All new project proposals are handled by following well-established and specific procedures for underground laboratories. The aim is to satisfy the rigorous safety, environmental and quality requirements at each underground laboratory so that projects can be executed safely and efficiently, meeting customers’ requirements, goals and terms.
By following the established procedure for activities underground, the responsibility, authority and tasks can be well defined. Four to eight weeks are generally required to be able to plan the project execution in detail. For large projects, more time is generally required, for example when projects require permits or tunnel excavations.
A four steps procedure
The procedure for establishing a project underground generally follows these steps.
The customer contacts the underground laboratory and describes the project.
When a potential user is interested in using an underground laboratory for example for research or a product test, the first step is to contact an underground laboratory or the EUL for advice. The discussion concerns the appropriate setup of the project and the financial terms. Environmental permits need to be taken into consideration if environmentally hazardous substances are to be used.
Planning and proposals
After detailed planning, a work plan and cost proposal is presented to the customer.
After the first contact, a face-to-face or online meeting is arranged to start the project planning (setting up, operational and closing phases). The proposal is sent to the ULs as an open tender. The ULs reply whether the proposed project would be possible at their facility and estimates the hosting costs. After customers make the final decision and the contract between the UL and customer is in place, the project can start.
A site coordinator is appointed to assist the project, and the project is executed.
Before underground work can start, mandatory safety and security training takes place to ensure a safe working environment and safe practices for all users of an underground laboratory.
During the execution of the project, a site coordinator is appointed to help the project with specific arrangements on the site.
Users usually take care of their activities during project execution, but some can also be outsourced to experts, technicians or entrepreneurs on the site. Some underground laboratories also have highly skilled experimental services available.
After the underground activity ends, all equipment, materials and waste are removed according to the underground laboratory regulations and guidelines.
When the project ends a feedback questionnaire will be sent to the customer.
Step 4 wraps up the project. The field part of the project ends, and the tools and equipment used are collected. The data has been gathered, and generally, the compilation and reporting occur. A questionnaire to gather feedback and interest for further use is sent to the customer.