WV Mining Safety Officials Counting Down to Shelter Deadline

The West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety & Training reminded stakeholders June 4 that they had 210 days left to install shelters with refitted compressed gas cylinder valves.

The West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety & Training has posted a reminder memo telling mine operators they must install mine emergency shelters with refitted compressed gas cylinder valves and fittings by the end of this year.

The requirement stems from a January 2011 catastrophic failure of a gas cylinder that was attached to a shelter's breathable air system in an underground coal mine. Subsequent analysis indicated brass valves in this shelter were subject to cracking, and that all valves made for use on such shelters were subject to the same problem. West Virginia then issued requirements for operators to inspect their shelters' equipment and to prepare to install replacements.

Delaying the installation raises the risk of a catastrophic failure because a significant number of valves and fittings were found to be cracking after only three years of service, the agency warned.

All manufacturers are now shipping refit shelters, with some 200 already shipped. About 1,400 will be needed nationwide, and there is sufficient manufacturing capacity to meet that need, the latest memo states.

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