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Notice

Petitions for Modification of Application of Existing Mandatory Safety Standards

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AGENCY:

Mine Safety and Health Administration, Labor.

ACTION:

Notice.

SUMMARY:

Section 101(c) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 and 30 CFR Part 44 govern the application, processing, and disposition of petitions for modification. This notice is a summary of petitions for modification submitted to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) by the parties listed below to modify the application of existing mandatory safety standards codified in Title 30 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

DATES:

All comments on the petitions must be received by the Office of Standards, Regulations and Variances on or before May 8, 2014.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit your comments, identified by “docket number” on the subject line, by any of the following methods:

1. Electronic Mail: zzMSHA-comments@dol.gov. Include the docket number of the petition in the subject line of the message.

2. Facsimile: 202-693-9441.

3. Regular Mail or Hand Delivery: MSHA, Office of Standards, Regulations and Variances, 1100 Wilson Boulevard, Room 2350, Arlington, Virginia 22209-3939, Attention: Sheila McConnell, Acting Director, Office of Standards, Regulations and Variances. Persons delivering documents are required to check in at the receptionist's desk on the 21st floor. Individuals may inspect copies of the petitions and comments during normal business hours at the address listed above.

MSHA will consider only comments postmarked by the U.S. Postal Service or proof of delivery from another delivery service such as UPS or Federal Express on or before the deadline for comments.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Barbara Barron, Office of Standards, Regulations and Variances at 202-693-9447 (Voice), barron.barbara@dol.gov (Email), or 202-693-9441 (Facsimile). [These are not toll-free numbers.]

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

Section 101(c) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (Mine Act) allows the mine operator or representative of miners to file a petition to modify the application of any mandatory safety standard to a coal or other mine if the Secretary of Labor determines that:

1. An alternative method of achieving the result of such standard exists which will at all times guarantee no less than the same measure of protection afforded the miners of such mine by such standard; or

2. That the application of such standard to such mine will result in a diminution of safety to the miners in such mine.

In addition, the regulations at 30 CFR 44.10 and 44.11 establish the requirements and procedures for filing petitions for modification.

II. Petitions for Modification

Docket Number: M-2014-005-C.

Petitioner: Brody Mining, LLC, Three Gateway Center, 401 Liberty Avenue, Suite 1500, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222-1000.

Mine: Brody Mine, No. 1, MSHA I.D. No. 46-09086, located in Boone Greene County, West Virginia.

Regulation Affected: 30 CFR 75.500(d) (Permissible electric equipment).

Modification Request: The petitioner requests a modification of the existing standard to permit an alternative method of compliance to allow the use of battery-powered nonpermissible surveying equipment in or inby the last open crosscut, including, but not limited to, portable battery-operated mine transits, total station surveying equipment, distance meters, and data loggers. The petitioner states that:

(1) To comply with requirements for mine ventilation maps and mine maps in 30 CFR 75.372 and 75.1200, use of the most practical and accurate surveying equipment is necessary.

(2) Application of the existing standard would result in a diminution of safety to the miners. Underground mining by its nature and size, and the complexity of mine plans, requires that accurate and precise measurements be completed in a prompt and efficient manner. The petitioner proposes the following as an alternative to the existing standard:

(a) Nonpermissible electronic surveying equipment may be used. Such nonpermissible surveying equipment includes portable battery-operated total station surveying equipment, mine transits, distance meters, and data loggers.

(b) All nonpermissible electronic surveying equipment to be used in or inby the last open crosscut will be examined prior to use to ensure the equipment is being maintained in a safe operating condition. These Start Printed Page 19392examinations will include the following steps:

(i) Checking the instrument for any physical damage and the integrity of the case.

(ii) Removing the battery and inspecting for corrosion.

(iii) Inspecting the contact points to ensure a secure connection to the battery.

(iv) Reinserting the battery and powering up and shutting down to ensure proper connections.

(v) Checking the battery compartment cover to ensure that it is securely fastened.

(c) The results of such examinations will be recorded and retained for one year and made available to MSHA on request.

(d) A qualified person as defined in 30 CFR 75.151 will continuously monitor for methane immediately before and during the use of nonpermissible surveying equipment in or inby the last open crosscut.

