Waiting game at Buchanan

THE AUSTRALIAN team flown over to fight the underground fire burning at Consol Energy's Buchanan mine in Virginia may be sent home if the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) decides to seal the mine for 100 days. A decision is expected today.
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QMRS GAG jet engine fights the Loveridge mine fire.

Angie Tomlinson

Queensland Mines Rescue Service (QMRS) state manager Wayne Hartley told International Longwall News if the 100-day order was placed on Buchanan the QMRS team would be sent back to Australia.

“I’ve given instructions that if the mine is sealed for 100 days, we are better off bringing our troops home rather than sitting there and waiting,” he said.

“MSHA take a very conservative view and a lot of the times it is a case of let’s batten down, seal it up and wait. This is a significant economic loss and cost to the company, the economy and the local environment.”

The QMRS team flew to the US late last week. So far the 10-man team has acclimatised for 48 hours, undertaken a risk assessment for inertisation and familiarised themselves with American GAG jet engines.

The QMRS team was called in by Consol Energy specifically for its GAG expertise. The GAG jet engine technology renders an underground mine atmosphere inert by eliminating oxygen through a release of carbon dioxide and water vapor into the mine.

The Buchanan fire started February 14 2005 after a goaf fall sparked a methane ignition and created a localised fire near the longwall. Employees working underground at the time were immediately evacuated (without serious injury), and mining suspended. The mine was sealed on February 16.