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The Sunshine Mine Disaster: A case study for emergency response . Sunshine Mine - Kellogg, Idaho. Largest & richest silver mine in US. On the morning of May 2, 1972, the mine manager & superintendent away attending shareholder’s meeting. 7:00. 173 men began work. The Path Inside. 11:30.

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Presentation Transcript
slide1

The Sunshine Mine Disaster:

A case study for emergency response

slide2

Sunshine Mine - Kellogg, Idaho

Largest & richest silver mine in US

slide3

On the morning of May 2, 1972, the mine manager & superintendent away attending shareholder’s meeting

slide4

7:00

173 men began work

slide6

11:30

Electricians at electric shop on 3700 level, smelled smoke, & shouted a warning

slide8

Foreman’s Office

“Blue Room”

slide9

11:40

They reported smoke to Foremen Harvey Dionne & Gene Johnson who were eating in “Blue Room”

slide12

When CO detected, fire doors automatically closed & miners were to travel to #10 shaft to ride “Chippy Hoist” out

slide14

20

MINUTES

Foremen delayed evacuation for 20 minutes looking for fire

slide15

12:00

Foremen Gene Johnson called for evacuation of mine

Word spread there was a fire & they were to evacuate

slide16

12:05

4400 level crew called for “Chippy Hoist” when they saw smoke in shaft - no response from hoist room

slide17

12:05

The safety engineer went to compressor room & activated stench warning system

The “STENCH” would take 26 minutes to reach all areas

slide18

12:05

“Chippy” operator station was overcome by smoke

Double-drum hoist operator told to prepare to lift people with production hoist

He was still running production & had not heard of fire

slide19

Most workers aware of fire when smoke entered their workplaces

Men dispatched to relay verbal warnings to others in remote locations

Within a short time of detecting smoke, most workers went to #10 shaft station

slide20

The main “double drum” hoist not designed to move men

A smaller 12-man car was quickly put in place

The small lift made operation very slow

slide22

12:10

Men hoisted to 3100 level & directed to walk one mile out to Jewell Shaft

slide23

Most had never been to 3100 level before

Normal path out was to ride motor down on 3700 which was full of smoke

slide25

Gene Johnson determined intense smoke resulted from short circuit in ventilation system & now making things worse

He sent 2 miners to wait by fans & he would give signal to stop fans

12:30

slide26

Ventilation Plan

Bad Air

Good Air

Twin 150 hp fans

slide27

Short Circuited

Bulk heads meant to control air flow fail forcing smoke through the main shaft

Main fans no longer pull fresh air, they pump bad air to working areas

slide28

Signal never came & the two were found dead by fans

Foreman Gene Johnson also perished from smoke

With the fans still churning, smoke was forced further into mine

slide29

Foreman Harvey Dionne remembered an exploration shaft that had been drilled down from under the Jewell

He removed the safety covering to allow fresh air to reach the 4800 level

12:15

slide30

Exploration Shaft

This 48” shaft was big enough to deliver breathable to the far west section of 4800

slide32

Greg Dionne took over “Caging” job passing out self-rescuers & helping men use them

He died after helping dozens of men escape lower levels

slide33

1:02

All hoisting at #10 shaft ceased when double drum hoist man was overcome

slide34

Foremen Give Instructions to Evacuate

Last Miner Hoisted Out

Smoke Detected

Surface Notified

Supervisors Look For Fire

Stench Warning Deployed

Warning Reaches Miners

11:30

11:45

12:00

12:15

12:30

12.45

1:00

90 Minutes

slide35

It was difficult to determine who was still in the mine because the list of workers was kept inside mine at foreman’s office

Those who escaped were not counted either

Most showered & either went home or to a bar called “The Long Shot”

slide38

Not required in hard rock or metal mines in 1972

There was a shortage of W65 rescuers available due to demand from coal mines

W 65

BM-1447

self rescuer
Self Rescuer
  • Uses hopcilite to turn CO into breathable CO2
  • Byproduct of reaction is heat - survivors had 2nd & 3rd degree burns on mouths
  • Air tests found Oxygen below 5% & CO above 3000 PPM
  • Oxygen levels below 16% are immediately dangerous to life
  • Autopsies determined most died within 40 to 60 seconds of exposure
slide43

Two miners, Tom Wilkinson & Ron Flory, were found alive & in good condition at the 4800 level

They were saved by fresh air shaft that Harvey Dionne uncovered by Jewell shaft

slide44

Safe Zone

The air supplied by the open shaft provided the two miners with a small “safe zone”

slide45

Probable cause of fire was spontaneous combustion of refuse near scrap timber used to backfill worked out stops

Extensive ground falls & caving occurred in immediate area when timber supports were consumed, making investigation of area impossible

slide46

5 lessons learned at

Sunshine Mine

that should affect your emergency response plan

slide47

Lesson #1

“Only shaft fires could create evacuation problems in hard rock mines - the walls aren’t flammable & floor is wet.”

Understand Murphy’s Law, “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong”

Plan for every contingency

slide48

Lesson #2

“When manager is away, everyone can pretty well figure out what to do in event of emergency”

Everyone needs to have clearly defined roles

Need to understand what to do & who has authority

slide49

Lesson #3

“The fire may not be that bad. Lets check it out & see if we can take care of it without disrupting production.”

Assume worst & hope for best

Decision to delay evacuation for 20 minutes cost miners their lives

slide50

Lesson #4

“We have detailed written emergency response plan that exceeds legal requirements. As long as signs in place, we don’t need to train or conduct drills ”

Plan called for miners to be dropped off in a section they had never seen & walk out in poor visibility

A team can have world’s greatest game plan on paper, but if not practiced, it will never work the way they planned

slide51

Lesson #5

“Our communication system is sufficient. We have “party line” phones on every level & word of mouth can carry message to all working areas.”

“Party line” was jammed with miners trying to figure out what was going on

Emergency communications must be clear, understandable & reach all affected employees

slide52

What other factors turned this fire into one of the most tragic mine disasters in our nation’s history?

slide55

2. Top mine officials were not at mine & no person had been designated as being in charge of the entire operation

slide56

3. Company personnel delayed ordering evacuation for 20 minutes while they searched for the fire

slide58

5. Most underground employees had not been trained in use of provided self rescuers & had difficulty using them

Some self rescuers provided not maintained in useable condition

slide59

6. Mine survival training, including evacuation procedures, barricading, & hazards of gases, such as carbon monoxide had not been given mine employees

slide60

The emergency fire plan developed by company was not effective & did not conduct evacuation drills

slide62

9. Ventilation system controls did not allow isolation of #10 shaft, hoist rooms & service raises or compartmentalization of mine

Smoke & gas able to move unrestricted into almost all workings & travelways

slide66

DO YOU HAVE A PLAN FOR…

HEALTH EMERGENCY

FLOOD

TRAGIC ACCIDENT

SUICIDALTRESSPASSER

DOWNED POWER LINES

TORNADO

PETROLIUM SPILL

HIGHWALLFAILURE

VIOLENCE IN THE WORKPLACE

BELT FIRE