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Report - Coal mine gas and bad air underground, THE RISKS

Discussion in 'Mines and Quarries' started by dangerous dave, Jul 23, 2013.

  1. dangerous dave

    dangerous dave 28DL Full Member
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    Thanks to Dangerous Dave for this information, although this refers mainly to coal mines it is applicable to anyone thinking of entering any mine or underground space, as we all know that we are our own safety officer and should be aware.

    Most of the mines being explored are based on the adit system, this can have an upcast and downcast slope if one is blocked or capped that will limit the flow of air round the workings. Some mines worked on the single adit and forced air principle to keep the dust and gas under control, and after the air system has been shut off this will allow the gas to build up around sumps and the stalls. The other consideration is the effect of weather/atmospheric pressure on the amount of air being moved around the mine this can lead to bad air some days and other days it being fine.

    The main gases involved in mines are below bad plus the obvious low O2

    Fire-damp … is inflammable and consists chiefly of methane (marsh gas).
    Black-damp … extinguishes flame and causes death by suffocation It is composed of
    carbon dioxide and nitrogen. It is also known as stythe or choke-damp.
    White-damp … is a subtle and extremely poisonous gas, also known as carbon monoxide.
    After-damp … is the gas resulting from an explosion; it nearly always contains dangerous
    amounts of carbon monoxide.
    Stink-damp … or sulphuretted hydrogen, is hydrogen sulphide and is a very poisonous
    gas with a pungent smell of rotten eggs, but it is seldom found in dangerous quantities.

    All of the above will kill you very quickly if your not armed with a gas detector to give you a read out of the gas levels in the workings and allow you to escape.This is why pits had a deputy who's job it was to check the levels of the gas and O2 in the mine and keep an eye on the dust levels that are also inflammable.

    given the nature of pits some where classed as gassy and doing the research into the workings and before going down is advised as if the workings had a history of being gassy you are all ready aware of the nature of the mine and the risk of gas.
     
    #1 dangerous dave, Jul 23, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2013

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  2. Aditaddict

    Aditaddict 28DL Member
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  3. Aditaddict

    Aditaddict 28DL Member
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    Hi on the same note ,I was researching a local drift mine which closed some years back the first article on google was this
    I have been in a few old coal mines over the years , I have found areas with no air , but as yet never encountered gas, This brought home to me just how dangerous gas can be, and how little time you would have ,even if experienced, before it can kill you
    Please read it ,as it's shocking as well as informative

    http://www.historicbolton.yolasite.com/brackley-pit.php
     
  4. WHISKY ALPHA 03

    WHISKY ALPHA 03 28DL Full Member
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    Hi Additaddict!
    Not nitpicking,just for correctness,but you say you have found areas with no air,but never encountered gas.......???
    How did you get into a district with no air...but no gas?
    If there is Oxygen Depletion.....then that leaves an atmosphere comprised mainly of Nitrogen,with a percentage of Carbon Dioxide,[the result of the O2 Depletion!],even with no Methane[CH4],you were in an atmosphere of Blackdamp!!.....a deadly mix of Gases only by suffocation due to lack of Oxygen..
    O.K.! Now,let's not forget to mention that Gases are not the only Danger in ,not only old,but more recent mines,given the right conditions!
    I am thinking about wood pit props and planks that apparently LOOK o.k.,but when touched....you can poke your finger straight into the wood as if it were
    made of butter!
    This is due to excessive drying out of the timbers,and in the north-east of Northumberland mines,this was referred to as being "Dazed".
    The hidden danger here is that you might lean on a prop,or accidentally brush up against one,which looks o.k.,and is holding the roof up,then you find that it crumbles away,causing a fall of roof-stone!!
    I hope you never come across this,but be aware!!!
    How do I know?
    I was a coalminer from aged 15 years old,and worked in the wettest,roughest pits in the Country for nearly thirty years!
    Not a record,by any means,but enough to have gained vital knowledge of strata control,gases,water infiltration,igneous intrusions etc!
    Oh,and seven of those years was spent as an underground Deputy/Overman/Shotfirer/Gate-end Supervisor.
    I wish you all well on your explores,and would love to have had the health and time,to come along with you all,but it was the mines that buggaad me up such that I am very short of breath,bad knees,arthritis,haaf-deef....etc!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Cheers and good luck!
    I will enjoy reading all the posts!
    P.S . Also,Dangerous Dave says CO [Afterdamp],is the result of an explosion...correct,but it is also the result of an underground fire,which occured
    more frequently than explosions,which were never heard of,apart from shotfiring!....in the pits where I worked.....and they were quietly put out and never reported!![mostly spontaeneous combustion]
     
