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2015WinterShotcreteEMag

2014 Outstanding Underground Project Robinson Creek Tunnel Fire By Randy Zeiger, Gabrielle Cadieux, Denis Laviolette, Nick Laviolette, Justin Laviolette, and Edward D. Sparks II Orailroad tunnel near Robinson Creek, KY, of the portals were able to be plugged with fillmuch of the walls and roof to collapse. The timberlining system burned for several days before bothn the eve of Saturday, April 26, 2014, anarson fire engulfed a CSX Transportation cutting off service to two active coal mines in the material to suffocate the fire and to address com- area. The biggest and most productive mine is munity air quality concerns (refer to Fig. 1). TECO Coal in Myra, KY, which employs approx- CSX Transportation responded to this emer- imately 500 personnel, and produces around gency, focusing on safely restoring service to their 2 million tons (1.8 million metric tonnes) of coal customers. This task was wrought with various per year. Normal track speed for this branch line technical, environmental, and health and safety is 25 mph (40 kph), and train traffic consists of challenges, including firefighting, managing air two to three coal trains per week. The tunnel is quality, and reducing personnel risks while 742 ft (226 m) in length, most of which was working in a hazardous work environment. AMEC timber lined. was asked by CSX Transportation to respond to When ignited, the coal seams that outcropped this emergency. AMEC worked with CSXT’s in the tunnel roof and walls, along with the creosote- Engineering and Environmental departments, laden timbers and ties that lined the tunnel, HAZMAT, local Division personnel, and LRL effectively turned the tunnel into an oven, causing Construction Company to manage the incident, address environmental concerns, evaluate the tunnel, and restore rail traffic. HEPACO provided environmental remediation and firefighting exper- tise. LRL Construction Company performed tunnel exploration and remedial repairs. The AMEC tunnel engineering design team concluded that an “exploratory investigation” was needed once the fire was brought under control to assess tunnel conditions and determine what was needed to return the tunnel to full service. Originally, the plan was to remove the earthen plugs at the portals and advance back through the tunnel using a “top heading” approach with hand scaling and rock bolting of the tunnel roof and arches to assess the condition of the tunnel interior. However, the extent of the damage and air quality issues caused by the fire did not permit this type of advance. Temperatures upwards of 3000°F (1650°C) were recorded in the debris pile along the invert of the tunnel, which was up to 15 ft (4.6 m) thick in some places. The debris had to be “mucked” out of the invert to safely advance. This presented a significant challenge due to the extreme temperatures and dangerous atmospheric conditions. With coal seams con- tinuing to burn, it was difficult to create the proper ventilation needed in the tunnel for workers to progress. Fresh air was forced into the tunnel from one portal and withdrawn from Fig. 1: Scene of the fire at the west portal on the other. The exhaust smoke was routed through April 26, 2014 a field-fabricated “scrubber” to remove particu- (Photo credit: Pike County, KY, newspaper) late matter before discharge to the environment. 20 Shotcrete • Winter 2015


2015WinterShotcreteEMag
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