A large scale hydroelectric engineering project in Chile engages MineARC to provide a TunnelSAFE Refuge Chamber. The hydroelectric project, located high in the Chilean Andes south of Chile’s capital Santiago, aims to provide a total annual production of 2,320GWh once completed. This capacity would add more hydropower to the Chilean energy mix, which currently stands at 63% thermo-electric (based on imported fossil fuels), 34% hydro and 3% non-conventional renewable sources.
The project comprises underground plants with tunnels and shafts running a total length of over 65km. The construction phase will use a mix of conventional drills and blast and tunnel boring machine (TBM) excavation methods.
Tunnelling contracts have been awarded to two groups; both companies have emphasised safety as of foremost importance in the project and have instructed their TBM manufacturers that they require refuge chambers on the TBMs. As a result, the hydroelectric project now has five MineARC TunnelSAFE Refuge Chambers incorporated into the Emergency Response Plan (ERP).
Emergency refuge plays an integral part in a tunnelling project’s Emergency Response Plan (ERP). Fires, fall of the ground, flooding, and the release of smoke and other forms of toxic gas are the types of incidents that can occur, despite the high levels of planning and safety precautions. In these types of emergencies, where personnel become trapped without adequate ventilation and evacuation is no longer safe or practical, an emergency refuge provides a secure ‘go-to’ area for personnel to gather and await extraction.
Refuge Chambers for Multiple Tunnel Projects
The customised TunnelSAFE Gantry Design suits the specifications of each TBM. It has been explicitly constructed for high occupancy and long duration, with each chamber being designed to run autonomously for 48 hours without external power or air.
The range is highly customisable to suit any project and local regulations. TunnelSAFE chambers can be built to comply with European Standard (EN 16191:2014) Safety Requirements for Tunnelling Machinery, the British Standard (BS 6164:2011) Code of Practice for Health and Safety in Tunnelling in the Construction Industry, and the ITA’s “Guidelines for the Provision of Refuge Chambers Under Construction”.