    rastapasta69, Boink and pirate like this.
  5. dweeb

    dweeb Super Moderator
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    I just think it's all very simple, the science is interesting but you don't need to know it.

    Don't go in a coal mine without a gas detector or a canary. Don't take contraband in with you. If you notice your short of breath, the gas detector is going off or the canary is not looking happy it's time to leave. Simple stuff that's always kept us alive!
     
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  6. WHISKY ALPHA 03

    WHISKY ALPHA 03 28DL Full Member
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    Aye dweeb!!
    Silly me!!
    Aam forgettin' ye are exploring,wi modern technology,aam thinking along the lines of wen aa worked in thi buggaas haaf a century ago!!
    We didn't have the Canaries,the Mines Rescue Teams had them when it was after the event for thi poor lads who didn't have any luxuries at all....no self-rescuers,no miner's safety lamps,and in the days of "naked light mines"....that was a gud excuse for the greedy Coal-owners to save investing,and make more profit.[of course we had bean-cans in the latter years,and thankfully,in the wet pits aa worked in...they were never needed]
    We had the electric caplamps of course,and we always had mine deputies,but aa can count on one hand hoo many deputies came in and asked ye ti put ya leets oot so he cud mek a gas test!!
    Cos wet pits were considered to be gas -free.........
    When I was on Deputy-work,I went into districts that had to be examined even though they closed thirty years before my time.....for ventilation purposes etc,and sometimes on a low glass,my glennie wud gaan oot within thi first twenty yards of the entrance,wi Blackdamp.
    When I fired a round of shots in a Blue Whin dyke,sometimes the rotten eggs came out ti meet yi......nine times oot of ten,tha wud be a cavity full of Quartz crystals on the walls,and loads of gleaming Pyrites...wi Acidic water teeming oot....hence the H2S.
    Noo that's aal o.k.education is a wonderful thing,and a wasn't meaning ti be a clivvor sod,telling ye i suck eggs,but modern devices like gas detectors etc,divven't educate yi aboot the state of the strata and the state of timbers that luk solid....just for the benefit of those who might be taking up the interest of exploring,and wish to learn.
    My own Son has been an Urb-ex-er,and extreme Photographer for years,and I have gone down old Lead,and Fluospar mines,and been freaked out at the state of some of them!
    Some of these people are just going in as newbies,with no experience of mining at all,and that's the sort of people who concern me.
    If I can lend a bit of experienced advice free,to anybody,I would hope it will be of some help to some.
    Cheers!
    Keep posting gud stuff!
     
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  7. WHISKY ALPHA 03

    WHISKY ALPHA 03 28DL Full Member
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    Being an Animal and Bird - lover also,aam thinking if ye are still depending on Canaries in this day and age..............no.....ye canna carry a canary cage through an 18-inch high seam working,that has probably had a lot o' layin'on owa thi yeors.....bad enough just howking yase'll through nivvor mind owt else!!!
    Silly me..........!!
     
  8. dweeb

    dweeb Super Moderator
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    [​IMG]

    This was my Canary, "Scargill". I had him for about two - three years until he died of old age, not lack of oxygen! He went underground in a few mines. At the end of the day a 4 gas is an epic bit of kit, but a canary's respiratory system doesn't lie, hence why mines rescue still use them to this day.
     
