In December 2014 the mountains above North Vancouver reverberated with a series deafening crashes as part of the side of Seymour Mountain fell away, depositing 50,000 cubic metres of rock into the Seymour River. The slide effectively dammed the river and immediately created a six metre deep lake where there once had been none. Nearby hiking trails were flooded and bridges washed out.

Most damaging of all, the slide made the river impassable for the thousands of Steelhead and Coho salmon who were straining to reach their spawning grounds further upriver. Creatures of instinct, if the salmon could not reach their spawning grounds they would not reproduce at all, leading to the extirpation of the entire branch of salmon that originated from the Seymour River.

While volunteers from the Seymour Salmonid Society laboriously caught the salmon at the bottom of the slide and trucked them past it, the government sought a more permanent solution. They came to Apex Equipment with their challenge: demolish the boulders blocking the river, some as big as a two storey house, and do so in a way that did not further damage the sensitive river ecosystem.

Using explosives came with the risk of fly-rock and further environmental damage, while packing them into the remote area posed further safety issues. Apex Equipment has a huge inventory of equipment and access to all the latest rock-breaking technologies, and after CEO Dennis Wager appraised the job he knew exactly the tool that could be easily brought into this remote area and clear the slide safely, quickly, and in an environmentally friendly manner.

Nxburst are cartridges with a small charge that, when placed over a bore-hole in rock, release an enormous amount of inert gases, oxygen and nitrogen mostly, at tremendous force, causing the rocks to crack. They are extraordinarily powerful and can be counted on to break the toughest rocks, yet they are not explosives-they fall under the same hazard classification as fireworks- and are extremely safe.

Dealing with the Seymour slide had brought in six different governments, federal, provincial, regional, municipal and two First Nations, and all immediately approved of the Nxburst recommendation. Apex Equipment, cooperation with government and local environmental groups will begin using Nxburst to clear the slide this summer.

An Nxburst cartridge shown in a bore-hole.
An Nxburst cartridge shown in a bore-hole.

It will be a technically challenging job posing many safety and access issues, yet the large 60mm cartridges will prove themselves capable of smashing these rocks.

Watch the interview below to hear Dennis speak in more detail about just how he plans to go about demolishing the slide, and what other situations Nxburst has proven useful in the past.

We’re sure you’ll agree, for any demolition job where explosives won’t do, be it the inside of a building or an environmentally sensitive area, Nxburst is a tool you’ll find yourself coming back to.