(e) Nonpermissible surveying equipment will not be used if methane is detected in concentrations at or above one percent for the area being surveyed. When methane is detected at such levels while the nonpermissible surveying equipment is being used, the equipment will be deenergized immediately and the nonpermissible electronic equipment withdrawn outby the last open crosscut.

(f) All hand-held methane detectors will be MSHA-approved and maintained in permissible and proper operating condition as defined in 30 CFR 75.320.

(g) Batteries in the surveying equipment will be changed out or charged in fresh air outby the last open crosscut.

(h) Qualified personnel who use surveying equipment will be properly trained to recognize the hazards and limitations associated with the use of nonpermissible surveying equipment in areas where methane could be present.

(i) The nonpermissible surveying equipment will not be put into service until MSHA has initially inspected the equipment and determined that it is in compliance with all the terms and conditions in this petition.

The petitioner asserts that the proposed alternative method will at all times guarantee no less than the same measure of protection as that afforded by the existing standard.

Docket Number: M-2014-006-C.

Petitioner: Brody Mining, LLC, Three Gateway Center, 401 Liberty Avenue, Suite 1500, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222-1000.

Mine: Brody Mine No. 1, MSHA I.D. No. 46-09086, located in Boone County, West Virginia.

Regulation Affected: 30 CFR 75.507-1(a) (Electric equipment other than power-connection points; outby the last open crosscut; return air; permissibility requirements).

Modification Request: The petitioner requests a modification of the existing standard to permit an alternative method of compliance to allow the use of battery-powered nonpermissible surveying equipment in return airways, including, but not limited to, portable battery-operated mine transits, total station surveying equipment, distance meters, and data loggers. The petitioner states that:

(1) To comply with requirements for mine ventilation maps and mine maps in 30 CFR 75.372 and 75.1200, use of the most practical and accurate surveying equipment is necessary.

(2) Application of the existing standard would result in a diminution of safety to the miners. Underground mining, by its nature and size and the complexity of mine plans, requires that accurate and precise measurements be completed in a prompt and efficient manner. The petitioner proposes the following as an alternative to the existing standard:

(a) Nonpermissible electronic surveying equipment may be used. Such nonpermissible surveying equipment includes portable battery-operated total station surveying equipment, mine transits, distance meters, and data loggers.

(b) All nonpermissible electronic surveying equipment to be used in return airways will be examined by surveying personnel prior to use to ensure the equipment is being maintained in a safe operating condition. These examinations will include the following steps:

(i) Checking the instrument for any physical damage and the integrity of the case.

(ii) Removing the battery and inspecting for corrosion.

(iii) Inspecting the contact points to ensure a secure connection to the battery.

(iv) Reinserting the battery and powering up and shutting down to ensure proper connections.

(v) Checking the battery compartment cover to ensure that it is securely fastened.

(c) The results of such examinations will be recorded and retained for one year and made available to MSHA on request.

(d) A qualified person as defined in 30 CFR 75.151 will continuously monitor for methane immediately before and during the use of nonpermissible surveying equipment in return airways.

(e) Nonpermissible surveying equipment will not be used if methane is detected in concentrations at or above one percent for the area being surveyed. When methane is detected at such levels while the nonpermissible surveying equipment is being used, the equipment will be deenergized immediately and the nonpermissible electronic equipment withdrawn out of the return airways.

(f) All hand-held methane detectors will be MSHA-approved and maintained in permissible and proper operating condition as defined in 30 CFR 75.320.

(g) Batteries in the surveying equipment will be changed out or charged in fresh air out of the return.

(h) Qualified personnel who use surveying equipment will be properly trained to recognize the hazards and limitations associated with the use of nonpermissible surveying equipment in areas where methane could be present.

(i) The nonpermissible surveying equipment will not be put into service until MSHA has initially inspected the equipment and determined that it is in compliance with all the terms and conditions in this petition.

The petitioner asserts that the proposed alternative method will at all times guarantee no less than the same measure of protection as that afforded by the existing standard.

Docket Number: M-2014-007-C.

Petitioner: Brody Mining, LLC, Three Gateway Center, 401 Liberty Avenue, Suite 1500, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222-1000.

Mine: Brody Mine No. 1, MSHA I.D. No. 46-09086, located in Boone County, West Virginia.

Regulation Affected: 30 CFR 75.1002(a) (Installation of electric equipment and conductors; permissibility).