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  9. WHISKY ALPHA 03

    WHISKY ALPHA 03 28DL Full Member
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    Heh heh! Scargil! I like it!
    Lovely little bird,bet you were upset when you lost him.
    Reading on the forums on this subject,there seems to be a wee bit of a misunderstanding...as you will well know.....
    .....you didn't wait till your little feathered life-saver friend keeled over and died......![everyone seems to think that way!!]
    The old-timer's and Rescue teams would have had to tek a trailer full of Canaries doon with them!
    If he started to get agitated and sqwark on,instead of singing,and kept fluttering his wings in an effort to take to flight,it was time you made a safe
    ....not fast..[as in trying to run!]....retreat!
    People are making comments on the basis that they have "been down there mate"......!
    The last thing you ever do if you find a large quantity of Blackdamp, or any gas!,is to hurry,for three reasons.
    1] You risk swirling the gas up to face level and mixing it into the general body of the air..and breathing it in.
    2]You risk tripping over and falling into the unseen pond ....usually knocking your helmet and lamp off,and probably losing your bird or putting your Glennie flame out.
    3]You only succeed in increasing your heart rate,making you breathe faster,and depleting your energy levels,while also risking breathing the gas in if it has swirled up.
    Again mate,I 'm only thinking of people who might visit who are not experienced Mine-explorers looking for info on the subject.
    I've been amongst all the gases mentioned,and am quite well experienced in mining..[30 years is a canny stint,in very low wet seams..but also high dusty dry and warm seams.]
    Nearly all the fires I encountered and put out were caused by Spontaneous Combustion,with the exception of a few caused by timber props or hardwood chocks being trapped in the conveyor belt bottom rollers..[classic!!],and hidden by piles of coal dust...friction heat.
    Interestingly,dweeb,we were building a new prototype machine in a long dead-end heading,[Gathering-arm MC3 loader with a hydraulic drilling rig mounted overhead].
    It was in the Three/Quarter seam,at Bates pit in the late 1970's/early '80's.
    The conveyor we loaded onto,was about one hundred yards long,and it transferred the coal/stone onto the Main belt at the junction.
    The water/slurry was up past the tops of our long wellies..[it was a really wet seam,miles out under the North Sea.]
    The whole length of the main road was knee deep in black slurry,with coal being washed off the belts day after day.
    Our ventilation was via a flexible exhaust ducting.
    This day,all the gaffers were in,watching the fitters and sparkies,and us three development men building this machine up,and waving their torchy heads aroond,as usual,blinding us!!!
    Nobody but me noticed the air getting a bit hot and smoky-looking.
    After a short while[only minutes,]I suggested that the gaffers should go and see what was causing the reek.
    They were all intent on getting this new machine up and running,that they made the suggestion that it was probably just a conveyor belt slipping as usual,and drying the driving drums out....which was toxic!!
    I said to hell with this,and went outbye myself,and as I approached the gearhead transfer point, I saw and smelt coal fire smoke billowing out from beneath the black sea of slurry at the boxend of the main belt.
    I grabbed a shovel and turned the slurry up where it had turned light grey,[drying out!],and as I did so,a ball of flames shot out from under the water.
    At once the air turned white and hot...and mind....THAT brought all the gaffers out to see what was going on!
    I found a chock fast in the plough on the bottom belt after stopping the belts and letting things cool down,and when we had the fire under control
    and eventually put out,the gaffers got some cocoa from me and my Marra's,and they were all red-faced and sheepish-looking!!
    We all said nowt at all to anybody,it was never reported,like bad detonators never got reported either,got it causes a lot of grief for Management!!
    First underwater fire I ever saw,then it often happened on a smaller scale.
    Lynemouth pit up here in Northumberland,was closed in the 1960's,because the whole seam was out of control on fire,and they had to seal the district off.Even now,folk are still apprehensive that it may still be burning,even though it is miles out under the North Sea.
    Hope I haven't bored you,just thought it might interest you.
    Keep exploring for thi likes of me,cos I am now knackered!
    It's gud ti read these forums,even though it wasn' much fun working down there at midnight...when ivry bugga else was in bed!
     
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