Cloud of lime dust shuts down construction work at Tractor Supply Co. site | TheUnion.com

Cloud of lime dust shuts down construction work at Tractor Supply Co. site

City officials shut down soil stabilization work at the Tractor Supply Company construction site Friday morning, in response to a giant plume of lime dust that blew across the road and rained down on neighboring businesses and vehicles.

Orion Kroeger, whose office sits across from the building site at 2391 Nevada City Highway, first noticed the billowing white cloud a little after 9 a.m.

"At first I thought it was steam," he said.

Then Kroeger saw the plume, which another neighbor estimated at 40 to 50 feet high, enveloping the mixer. Soon white dust was raining down on his parking lot, covering his car and even his sweatshirt.

"It went on for a good 10 minutes," Kroeger said.

Kroeger tried calling the county first, then went over to talk to the foreman on site; he did end up speaking to someone from the city of Grass Valley's building department, who assured him the operation was being shut down.

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"The crew immediately started street sweeping, but I still have a layer on my car and entire property," Kroeger said, questioning the safety record of the contractors on the site.

Grass Valley Associate Engineer Bjorn Jones confirmed the developer was applying lime in an "unsafe" fashion.

The lime treatment is intended to dry out the soil, to make it more workable, Jones said.

But the method being used to spread the lime was "a little extreme," he said. "An inspector arrived on site and immediately shut it down."

Lime dust can be an irritant to the skin and the mucus membranes of the eyes, mouth and lungs; inhaling lime dust may lead to irritation of breathing passages, coughing and sneezing. Those working with lime are advised to avoid contact with skin, use appropriate respirators and wash well after any exposure.

The company applying the lime was instructed to sweep up the "overage" that had fallen on the sidewalks and surrounding areas, Jones said.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

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