Mining Contract: Refuge Alternatives in Underground Coal Mines

This page is archived for historical purposes and is no longer being maintained or updated.
Contract # 200-2007-20276
Start Date 4/11/2007
End Date 2/20/2009
Research Concept

In response to the requirements of the MINER Act, NIOSH initiated this project to develop engineering guidelines associated with the location, construction, and general application of various refuge alternatives. The project goal is to facilitate the mining industry's rapid implementation of viable refuge concepts by addressing technical barriers or knowledge gaps that are hindering the rapid diffusion of refuge technologies throughout the underground coal mining industry.

Topic Areas

Contract Status & Impact

This contract is complete. To receive a copy of the final report, send a request to

Phase I: Initial results included a review and analysis of mining disasters from 1970 to 2006 with an emphasis on the role refuge stations would have had on the outcomes of the disasters (survival of trapped/escaping mine workers) if they had been available. In addition, refuge station design parameters were developed.

Phase II: A subset of mining disasters where refuge stations may have had a significant benefit were analyzed. The atmospheric management requirements for refuge stations were analyzed and detailed. Methane explosion blast pressure-time curves were used to provide specifications for blast resistance refuge stations. A cost comparison of alternative refuge stations was provided and two design concepts for bulkhead-based refuge stations were developed. Tools or matrices were developed for:

  • selecting a refuge station type, location, and size,
  • life support requirements,
  • general supplies and infrastructure, and
  • use of a Universal Refuge Bulkhead.

Phase III: A guidance document for the selection, installation, and provisioning of refuge stations was developed. The design and construction of a universal fixed bulkhead refuge station was also documented.

Page last reviewed: July 18, 2016
Page last updated: September 17, 2012