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Underground Ventilation System Analysis at WIPP

Nathan Wineinger, Keith Wallace
Monday, June 19, 2017
First presented: 
16th North America Mine Ventilation Symposium
Mine Ventilation
On the evening of February 14, 2014, radiological sensors underground at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) facility detected a radiation release. This sensor triggered a reconfiguration of the ventilation system from a flow of 123 m3/s (260,000 cfm) to 28.3 m3/s (60,000 cfm) through two HEPA filtration trains.  The ventilation system has been kept at a filtered flow of 28.3 m3/s (60,000 cfm) since the radiation event.  The DOE is currently investigating upgrades to the ventilation system that will include additional surface fans and filtration units, an additional booster fan in the underground, and a long range recovery ventilation plan. SRK with NWP engineers extensively modeled the underground ventilation system at WIPP to determine if a single differential pressure sensor at one strategic location could be used to validate the underground airflow distribution. A proper alignment for the underground ventilation system is airflow passing from the “clean” side to the disposal side with all disposal air exhausting through surface fans with filtration units.  This paper describes this study and its conclusion that it was possible to use a single device to monitor for ventilation configuration acceptance with multiple upset conditions.

Feature Author

Keith Wallace
Mr. Wallace has over 30 years of underground ventilation experience. He manages a small team of engineers in the design and implementation of underground mine ventilation systems for mining and civil projects around the world. Worldwide there are less than five firms that specialize in only underground mine ventilation.
Mr. Wallace has been active in the ventilation community by serving on the executive committee of the Underground Ventilation Committee of the Society of Mining Engineers, publishing over 30 papers on various aspects of ventilation and was the editor of the 12th US/North American Mine Ventilation Symposium. He has been in involved with numerous ventilation studies at both metal/non-metal mines, coal mines and tunnel construction projects throughout the world. Mr. Wallace is also active in developing ventilation software and organizing and has conducted over 40 workshops on ventilation planning and design to mining professionals.
Mine Ventilation Specialist
MS Eng. Mineral Engineering, Underground Ventilation
SRK Clovis
SRK Africa