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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 Title 30 of the Code of Federal Regulations 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.

DATES:

All comments on the petitions must be received by MSHA's Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances on or before December 19, 2016.

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, 201 12th Street South, Suite 4E401, Arlington, Virginia 22202-5452, Attention: Sheila McConnell, Director, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances. Persons delivering documents are required to check in at the receptionist's desk in Suite 4E401. 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-2016-031-C.

Petitioner: S & J Coal Mine, 15 Motter Drive, Pine Grove, Pennsylvania 17963-8854.

Mine: Slope #2 Mine, MSHA I.D. No. 36-09963, located in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.

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 use of nonpermissible electric equipment within 150 feet of the pillar line to include drags and battery locomotives. The request is due in part to the method of mining used in pitching anthracite mines and the alternative evaluation of the mine air quality for methane on an hourly basis during operation, with one of the gas test results to be recorded in the on-shift examination record. The petitioner also proposes to suspend equipment operation any time methane concentration at the equipment reaches 0.5 percent methane either during operation or when found during a preshift examination. The petitioner states that:

(1) The equipment will be operated in the working section's only intake entry (gangway), which is regularly traveled and examined.

(2) The use of drags on less than moderate pitching veins (less than 20 degrees pitch) is the only practical system of mining in use.

(3) Permissible drags are not commercially available, and due in part to their small size, permissible locomotives are not commercially available either.

(4) As a result of low daily production rates and full timbering support, in-rushes of methane due to massive pillar falls are unlikely to occur.

(5) Recovery of the pillars above the first miner heading is usually accomplished on the advance within 150 feet of the section intake (gangway) and the remaining mineable pillars recovered from the deepest point of penetration outby.

(6) The 5,000 cubic feet per minute of required intake airflow is measured just outby the nonpermissible equipment with the ventilating air passing over the equipment to ventilate the pillar being mined.

(7) The electrical equipment is attended during operation and either power to the unit deenergized at the intersection of the working gangway and intake slope or equipment moved to that area when production ceases, minimizing any ignition potential from the pillar recovery area.

(8) Where more than one active line of pillar breasts recovery exists, the locomotive may travel to a point just outby the deepest active chute/breast (room) workings or last open crosscut in a developing set of entries.

The petitioner asserts that the proposed alternative method will at all times guarantee no less than the same Start Printed Page 81811measure of protection to the miners as would be provided by the existing standard.

Docket Number: M-2016-032-C.

Petitioner: S & J Coal Mine, 15 Motter Drive, Pine Grove, Pennsylvania 17963-8854.

Mine: Slope #2 Mine, MSHA I.D. No. 36-09963, located in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.

Regulation Affected: 30 CFR 75.1400 (Hoisting equipment; general).

Modification Request: The petitioner seeks to permit the use of a gunboat to transport persons without safety catches or other no less effective devices because to date, no such safety catch or device is available for steeply pitching and undulating slopes with numerous curves and knuckles present in the main haulage slopes of anthracite mines. The mines range in length from 30 to 4,200 feet and vary in pitch from 12 degrees and 75 degrees. The petitioner states that:

(1) A functional safety catch has not been developed. Makeshift devices, if installed, would be activated on knuckles and curves when no emergency exists causing a tumbling effect on the conveyance, which would increase rather than decrease the hazard to miners.

(2) As an alternative, the petitioner proposes to operate the man-cage or steel gunboat with secondary safety connections securely fastened around the gunboat and to the hoisting rope above the main connecting device, and use hoisting ropes having a factor of safety in excess of the 4 to 8 to 1 as suggested in the American Standards Specifications for Use of Wire Ropes for Mines.

The petitioner asserts that the proposed alternative method will provide no less than the same measure of protection afforded the miners under the existing standard.

Docket Number: M-2016-033-C.

Petitioner: Mach Mining, LLC, P.O. Box 300, Johnston City, Illinois 62951.

Mine: Mach No. 1 Mine, MSHA I.D. No. 11-03141, located in Williamson County, Illinois.

Regulation Affected: 30 CFR 75.503 (Permissible electric face equipment; maintenance) and 30 CFR 18.35 (Portable trailing cables and cords).

Modification Request: The petitioner requests a modification of the existing standard to allow the use of trailing cables longer than permitted under the existing standard. The petitioner states that:

(1) The maximum lengths of the 995-volt trailing cables will be 1,000 feet and not smaller than No. 2 American Wire Gauge (AWG).

(2) All circuit breakers used to protect No. 2 AWG trailing cables exceeding 700 feet in length will have instantaneous trip units calibrated to trip at 800 amperes. The trip setting of these circuit breakers will be sealed or locked so that the setting cannot be changed and these circuit breakers will have permanent, legible labels. Each label will identify the circuit breaker as being suitable for protecting No. 2 AWG cables. The labels will be maintained legible.

(3) Replacement instantaneous trip units used to protect No. 2 AWG trailing cables will be calibrated to trip at 800 amperes, and this setting will be sealed and locked.

(4) All components that provide short-circuit protection will have a sufficient interruption rating in accordance with the maximum calculated fault currents available.

(5) Short-circuit settings must not exceed the setting specified in the approval documentation or 70 percent of the maximum available current, whichever is less.

(6) Any trailing cable that is not in safe operating condition will be removed from service immediately and repaired or replaced.

(7) Each splice or repair in the trailing cable will be made in a workmanlike manner and in accordance with the instructions of the manufacturer of the splice or repair kit. The outer jacket of each splice or repair will be vulcanized with flame-resistant material or made with material that has been accepted by MSHA as flame resistant.

