A 2017 attempt to increase the required distance between production blasting activities and currently or recently occupied structures failed to pass in the West Virginia legislature. House Bill 2087, introduced in February of 2017, proposed to amend and reenact §22-3-22a of the Code of West Virginia relating to blasting activities in order to prevent home damage from mine blasting in West Virginia.
The Current Law on Home Damage from Mine Blasting in West Virginia
West Virginia Code §22-3-22a protects against home and property damage from blasting in WV by prohibiting production blasting activities within 300 feet of an occupied dwelling, a temporarily unoccupied dwelling which has been occupied within the past ninety days, a public building, any structure used for commercial purposes, a school, a church, and a public park or a water well. The amendment in House Bill 2087 would have extended the distance from occupied dwellings or certain other structures in which surface mine production blasting may not occur, making it consistent with the distance a gas well drilling pad must be from an occupied dwelling. Specifically, the proposed change would have prohibited production blasting activities within 625 feet of the structures.
Additional Regulations on Home Damage from Mine Blasting in WV
Surface mining in West Virginia is extensively regulated, and mining activities must meet stringent standards to prevent damage from blasting in West Virginia. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulates surface blast mining through its Division of Mining and Reclamation (DMR).
Blasting is a part of surface mining, but mine operators are required to take steps to protect homeowners near mining operations from loss due to property damage. For example, mine operators must document the condition of structures within the vicinity of surface mining activities by conducting a pre-blast survey. The mine operator must notify all owners and occupants of dwellings within one-half mile of the blasting activity that the operator is going to conduct a pre-blast survey in order to document the condition of man-made structures within the zone. The pre-blast survey allows owners and occupants of protected structures to identify any potential property damage from mine blasting in West Virginia after the blasting has occurred.
Regulations on Damage from Blasting in WV are Based on Distance
West Virginia mining regulations protecting homeowners are based on the distance a structure is located from a blast and are designed to prevent cosmetic damage from blasting in WV to a structure. The requirements are not, however, designed to address alleged nuisance conditions or to prevent people from feeling the effects of blasting.
If you have questions regarding your rights or responsibilities related to home damage from mine blasting in West Virginia, you can reach the experienced attorneys at Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC by filling out a contact form or by calling 866.617.4736. With more than 90 years of legal experience Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC has the knowledge to help navigate the legal issues you are facing.