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[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 180 (Monday, September 17, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 57157-57160]

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DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

Mine Safety and Health Administration

Petitions for Modification of Application of Existing Mandatory Safety Standards

AGENCY: Mine Safety and Health Administration, Labor.

ACTION: Notice.

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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 October 17, 2012.

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: George F. Triebsch, 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.

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.]

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 No: M-2012-158-C.
Petitioner: Blue Mountain Energy, Inc., 3607 County Road #65, Rangely, Colorado 81648.
Mine: Deserado Mine, MSHA I.D. No. 05-03505, located in Rio Blanco County, Colorado.
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 permit 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) 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 will be used when equivalent permissible electronic surveying equipment is not available. 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 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 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 required 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 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 application of the existing standard would result in a diminution of safety to the miners and that the proposed alternative method will at all times guarantee the miners no less than the same measure of protection as that afforded by the existing standard.
Docket Number: M-2012-159-C.
Petitioner: Blue Mountain Energy, Inc., 3607 County Road #65, Rangely, Colorado 81648.
Mine: Deserado Mine, MSHA I.D. No. 05-03505, located in Rio Blanco County, Colorado.
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 permit 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) 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 will be used when equivalent permissible electronic surveying equipment is not available. 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 required in 30 CFR 75.320.
    (g) Batteries in the surveying equipment will be changed out or charged in fresh air out of the return airways.
    (h) Qualified personnel who use surveying equipment will be properly trained to recognize the hazards 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 application of the existing standard would result in a diminution of safety to the miners and 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-2012-160-C.
Petitioner: Blue Mountain Energy, Inc., 3607 County Road #65, Rangely, Colorado 81648.
Mine: Deserado Mine, MSHA I.D. No. 05-03505, located in Rio Blanco County, Colorado.
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 permit the use of battery-powered nonpermissible surveying equipment within 150 feet of pillar workings and longwall faces, 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 in future mines that may be in close proximity, it is necessary to determine the exact location and extent of the mine workings.
    (2) 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 will be used when equivalent permissible electronic surveying equipment is not available. 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 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 or longwall faces.
    (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 or longwall faces.
    (f) All hand-held methane detectors will be MSHA-approved and maintained in permissible and proper operating condition as required 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 or longwall faces.
    (h) Qualified personnel who use surveying equipment will be properly trained to recognize the hazards 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 application of the existing standard would result in a diminution of safety to the miners and 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-2012-005-M.
Petitioner: Intrepid Potash-New Mexico, LLC, Post Office Box 101, Carlsbad, New Mexico 88221.
Mine: Intrepid Potash East Mine, MSHA I.D. No. 29-00170 and Intrepid Potash West Mine, MSHA I.D. No. 29-00175, located in Eddy County, New Mexico.
Regulation Affected: 30 CFR 57.11050(a) and (b) (Escapeways and Refuges).
Modification Request: The petitioner requests a modification of the existing standard to permit exit from the Intrepid East Mine to the Intrepid West Mine and from the Intrepid West Mine to the Intrepid East Mine. The petitioner proposes to provide an escapeway to the surface where the East Mine connects to the West Mine, and where the West Mine connects to the East Mine. The petitioner states that:
    (1) The Intrepid East Mine and the Intrepid Potash West Mine are connected via airlock doors at an underground location.
    (2) For each mine there are three escape routes, one of which directs personnel to the adjacent East or West Mine. After personnel pass through the airlock located at the connection between the mines, they are in a mine that operates on separate ventilation, electrical, and pager phone systems.
    (3) The isolation provides protection for evacuating personnel equal to or better than escape to the surface through one of the two escapeways in the originating mine.
    (4) The capability of exiting to the adjacent mine improves safety in that it provides a third alternative escape route that is closer in proximity to the mining areas than the two escape shafts.
    (5) The petitioner proposes to provide:
    (a) Electronic communication to both mines at the connection between the mines.
    (b) Airlock doors separating the mines such that:
    (i) Only one set of airlock doors will be open at any time and air currents from each mine are maintained separate and distinct;
    (ii) The airlock doors will be constructed of fire-resistant materials and/or protected with a fire-resistant coating; and
    (iii) The condition of the airlock doors will be inspected monthly.
    (c) Instructions will be provided for checking out of the East Mine and into the West Mine, and out of the West Mine into the East Mine using electronic communication at the connection between the mines.
    (d) Instructions will be provided for personnel on how to navigate to the escape shafts of the adjacent mine at the connection between the mines.
    (e) A mine map showing the escape routes of the West Mine will be posted at the connection in the West Mine and a mine map showing the escape routes of the East Mine will be posted at the connection in the East Mine.
    The petitioner further states that training on escape using the connection between the mines will be provided for affected personnel at least semi-annually. In addition, at least one annual evacuation drill, as required by 30 CFR 57.4361, will direct personnel to escape to the other mine via the connection.

    Dated: September 12, 2012.
George F. Triebsch,
Director, Office of Standards, Regulations and Variances.
[FR Doc. 2012-22805 Filed 9-14-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4510-43-P