Risk and mitigation of self-heating and spontaneous combustion in underground coal storage

J. Sipilä (Corresponding Author), Pertti Auerkari, Anna-Mari Heikkilä, Risto Tuominen, I. Vela, J. Itkonen, M. Rinne, K. Aaltonen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    35 Citations (Scopus)


    While the self-heating and spontaneous combustion of coal is a known challenge at coal mines and storage sites, there are known methods for mitigating this challenge for typical open stockpile storage. However, closing the storage will reduce access for corrective action, and it is then important to manage the storage and its transport system with added attention without unduly adding cost or hindering availability. This paper aims to discuss the risk, prevention and extinguishing of fires in closed coal storage facilities, particularly in light of the experience with the Salmisaari underground rock storage facility in Finland. The observed autoignition events have indicated an array of contributing factors, some of which are unique to underground silo storage facilities. On the other hand, many features of the storage facilities can be compared with other extant closed storage systems. The factors affecting fire risk are described and the associated fault and event trees are outlined for autoignition at underground storage. Drawing upon the experiences with past events of self-heating and spontaneous combustion, recommendations are given on cost-effective preventive, corrective and other mitigating action for minimising fire risk and promoting storage availability.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)617-622
    Number of pages6
    JournalJournal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2012
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Coal
    • fire
    • mitigation
    • risk
    • underground storage


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