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Preventing Methane Gas Explosions During Tunnel Construction; Handbook For Methane Control In Mining
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    In This Chapter [Early indicators of a gas problem How the methane hazard is reduced Ventilation principles for gassy tunnels Monitoring for gas Eliminating ignition sources and The all-important human factors component] This chapter gives guidelines for preventing methane gas explosions during tunnel construction. Emphasis is placed on assessing the hazard potential, on ventilation principles, and on monitoring for gas. The chapter also emphasizes the importance of human factors in reducing explosion risk. Ensuring safe conditions is much more than just good engineering design. It also involves the every-day vigilance of those working underground. This does not imply that the engineering design can be ignored, only that the job of providing safe conditions has just begun with design. EARLY INDICATORS OF A GAS PROBLEM For the engineer planning a tunnel project, reliable early indicators of methane are scarce. How-ever, the local geology can often provide some information.2 Carbonaceous rocks and tar sands are a likely methane source. Gas is also a distinct possibility if it is known to be present else-where in the same sequence of geologic formations. Swampy areas, sewerage systems, and landfills are also candidates because the decomposition of organic materials produces methane. The gas in a tunnel can originate in the strata being excavated, or it can migrate a considerable distance from adjacent strata. Test borings at the project site can also serve as initial indicators of gas. Methane has no odor, but may be emitted along with gases that do. If gas is emitted from the borehole, a sample may be collected by inserting a tube into the hole as far as possible and pumping the gas out. The gas sample should be collected in a sampling bag or canister for later analysis by a chemical laboratory.3

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