Stop-work order lifted at Donkin coal mine after methane fire

Stop-work order lifted at Donkin coal mine after methane fire

A stop-work order at the coal mine in Donkin, N.S., was lifted Thursday morning after a small methane fire occurred underground on Tuesday.

Harold Carroll, executive director of occupational health and safety with the Nova Scotia Department of Labour, said inspectors were in the mine Wednesday.

He said the stop-work order issued Wednesday morning has now been lifted and there are no fines or new orders being issued.

A small pocket of methane at ground level was ignited by a spark when a miner hit a rock in the coal face, said Carroll.

"It was a small event that was contained to the face, or at the face where the miner was contacting the coal," he said.

"We found that all procedures and operating equipment — everything that was required — was in place and the response from the company and the employees at the time was very good."

Prevention measures already in place

Carroll said small pockets of methane coming from the ground are not uncommon. He said the ventilation system normally takes care of those.

In this case, it was simply a rare occurrence of a spark hitting a pocket of ground gas at the wrong time.

"There's really no preventable measures other than what are already in place through the operating procedures," said Carroll.

The fire occurred in a small section of the mine that has been in production since the end of January.

Another small section was opened to production earlier this month, but most of the mine is closed to coal-cutting after a roof collapse at the end of December.