Mission Gorge quarry has neighbors living in the blast zone - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Mission Gorge quarry has neighbors living in the blast zone

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Imagine living next to a quarry with blasting, dust and noise invading your neighborhood.

People in Mission Gorge and Tierrasanta don't have to imagine.

At the Superior Ready Mix quarry on Mission Gorge Rd. there is dust, noise from rock crushers and about once a week, blasting.

A quarry subcontractor standing on a ridge in Tierrasanta videotaped one such blast in August 2014. The video shows the explosion and then the contractor running away as rocks fly overhead.

Four homes were damaged when rocks flew through stucco walls, shattered windows and damaged an iron fence.

Nobody was injured but families were inside the homes at the time of the blast, according to a Mine Safety and Health Administration investigation.

“That hole that was left inside the house, a child could crawl through that hole,” said Josh Lahaye, a Tierrasanta neighbor.

In August, Lahaye invited CBS News 8 cameras into his house so we could see and hear for ourselves what it was like during a blast.

“Every time that happens it scares the hell out of me,” said Lahaye, referring to the rumbling noise.

“It catches you completely off guard. Right away, you think earthquake; like I’m going to slide off the hillside,” he said.

The Superior Ready Mix quarry has been operating at the Mission Gorge location for decades but what’s changed over years is that residential development now surrounds the 132-acre site.

“They start at 7am. They make noise all day, all afternoon,” said neighbor Steve Hermans, who lives next to the quarry with his family.

“I wipe my hand on the counter top, it comes away with the green dust; same with the bedrooms,” said Hermans.

About a year ago, Hermans started videotaping the weekly blasts over his backyard fence.

“They detonate it and you can watch the whole thing blow up,” he said.

“I don’t know what a small person like me could do to stop a big company like that from exploiting their own resources on their own land,” Hermans said.

Superior Ready Mix has permits to operate the quarry until 2033.

Records show the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District has received about 20 complaints about the quarry’s operations over the past two years, most concerning dust and odor issues.

In 2009, the company filed plans with the city to close down the quarry and build more than 2,000 homes on the site.

City officials said that development plan is now inactive, although Superior Ready Mix told us it is in the process of revising the so-called RiverPark at Mission Gorge plan.

Superior Ready Mix declined to be interviewed on camera. Instead, the company’s attorney, Arnold Veldkamp, emailed us the following statement:

Superior Ready Mix is a little perplexed about why the operation of the quarry is newsworthy. There have been very few complaints from neighbors recently. We understand that the quarry is not the most desirable neighbor, but the quarry has been in existence since the 1930’s, supplying much needed aggregate products to the San Diego region. There is a severe shortage of aggregates in the San Diego region (see attached). The rock from the quarry is used to make concrete and asphalt, and a division of Superior Ready Mix, SRM Contracting & Paving, has had numerous contracts with the City of San Diego and others for the resurfacing and repair of city streets.

Homes have since been built around the quarry and Superior Ready Mix stays in contact with the neighbors and will do its best to alleviate neighbor concerns.

The 2014 event in which some homes were damaged was fortunately an isolated event that had not occurred previously and Superior has taken steps to make sure it does not occur again.

Superior Ready Mix operates the quarry in compliance with all applicable regulatory requirements set by the City, the State and the Air Pollution Control District. Blasting is done approximately once a week and is monitored by an outside consultant to ensure that ground motion stays well below the thresholds set by the federal government.

Superior Ready Mix is in the process of redesigning a plan for the redevelopment of the property.

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