Meeting refuge laws

BY the end of April every US underground coal mine will be required to submit an updated Emergency Response Plan to the Mine Safety and Health Administration.
Meeting refuge laws Meeting refuge laws Meeting refuge laws Meeting refuge laws Meeting refuge laws

Inside MineARC's Coal-SAFE refuge chamber.

Angie Tomlinson

Published in the March 2009 Coal USA Magazine

Part of this plan will need to include a refuge chamber after MSHA published its final ruling on regulations covering the mandatory provision of refuge chambers on December 31 last year.

The new federal regulation, effective on March 2 this year, will supersede the current West Virginia Regulations which to date had been used as an industry benchmark.

Each mine will need to stipulate one of two types of approved refuge alternatives – pre-fabricated self contained units (portable chambers) or units with 15psi stoppings that are erected prior to an event in a secure space with an isolated atmosphere (permanent refuge chambers).

Under the new regulations, existing refuge models which fail to meet MSHA standards will be gradually phased out.

The new regulations state all coal refuge chambers must provide up to 96 hours of life support and be located within 1000ft of the closest working face. They must also be in outby areas if a portal or surface escape route cannot be reached within 30 minutes.

MSHA has also recognized internal cooling with regulations stating internal temperatures must not exceed 95F apparent temperature.

“With some mines in the US having ambient temperatures well above West Virginia mines, there exists an inherent risk of potentially fatal heat stress occurring in chambers without artificial cooling. This is exacerbated in mines with high humidity environments,” refuge chamber manufacturer MineARC Systems said.

“Therefore, under the new MSHA regulations, all refuge manufacturers must clearly state a safe operating temperature on all of their models, clearly stating the maximum mine air temperature that the refuge chamber can safely operate within.”

MineARC, which recently launched its approved Coal-SAFE refuge chamber, is already taking orders in West Virginia.

The company has built the chamber to meet both the existing West Virginia regulations and new MSHA regulations.

According to its manufacturers the Coal-SAFE unit boasts the world’s only intrinsically safe CO & CO2 Scrubbing System and integrated intrinsically safe air-conditioning system – patented technology that took more than two years of research and development to perfect.

“Thus far MineARC had delayed entry into the coal refuge chamber market, simply because we believed that up until now, the technology and regulations were insufficient to maintain the highest level of safety possible for all underground coal workers throughout the US. The new regulations are effectively a testament to that belief, and we welcome these final rulings from MSHA,” MineARC Systems Americas general manager James Rau said.

MineARC says it can deliver its chambers in less than eight weeks direct through its American unit or through distributers DPX Enterprises (West Coast) and Mine Lifeline (East Coast).

Most read Archive


Most read Archive