U.S. Department of Labor/Office of Public Affairs
For Immediate Release: July 5, 2001
Contact: Seth Becker
Phone: (202) 693-4650
Released Thursday, July 05, 2001
DOL Reaches Partial Settlement in Litigation Over Diesel Particulate Rules
Important Provisions To Go Into Effect July 5, 2001
WASHINGTON -- Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced today that the Department of Labor has reached a partial settlement of the legal challenges to the final rule on diesel particulate matter (DPM) levels in underground metal and nonmetal mines.
"I am pleased that all the parties involved -- government, labor and industry -- were able to come together and reach agreement through difficult negotiations," Chao said "Now we have new standards to enforce, ensuring that miners will be working in a safer environment."
The final rule establishes new health standards for underground metal and nonmetal mines that use equipment powered by diesel engines. Among numerous protections, the rule requires operators of these underground mines to train miners about the hazards of being exposed to diesel particulate matter.
The parties in the litigation reached agreement on the following points:
- Provisions, which go into effect on July 5, 2001, cover the use of low sulfur fuel, engine maintenance and training. New diesel engines must meet EPA or MSHA standards.
- Proposed rules will clarify that operators may transfer existing equipment among their own mines without having to buy new equipment. They also will clarify the kinds of defects that, when tagged by an employee, require prompt attention from a mechanic. Finally, it also clarifies when the mechanic must begin to examine the tagged equipment.
- MSHA, with the support of the parties, will conduct sampling at mines beginning in August 2001, when a new sampling device becomes available. A sampling protocol will be developed jointly by all parties with assistance from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
- The interim concentration limit of 400 micrograms is scheduled to go into effect on July 19, 2002 and the final concentration limit of 160 micrograms is scheduled to go into effect on January 19, 2006. MSHA has committed to evaluate the appropriateness of these limits in light of the sampling which is scheduled to begin in August.
An announcement of the effective date of the rules and the new proposals will be published in the Federal Register on July 5, 2001.
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