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Methane Detector Provides Insights into UBB Disaster

The Associated Press details, which was released on August 27 2010, mentioned that a handheld methane detecting device from the Upper Big Branch mine recorded the explosive methane level in the mine that lead to the disaster on April 5, 2010 and Massey Energy Company r released the complete details about the detector to the family members of UBB during a meeting which was conducted on August 2, 2010.

Massey added information on the handheld detector that wase traced after the disaster and was examined on July 8, 2010 by MSHA. Massey reported that the detectors constantly monitored the presence of carbon monoxide, methane and temperature and documented the peak readings of each parameter every l three minutes. The highest reading that can be recorded in the detector for methane is 5% and that for the carbon monoxide is 500 ppm. Methane is inflammable at a concentration exceeding 5% to 15% and elevated carbon monoxide level results due to incomplete explosion.

The documented data indicated that the methane and carbon monoxide detectors outbursted form zero to threshold readings surpassing the standard levels for methane (5%) and carbon monoxide (500 ppm) within three minutes around 3 PM on the day of explosion.

The detectors are also equipped with warning alarms which could record the alarm once in every 15 seconds with a low range alarm at 35 ppm carbon monoxide and 5% methane and a high range warning system at 100 ppm carbon monoxide and 1% methane while an over range alarm gets stimulated at 500 ppm carbon monoxide and 5% methane.

Upon examination of the two detectors it was estimated that a detector in the longwall surface indicated zero alarm to an over range alarm for carbon monoxide and methane within 15 seconds around 3 PM, that day. The second device which was explored 3,000 feet away from the first detector noted a over range warning for carbon monoxide at 500 ppm and a high range warning for methane at 1%.

Massey finds this data crucial and assumes that the detectors might have experienced a rapid rise in the methane levels resulting in a vigorous blast with the highly elevated levels of carbon monoxide.

Richmond based Massey Energy Company, a leading producer of coal, will proceed with its investigation about the disastrous incident.


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