Neighborhood rocked by legal explosives

GOULDSBORO — No one has died or been physically injured. Nor has their property been damaged, but frequent, unpredictable booms of explosives have shattered the peace and shaken the homes of some Corea residents for over a year now. Corea is a village in Gouldsboro.

Tannerite is a brand of explosion kit, containing ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder, which is legal and marketed for target shooting. The kit’s separate components are mixed together, creating the explosive material. While nonflammable, the product emits a loud boom and vapor cloud when hit by a high-velocity bullet, according to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Gouldsboro does not have a noise ordinance.

Walter Bell was among several Corea residents who complained May 13 to selectmen about a property owner who has allowed hundreds of rounds of explosives to be fired on his land in just one or two hour periods on weekends and weekdays in the neighborhood comprising the Paul Bunyan, Peninsula and Grand Marsh roads. They also questioned how the frequent blasts are affecting Airbnb and HomeAway tenants and other vacationers’ visits in the seaside village. In Bell’s experience, such target shooting was confined to gravel pits — not residential neighborhoods.

“We always went to a gravel pit,” Bell recalled. He compared the loud explosions to anywhere from a quarter to a half stick of dynamite being detonated. “I could have my house shake all weekend and there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Corea property owner Stuart Workman also complained about the noise.

“I am fine with target-practice, myself, but this is getting out of hand,” he said, reporting that he had heard as many as 900 rounds at one time. “I think the thing is to ban Tannerite — not institute a noise ordinance. That’s too broad, I think.”

Another resident noted that Tannerite is just one in a variety of legal explosive targets. The product’s individual compounds, neither of which is explosive on their own, also may be legally purchased and mixed together. So banning one product won’t solve the problem.

Gouldsboro resident Ray Jones urged selectmen to study the persistent issue further before seeking to ban the use of legal explosives outright or institute a noise ordinance. “This not a new issue,” he pointed out.

Board Chairman Dana Rice said the excessive noise must stop and the time has come to take serious action. Last fall, Rice said he and former Gouldsboro Police Chief John Shively together had gone and spoken to the property owner after multiple citizen complaints. He said they were assured that the problem would cease.

Rice directed Town Manager Andrea Sirois to consult the Maine Municipal Association about how other Maine towns have dealt with the use of Tannerite and other legal explosives as well noise ordinances.

“This is a serious issue. It’s a damn shame that one person is causing so much grief in the town,” he lamented. “We will go forward and do something that has some teeth and be as fair as we can.”





Letitia Baldwin

Arts Editor at The Ellsworth American
In addition to editing the Arts & Leisure section, Letitia edits special sections including Out & About, Overview, Health Quarterly, Your Maine Home, House & Garden and Get Ready for Winter. She comes from Chicago, Ill, but has deep family ties to the Cranberry Isles. [email protected]