blasting mat onto the Nelson farm on Friday.  Contrary to what GMP told the Caledonian Record (see article below), fly rock landed on the neighboring property and fell right next to the campsite.  GMP has consistently given inaccurate information to the media about what is occurring on the mountain.  Earlier this week, GMP said no campers were present on two days when campers were indeed on the mountain, legally on the Nelson’s property.

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Wow!  There were 10 people on the mountain Friday. A blast occurred at 12:06 which sprayed rock onto Nelson’s property. There were at least 3-4 pieces of rock  3” in diameter that were discovered afterward and a 3-4 foot slice of tire from the blasting matt landed about 4 feet from the fire pit!

Ouch! That could have hurt.

Here is a quote from one camper.  “I did get to stand in a cloud of pebbles and dust during the noon blast and see the piece of blasting mat and the fly rock land in the campsite. Wow!”

Another camper reports:  “I was there yesterday during the noon blast, so I was upset to read that it was published that no fly rock landed on the Nelson’s property. I was there to witness the two big pieces of fly rock go shooting through the air and land just beyond the campsite.”

And here is summary of yesterday’s event from another camper;

“Yesterday’s events have made it abundantly clear why it is necessary to have people on the Mountain monitoring GMP’s actions—even if (or perhaps especially if) they are trying to force us away.  About ten people went up yesterday, however some of them were not read the temporary restraining order nor asked to leave.  Not that that matters much—it seems that the TRO does not have enough of a legal basis to be served by law enforcement, meaning that our monitoring presence continues to be legal.  Who would have thought that using one’s own land could be so fraught with peril and complexity?  I guess only people who live next to multinational corporate profit-grabbing neighbors.

“Our potential legal peril was extended to physical peril yesterday when the 12:06 blast launched fly-rock and a chunk of blast mat onto the Nelson’s property where our monitoring team was standing (some of them un-notified) at our campsite.  Many pieces of debris were heard filtering through the trees, and one camper felt a piece of rock whiz past her head.  The piece of blast mat (which was about 20” long, and 5” wide, and weighed roughly five pounds) landed directly in the middle of camp, near the fire pit.  After the blast, we conducted a brief search of the area, particularly looking for the rock which nearly missed the camper.  We able to find four pieces of fly-rock, which were about palm size, and a more through search would likely find more.  Fly rock was found 40’ past Nelson’sproperty line.  We left all of the fly-rock in its original landing sites, and marked the location of each piece of rock with stakes and surveyor tape. We also recorded the location of each rock with photographs triangulated off of landmarks, so that even if GMP were to trespass onto our property and remove the rock, we will have a record of its locations.”

“This event, where ordinary citizens must wear rock climbing helmets to be safe on private property, is a microcosm for what GMP is doing on a larger scale to the whole community – creating problems on their land which overflow onto the rights of others through detriment to our environment and waste of our tax dollars for an expensive, inefficient, and scientifically irrational project.”

Be sure to read the following story from the Caledonian Record….

Lowell Wind Protests Go On
Robin Smith
Staff WriterNEWPORT CITY — An Orleans Superior Court judge conducted a status conference by telephone Friday morning in the case of Green Mountain Power versus Don and Shirley Nelson of Lowell and protesters of the Lowell wind project.Judge Martin Maley spoke with attorneys for GMP and for the Nelsons, plus Orleans County Sheriff Kirk Martin and Captain Tim Clouatre, Vermont State Police Troop B commander.The status conference was an effort to resolve issues left hanging from Tuesday’s hearing about the judge’s temporary restraining order.Maley had issued an order intended to stop protesters from interfering with blasting by GMP contractors on the Lowell wind project site.The protesters have gathered daily, including Friday, to stand on ridgeline property owned by the Nelsons within a 1,000-foot blasting safety zone in hopes of stopping work on the wind project.However, Maley’s original restraining order did not provide the legal basis for local law enforcement officers to act to move or arrest anyone.GMP says the presence of the protesters will slow and limit blasting, costing time and money for the construction of 21 wind turbines on the ridgeline that were approved by state regulators.

Clouatre said Friday that he was part of the telephone hearing but he could not talk about what was said in the hearing or whether VSP had an attorney involved.The sheriff could not be reached for comment.The existing temporary restraining order expires Sunday. There is no blasting allowed on the weekends.Nothing was filed with the civil court clerks in Newport City by the judge as of closing time Friday afternoon.GMP is seeking a preliminary injunction, suing the Nelsons and others for slowing construction enough to possibly cost the utility and its ratepayers $47 million in federal income tax credits. The credits expire at the end of 2012. GMP said continued protests would push construction past that point but would not stop the project from continuing.Protesters say the project will harm the watershed of local rivers and damage the mountain environment.In response, the Nelsons are suing GMP for infringing on their property by needing to use part of the property as a blast safety zone.

On Friday, material from a scheduled blast did fly across the property line.

GMP spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure said that a blast was conducted. GMP officials or contractors warned the protesters to move outside the safety zone, she said.

Seven protesters remained in the zone but were encouraged to protect themselves by standing behind trees, she said.

No “fly-rock” from the blast landed outside the work area on the Lowell wind site property, she said. But a 1.5-foot by 2-foot section of blast matting, made of old rubber tires, flew across the property line, she said.

There was no damage to Nelson property and no one was hurt, she said. “The mat worked as designed in that no rock left the project site.”

A blogger at Lowell Mountain News online, the daily blog for the protesters, told a slightly different story:

“A call received from one of the hikers on the top:

“2 pieces of fly-rock landed about 50 feet onto the Nelsons’ property.

“1 piece of blasting mat about 15 feet onto the Nelsons’ property,” the blogger said.

The blog has followed the actions of the protesters, noting that they have not seen any law enforcement officer on the ridgeline to stop them since they began standing in the safety zone in earnest nearly every day this week.

“We are persistent!” the blog stated Thursday. “Apparently they were asked to obey the 1,000-foot restraining order, which they did not! But there were no police to enforce it!”

“Could it be that the police are confused about kicking people off private property? We can only hope! We Vermonters aren’t real keen on people telling us what we can and can’t do on our own [Nelsons’] property,” the blog states.

The Nelsons welcomed the protesters at first, helping them find the trail to the ridge and set up camp and even kept track of the protesters to make sure no one got hurt.

But once GMP sued, the Nelsons posted signs near their farmhouse in the valley below the ridgeline to the east. Don Nelson told the judge that he did not know most of the protesters.

A legal defense fund has been set up to help the Nelsons pay for their court costs, with donors asked to send money directly to the Nelsons’ attorneys in Norwich.

GMP offered to buy the Nelson property for the asking price of $1.25 million after the Nelsons wrote GMP to warn that protesters would occupying the blast safety zone. Then GMP sued the Nelsons.


2 comments on “Flyrock and Blasting Mat on the Nelson Property in Lowell

  1. Burke and bark says:

    I was on the mountain Friday afternoon to witness the debris (rock,tires) on Nelson property from the first blast. I experienced the earth moving beneath my feet for the second blast just before 2pm. I will continue to hike up as often as possible. Love these mountains!

  2. I am watching this from outside of Rochester, NY, on the shore of Lake Ontario, where we have been fighting offshore wind in our precious Great Lakes for 2 years. I am deeply saddened by the destruction of your majestic mountain, previous home to so many precious animals and other creatures. I am saddened by the future bloody slaughter of so many unsuspecting birds and bats once this debacle is completed, and I am saddened for all of you who must look at the hideousness of those filthy turbines for the remainder of your lives. All for what? An insignificant amount of intermittent energy for a very few. You and your mountain deserve better.

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