Blasting class teaches safety

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 31, 1999

Explosives have been a hot topic at St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge this week.

The refuge hosted three one-day binary explosives safety training courses for employees of the southeastern region of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. Keywords in this classroom incuded such things as ignitors, safety fuses, blasting caps, detonating cords and explosive charges.

Bill Nixon of Omni Distribution Inc., a company that manufactures and sells explosives, taught the refuge employees how to safely set explosives. His eight-hour workshop includes classroom instruction and field demonstrations in which students set their own explosives.

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“The last thing I want to do is send someone out to do their job and have them get hurt,” said St. Catherine Creek Refuge Manager Jim Hall, who also took the safety course.

Explosives are used to remove “any impedence to the natural water flow,” Hall said.

A common impedence is beaver dams, which can alter the circulation of the river, he said.

So once a dam is abandoned, refuge employees can use explosives to remove it, returning the water to its natural course. No beavers were hurt by the explosives.