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U.S. Department of Labor


Mine Safety and Health Administration
1100 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, Virginia 22209-3939

ISSUE DATE: December 9, 2010

PROGRAM INFORMATION BULLETIN NO. P10-21

FROM:             KEVIN G. STRICKLINKEVIN G. STRICKLIN
                       Administrator for
                       Coal Mine Safety and Health

                        JEFFERY H. KRAVITZ JEFFERY H. KRAVITZ
                        Acting Director of Technical Support Mine Safety and Health

SUBJECT:     Breathable Air, Air-Monitoring and Harmful Gas Removal
                    Components for Use in Refuge Alternatives Consisting of
                    15-psi Stoppings

Who needs this information?
This Program Information Bulletin (PIB) applies to operators of underground coal mines, miners’ representatives, Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) enforcement personnel, and other interested parties.

What is the purpose of this bulletin?
This Program Information Bulletin (PIB) provides information to the mining community on breathable air, air-monitoring, and harmful gas removal components that may be used with refuge alternatives consisting of 15-psi stoppings. This information is being provided since refuge alternatives consisting of materials prepositioned for miners to deploy in a secure space with an isolated atmosphere that MSHA has accepted in approved Emergency Response Plans (ERP) that were in use prior to March 2, 2009 are permitted only until December 31, 2010, or until replaced, whichever comes first.

Information
Until breathable air, air-monitoring, and harmful gas removal components approved by MSHA under Title 30 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R. ) Part 7 are commercially available for use with refuge alternatives consisting of 15-psi stoppings, mine operators may comply with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act (Mine Act) by:

  1. Using breathable air, air-monitoring, and harmful gas removal components that are grandfathered for use until December 31, 2013 under 30 C.F.R. § 75.1506(a)(3). These include breathable air, air-monitoring and harmful gas removal components that MSHA accepted in ERPs and that were in mines prior to March 2, 2009 for use with brattice cloth or other pre-positioned material for miners to deploy after an event to create a secure space with an isolated atmosphere. While brattice cloth or other pre-positioned material may not be used as the structural component of a refuge alternative after December 31, 2010, other components initially approved for use with brattice cloth or other pre-positioned material may be used until December 31, 2013 if approved for use in a 15-psi stopping refuge unit as part of a revised ERP. In reviewing the ERP, the District Manager will determine whether the components will maintain trapped individuals for a sustained period of time if used in conjunction with the 15-psi stopping unit specified in the revised ERP. The guidance document “Use of Non-Part 7 Approved Components with 15 psi Stoppings” is attached to this PIB to provide further information.
  2. Purchasing a packaged system designed for these applications from a manufacturer of State-approved prefabricated refuge alternatives having a rated capacity for persons that is equivalent to the capacity of the 15-psi stopping unit. While the breathable air, air-monitoring, and harmful gas removal components’ capacities should be at least equivalent to the capacities of corresponding components in the State-approved prefabricated units, purge air capacity should be sized to fit the dimensions of the 15-psi stopping unit, including the air lock system. The breathable air, air-monitoring and harmful gas removal components are subject to review and approval by the District Manager to assure that they are capable of maintaining individuals for a sustained period of time if used in conjunction with the 15-psi stopping unit specified in the revised ERP.
  3. Connecting a compressor or fan to an existing 15-psi stopping unit via a borehole or via horizontal, buried (or otherwise protected) line such that breathable air can be provided immediately after an event that may require miners to seek refuge. This system is subject to review and approval by the District Manager to assure that it is capable of maintaining individuals for a sustained period of time if used in conjunction with the 15-psi stopping unit specified in the revised ERP. While this option is available to any mine operator, MSHA recognizes that it may be most viable for new mines or existing mines establishing an additional working section.

What is the background for this PIB?
A number of mine operators have expressed an interest in using refuge alternatives consisting of 15-psi stoppings constructed prior to an event. These units must be used in conjunction with breathable air, air-monitoring and harmful gas removal components that have been approved for use pursuant to 30 C.F.R. Part 7 or that have been grandfathered for use until December 31, 2013. However, Part 7-approved breathable air, air-monitoring, and harmful gas removal components presently are not commercially available, and not every mine operator has access to grandfathered components.

An operator who wants to use 15-psi stoppings to provide refuge may design a plan for construction of the stoppings for a District Manager to consider during the ERP review process. See MSHA Program Policy Letter No. P09-V-14, 15 psi Stoppings as Structural Components for Refuge Alternatives (12/18/09). This PIB provides guidance for the use of 15-psi stopping refuge alternatives until December 31, 2013 and prior to the commercial availability of Part 7-approved components.

What is MSHA’s authority for this PIB?
Section 316 of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, as amended, 30 U.S.C.
§ 876; 30 C.F.R. §§ 75.1506 and 75.1507.

Is this PIB on the Internet?
This PIB may be viewed on the Internet by accessing the MSHA home page
(www.msha.gov ) then choosing “Compliance Info” and “Program Information
Bulletins. ”

Who is the MSHA contact person for this PIB?
Coal Mine Safety and Health, Division of Safety
Erik Sherer, (202) 693-9523
E-mail: sherer.hubert@dol.gov

Technical Support, Approval and Certification Center
Howard Epperly, (304) 547-2034
E-mail: epperly.howard@dol.gov

Who will receive this PIB?
MSHA Program Policy Manual Holders
Underground Coal Mine Operators
Coal Special Interest Groups

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