(8) In the event the mining methods or operating procedures cause or contribute to the damage of any trailing cable, the trailing cable will be removed from service immediately and repaired or replaced, and additional precautions will be taken to ensure that in the future, the cable is protected and maintained in safe operating condition.

(9) During each production day, persons designated by the mine operator will visually examine the trailing cables to ensure that the cables are in safe operating condition. The instantaneous settings of the specially calibrated circuit breakers will be visually examined to ensure that the seals or locks have not been removed and do not exceed the settings stipulated in items (2) and (3).

(10) Permanent warning labels will be installed and maintained on the cover of the power center identifying the location of each sealed short-circuit protective device. These labels will warn miners not to change or alter these sealed short-circuit settings.

(11) The alternative method will not be implemented until all miners who have been designated to examine the integrity of seals or locks, verify the short-circuit settings, and examine trailing cables for defects have received their training.

(12) Within 60 days after the proposed decision and order becomes final, the petitioner will submit proposed revisions for their approved 30 CFR part 48 training plans to the District Manager for the area in which the mine is located. The training will include the following elements:

(a) Mining methods and operating procedures that will protect the trailing cables against damage;

(b) Proper procedures for examining the trailing cables to ensure that the cables are in safe operating condition;

(c) The hazards of setting the short circuit interrupting device too high to adequately protect the trailing cables; and

(d) How to verify that the circuit interrupting device(s) protecting the trailing cable(s) are properly set and maintained.

The procedures as specified in 30 CFR 48.3 for approval of proposed revisions to already approved training plans will apply.

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

Docket Number: M-2016-034-C.

Petitioner: Warrior Coal, LLC, 57 J.E. Ellis Rd., Madisonville, Kentucky 42431.

Mine: Warrior's Cardinal Mine, MSHA I.D. No. 15-14335, located in Hopkins County, Kentucky.

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

Modification Request: The petitioner requests a modification of the existing standard to permit the use of nonpermissible electronic testing or diagnostic equipment inby the last open crosscut. The petitioner states that:

(1) Nonpermissible electronic testing and diagnostic equipment to be used includes: Laptop/tablet computers, oscilloscopes, vibration analysis machines, cable fault detectors, point temperature probes, infrared temperature devices, insulation testers (meggers), voltage, current, resistance meters and power testers, and electronic tachometers. Other testing and diagnostic equipment may be used if approved in advance by the MSHA District Manager.

(2) All nonpermissible testing and diagnostic equipment used in or inby Start Printed Page 81812the last open crosscut will be examined by a qualified person (as defined in 30 CFR 75.153) prior to use to ensure the equipment is being maintained in a safe operating condition. The examination results will be recorded weekly in the examination book and will be made available to MSHA and the miners at the mine.

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

(4) Nonpermissible electronic testing and diagnostic equipment will not be used if methane is detected in concentrations at or above 1.0 percent. When 1.0 percent or more methane is detected while the nonpermissible electronic equipment is being used, the equipment will be deenergized immediately and withdrawn outby the last open crosscut.

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

(6) Except for time necessary to troubleshoot under actual mining conditions, coal production on MMU will cease. However, coal may remain in or on the equipment to test and diagnose the equipment under “load.”

(7) All electronic testing and diagnostic equipment will be used in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations.

(8) Qualified personnel who use electronic testing and diagnostic equipment will be properly trained to recognize the hazards and limitations associated with use of the equipment.

The petitioner asserts that under the terms and conditions of the petition for modification, the use of nonpermissible electronic testing and diagnostic equipment will at all times guarantee no less than the same measure of protection afforded by the existing standard.

Docket Number: M-2016-035-C.

Petitioner: Warrior Coal, LLC, 57 J.E. Ellis Rd., Madisonville, Kentucky 42431.

Mine: Warrior's Cardinal Mine, MSHA I.D. No. 15-14335, located in Hopkins County, Kentucky.

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 the use of nonpermissible electronic testing or diagnostic equipment in return air outby the last open crosscut. The petitioner states that:

(1) Nonpermissible electronic testing and diagnostic equipment to be used includes: Laptop/tablet computers, oscilloscopes, vibration analysis machines, cable fault detectors, point temperature probes, infrared temperature devices, insulation testers (meggers), voltage, current, resistance meters and power testers, and electronic tachometers. Other testing and diagnostic equipment may be used if approved in advance by the MSHA District Manager.

(2) All nonpermissible testing and diagnostic equipment used in return air outby the last open crosscut will be examined by a qualified person (as defined in 30 CFR 75.153) prior to use to ensure the equipment is being maintained in a safe operating condition. The examination results will be recorded weekly in the examination book and will be made available to MSHA and the miners at the mine.

(3) A qualified person as defined in existing 30 CFR 75.151 will continuously monitor for methane immediately before and during the use of nonpermissible electronic testing and diagnostic equipment in return air outby the last open crosscut.

(4) Nonpermissible electronic testing and diagnostic equipment will not be used if methane is detected in concentrations at or above 1.0 percent. When 1.0 percent or more methane is detected while the nonpermissible electronic equipment is being used, the equipment will be deenergized immediately and withdrawn from the return air outby the last open crosscut.

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

(6) All electronic testing and diagnostic equipment will be used in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations.

(7) Qualified personnel who use electronic testing and diagnostic equipment will be properly trained to recognize the hazards and limitations associated with use of the equipment.

The petitioner asserts that under the terms and conditions of the petition for modification, the use of nonpermissible electronic testing and diagnostic equipment will at all times guarantee no less than the same measure of protection afforded by the existing standard.

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Sheila McConnell,

Director, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances.

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[FR Doc. 2016-27713 Filed 11-17-16; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4520-43-P