Thursday, September 6, 2007

Coal Mine Fire Extinguishment

Coal Mine Fire Extinguishment

The technology for extinguishing coal mine fires using Nitrogen enhanced foam is relatively new. It's been within the last 25 years that this method was developed and patented by my business partner. We've proven the use of this method for coal mine fire extinguishment by putting out several coal mine fires. We have published several papers regarding this.
We got started by being invited by the U.S. Bureau of Mines, to put out a couple of underground mine fires. (now OSMRE, Office of Surface Mines Reclamation and Enforcement.) We successfully extinguished 4 test fires in 4 separate historical mines for the US Bureau of Mines, using our Compressed Air Foam System, (CAFS), starting about 1982.

The deepest fires are not beyond the range of single joint drilling rigs. Coal seams are normally between 200 and 5,000 feet deep. We can reach ANY of them with our CAFS injection process. Our Pinnacle Mine fire was just 3,000'ft below the surface.

The extinguishment of the mine fires of today are usually paid for by the mining company insurance. The historical mine fires will be paid for by the government agencies, via the Coal Mine Reclamation Act, that currently has over 1.3 Billion dollars and collects fees from every ton of coal produced, for this purpose.

Our gas of choice for extinguishment is Nitrogen. Nitrogen is inert, cost effective, and readily available, for onsite generation. CO2 gas creates carbonic acid in contact with water which contributes to mine water pollution. This is why we prefer Nitrogen which produces no harmful byproducts. (We use our CAFS foam to control the combustion gasses which are primarily CO2 which helps us extinguish the fire.)

My business partner's father, Phil Cummins, invented the GAG Jet engine method, while employed by General Dynamics, Fort Worth, TX , division and applied to a coal mine test fire in Kentucky , where it was determined to produce too much Carbonic Acid as a pollutant and created too destructive of an environment for any mining machinery involved. The GAG Jet Engine creates more problems than it solves.

People have asked us about using oxygen starving explosives in relation to these types of fires. This was an exciting project for open air oil well fires. If this method is used in a coal mine, the first explosion kicks up an explosive mixture of coal dust, and creates a positive pressure that will pull in fresh oxygen, which can cause more explosions that can revert back into a fire, creating additional explosions, open new coal seams, starting additional new fires. This can destroy the entire mine.

Currently we are at a coal mine in Virginia. We've have successfully aided in the plan for re-entry. To date, we have pumped over 487 million gallons of 'Nitrogen enhanced finished foam'.
Situation Continues to Improve at Buchanan Mine

Re-entry Plan Expected to be Filed after Labor Day PITTSBURGH, Aug. 29 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Air monitoring at the Buchanan Mine near Mavisdale, Virginia, continues to show an overall improvement in the underground mine atmosphere.

There are now 93 established monitoring stations that are measuring gas levels in the mine. Overall levels of carbon monoxide continue to decline, indicating that there is no active combustion in the mine. In addition, cameras inserted in several bore holes showed no smoke or signs of combustion in the mine and temperature readings from boreholes indicate the mine temperatures are at ambient levels.

Nitrogen gas and nitrogen foam are being pumped into a number of bore holes following a plan that is progressively forcing any carbon monoxide accumulated in previously mined areas into the flow of the active ventilation, causing the carbon monoxide to be swept from the mine.

Based on the accumulated trend data for gas being monitored, the company expects to submit a re-entry plan to the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration and to the Commonwealth of Virginia following the Labor Day holiday. Once agency approval is secured, teams can re-enter the mine to inspect working areas and to repair the ventilation system. The company believes that minimal repair work will be needed. Under this scenario, the company anticipates the mine will be able to resume production in early October.

The mine continues to be ventilated. Coal that was available from inventory has now been shipped and customers have been advised that a force majeure event has occurred. There are no employees underground at the present time.

Production at the mine was idled on Monday, July 9, 2007 after several roof falls in previously mined areas, damaged some of the ventilation controls inside the mine, requiring a general evacuation of the mine by employees. No one was injured during the evacuation.
The difficulties we've run into are that many people are just not aware of the number of historical coal mine fires that have been burning in the US since before 1977, or if they do know they have a lackadaisical attitude about these types of fires, and their CO2 emissions.
It hasn't been until now, that the world has started understanding the damages the CO2 can cause the environment. Integrating the CAFS technology is a painstakingly slow process.
Political Red Tape aside, we need help in moving forward to extinguish these types of fires. Unfortunately, Centralia, PA, is a sad reminder of what can happen if a mine fire is let to continually burn.
Centralia can be reclaimed.

Let's not loose another one of our towns/cities and let another Centralia, PA mine fire happen again