(a) A certified person as defined in § 75.100 shall monitor atmospheres of sealed areas. Sealed areas shall be monitored, whether ingassing or outgassing, for methane and oxygen concentrations and the direction of leakage.
(1) Each sampling pipe and approved sampling location shall be sampled at least every 24 hours.
(i) Atmospheres with seals of 120 psi or greater shall be sampled until the design strength is reached for every seal used to seal the area.
(ii) Atmospheres with seals less than 120 psi constructed before October 20, 2008 shall be monitored for methane and oxygen concentrations and maintained inert. The operator may request that the District Manager approve different sampling locations and frequencies in the ventilation plan, provided at least one sample is taken at each set of seals at least every 7 days.
(iii) Atmospheres with seals less than 120 psi constructed after October 20, 2008 shall be monitored for methane and oxygen concentrations and maintained inert. The operator may request that the District Manager approve different sampling locations and frequencies in the ventilation plan after a minimum of 14 days and after the seal design strength is reached, provided at least one sample is taken at each set of seals at least every 7 days.
(2) The mine operator shall evaluate the atmosphere in the sealed area to determine whether sampling through the sampling pipes in seals and approved locations provides appropriate sampling locations of the sealed area. The mine operator shall make the evaluation immediately after the minimum 14-day required sampling, if the mine ventilation system is reconfigured, if changes occur that adversely affect the sealed area, or if the District Manager requests an evaluation. When the results of the evaluations indicate the need for additional sampling locations, the mine operator shall provide the additional locations and have them approved in the ventilation plan. The District Manager may require additional sampling locations and frequencies in the ventilation plan.
(3) Mine operators with an approved ventilation plan addressing spontaneous combustion pursuant to § 75.334(f) shall sample the sealed atmosphere in accordance with the ventilation plan.
(4) The District Manager may approve in the ventilation plan the use of a continuous monitoring system in lieu of monitoring provisions in this section.
(1) Except as provided in § 75.336(d), the atmosphere in the sealed area is considered inert when the oxygen concentration is less than 10.0 percent or the methane concentration is less than 3.0 percent or greater than 20.0 percent.
(2) Immediate action shall be taken by the mine operator to restore an inert sealed atmosphere behind seals with strengths less than 120 psi. Until the atmosphere in the sealed area is restored to an inert condition, the sealed atmosphere shall be monitored at each sampling pipe and approved location at least once every 24 hours.
(c) Except as provided in § 75.336(d), when a sample is taken from the sealed atmosphere with seals of less than 120 psi and the sample indicates that the oxygen concentration is 10 percent or greater and methane is between 4.5 percent and 17 percent, the mine operator shall immediately take an additional sample and then immediately notify the District Manager. When the additional sample indicates that the oxygen concentration is 10 percent or greater and methane is between 4.5 percent and 17 percent, persons shall be withdrawn from the affected area which is the entire mine or other affected area identified by the operator and approved by the District Manager in the ventilation plan, except those persons referred to in § 104(c) of the Act. The operator may identify areas in the ventilation plan to be approved by the District Manager where persons may be exempted from withdrawal. The operator's request shall address the location of seals in relation to: Areas where persons work and travel in the mine; escapeways and potential for damage to the escapeways; and ventilation systems and controls in areas where persons work or travel and where ventilation is used for escapeways. The operator's request shall also address the gas concentration of other sampling locations in the sealed area and other required information. Before miners reenter the mine, the mine operator shall have a ventilation plan revision approved by the District Manager specifying the actions to be taken.
(d) In sealed areas with a demonstrated history of carbon dioxide or sealed areas where inert gases have been injected, the operator may request that the District Manager approve in the ventilation plan an alternative method to determine if the sealed atmosphere is inert and when miners have to be withdrawn. The mine operator shall address in the ventilation plan the specific levels of methane, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and oxygen; the sampling methods and equipment used; and the methods to evaluate these concentrations underground at the seal.
(1) The certified person shall promptly record each sampling result including the location of the sampling points, whether ingassing or outgassing, and oxygen and methane concentrations. The results of oxygen and methane samples shall be recorded as the percentage of oxygen and methane measured by the certified person and any hazardous condition found in accordance with § 75.363.
(2) The mine operator shall retain sampling records at the mine for at least one year from the date of the sampling.