Modification Request: The petitioner requests a modification of the existing standard to permit an alternative method of compliance to allow the use of battery-powered nonpermissible surveying equipment within 150 feet of pillar workings, including, but not limited to, portable battery-operated mine transits, total station surveying equipment, distance meters, and data loggers. The petitioner states that:

(1) To comply with requirements for mine ventilation maps and mine maps in 30 CFR 75.372, 75.1002(a), and 75.1200, use of the most practical and accurate surveying equipment is necessary. To ensure the safety of the miners in active mines and to protect Start Printed Page 19393miners in future mines that may mine in close proximity to these same active mines, it is necessary to determine the exact location and extent of the mine workings.

(2) Application of the existing standard would result in a diminution of safety to the miners. Underground mining by its nature and size, and the complexity of mine plans, requires that accurate and precise measurements be completed in a prompt and efficient manner. The petitioner proposes the following as an alternative to the existing standard:

(a) Nonpermissible electronic surveying equipment may be used. Such nonpermissible surveying equipment includes portable battery-operated total station surveying equipment, mine transits, distance meters, and data loggers.

(b) All nonpermissible electronic surveying equipment to be used within 150 feet of pillar workings faces will be examined by surveying personnel prior to use to ensure the equipment is being maintained in a safe operating condition. These examinations will include the following steps:

(i) Checking the instrument for any physical damage and the integrity of the case.

(ii) Removing the battery and inspecting for corrosion.

(iii) Inspecting the contact points to ensure a secure connection to the battery.

(iv) Reinserting the battery and powering up and shutting down to ensure proper connections.

(v) Checking the battery compartment cover to ensure that it is securely fastened.

(c) The results of such examinations will be recorded and retained for one year and made available to MSHA on request.

(d) A qualified person as defined in 30 CFR 75.151 will continuously monitor for methane immediately before and during the use of nonpermissible surveying equipment within 150 feet of pillar workings.

(e) Nonpermissible surveying equipment will not be used if methane is detected in concentrations at or above one percent for the area being surveyed. When methane is detected at such levels while the nonpermissible surveying equipment is being used, the equipment will be deenergized immediately and the nonpermissible electronic equipment withdrawn further than 150 feet from pillar workings.

(f) All hand-held methane detectors will be MSHA-approved and maintained in permissible and proper operating condition as defined in 30 CFR 75.320.

(g) Batteries in the surveying equipment will be changed out or charged in fresh air more than 150 feet from pillar workings.

(h) Qualified personnel who use surveying equipment will be properly trained to recognize the hazards and limitations associated with the use of nonpermissible surveying equipment in areas where methane could be present.

(i) The nonpermissible surveying equipment will not be put into service until MSHA has initially inspected the equipment and determined that it is in compliance with all the terms and conditions in this petition.

The petitioner asserts that the proposed alternative method will at all times guarantee no less than the same measure of protection as that afforded by the existing standard.

Docket Number: M-2014-008-C.

Petitioner: Aracoma Coal Company, Inc., Three Gateway Center, 401 Liberty Avenue, Suite 1500, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222-1000.

Mine: Alma No. 1 Mine, MSHA I.D. No. 46-08801, located in Logan County, West Virginia.

Regulation Affected: 30 CFR 75.1700 (Oil and gas wells).

Modification Request: The petitioner requests a modification of the existing standard to permit an alternative method of compliance with the standard with respect to mining through gas wells. This petition is limited to gas well No. DR W958. The following methods will be used when mining through vertically drilled degasification boreholes with horizontal laterals:

(a) The terms and conditions of this petition apply to mining with a continuous miner:

(i) A safety barrier of 300 feet in diameter (150 feet between any mined area and a well) will be maintained around the well until approval to proceed with mining has been obtained from the District Manager (DM).

(ii) Prior to mining within the safety barrier around any well that is intended to be mined through, the mine operator will provide to the DM a certification from a company official stating that all mandatory procedures for cleaning out, preparing, and plugging each gas or oil well have been completed as described by the terms and conditions of this petition.

(b) The petitioner will use the following procedures after approval has been granted by the DM to mine within the safety barrier, or to mine through a plugged or replugged well.

(1) Prior to cutting-through a plugged well, notify the DM or designee, representative of the miners, and the appropriate State agency in sufficient time for them to have a representative present.

(2) The operator will mine through a well on a shift approved by the DM. The operator will notify the DM and the miners' representative in sufficient time prior to mining-through a well in order to provide an opportunity to have representatives present.

(3) Install drivage sights at the last open crosscut near the place to be mined to ensure intersection of the well when mining through wells using continuous mining methods. The drivage sites will not be more than 100 feet from the well.

(4) Firefighting equipment, roof support supplies, and ventilation materials will be available and located at the last open crosscut on the intake side of the entry to cut into the well; three 20 pound CO2 fire extinguishers, 20 bags of rock dust, sufficient fire hose to reach the working face, one hand-held methane monitor capable of reading high percentages of methane, a multi-gas detector carried by both the foreman and the continuous miner operator, sufficient curtain to reach the working face, eight timbers with headers and wedges, and two emergency plugs. Additionally, the water line will be maintained to the belt conveyor tailpiece along with a sufficient amount of fire hose to reach the farthest point of penetration on the section.

(5) Check equipment for permissibility and service no earlier than the shift prior to mining through the well. Water sprays, water pressures, and water flow rates used for dust and spark suppression will be examined and any deficiencies will be corrected

(6) Calibrate the methane monitors on the longwall, continuous mining machine, or cutting machine and loading machine on the shift prior to mining through the well.

(7) When mining is in progress, test methane levels with a hand-held methane detector at least every 10 minutes from the time that mining with the continuous mining machine is within 30 feet of the well until the well is intersected and immediately prior to mining through it. No individual is allowed on the return side during the actual cutting process until the mine-through has been completed and the area examined and declared safe. All workplace examinations will be conducted on the return side of the shearer while the shearer is idle.

(8) Keep the working place free from accumulations of coal dust and coal spillages, and place rock dust on the roof, rib, and floor to within 20 feet of Start Printed Page 19394the face when mining through the well when using continuous mining methods. Conduct rock dusting on longwall sections on the roof, rib, and floor up to both the headgate and tailgate gob.

(9) Deenergize all equipment when the wellbore is intersected and thoroughly examine the place and determined it safe before resuming mining.

(10) After a well has been intersected and the working place determined safe, continue mining inby the well at a distance sufficient to permit adequate ventilation around the area of the well.

(11) If the casing is cut or milled at the coal seam level, the use of torches should not be necessary. In rare instances, torches may be used for inadequately or inaccurately cut or milled casings. No open flame is permitted in the area until adequate ventilation has been established around the wellbore and methane levels are less than 1.0 percent in all areas that will be exposed to flames and sparks from the torch. Apply a thick layer of rock dust to the roof, face, floor, ribs, and any exposed coal within 20 feet of the casing prior to any use of torches.

(12) Locate non-sparking (brass) tools on the working section in the event they are needed to expose and examine cased wells.

(13) No person will be permitted in the area of the cut-through operation except those actually engaged in the mining operation, company personnel, representative of the miners, personnel from MSHA, and personnel from the appropriate State agency.

(14) Alert all personnel in the mine to the planned intersection of the well prior to their going underground if the planned intersection is to occur during their shift. Repeat this warning for all shifts until the well has been mined through.

(15) The mine-through operation will be under the direct supervision of a certified official. Instructions concerning the mine-through operation will be issued only by the certified official in charge.

(16) The responsible person required in 30 CFR 75.1501 will be responsible for well intersection emergencies. The responsible person should review the well intersection procedures prior to any planned intersection.

(17) Within 30 days after this petition becomes final, the petitioner will submit proposed revisions for its approved part 48 training plan to the DM.

(18) Within 30 days after this petition becomes final, the petitioner will submit proposed revisions for its approved mine emergency evacuation and firefighting plan required in 30 CFR 75.1501. The petitioner will revise the plans to include the hazards and evacuation procedures to be used for well intersections. All underground miners will be trained in this revised plan within 30 days of the DM's approval of the revised evacuation plan.

The petitioner asserts that the proposed alternative method will at all times guarantee no less than the same measure or protection afforded by the existing standard.

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Dated: April 2, 2014.

Patricia W. Silvey,

Certifying Officer.

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[FR Doc. 2014-07764 Filed 4-7-14; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4510-43-P