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Federal Register: August 5, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 150)
Pages 41755-41756

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DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Mine Safety and Health Administration

30 CFR Parts 72 and 75

RIN 1219-AA74

Diesel Particulate Matter Exposure of Underground Coal Miners

AGENCY: Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), Labor.

[[Page 41756]]

ACTION: Proposed rule; extension of comment periods; notice of hearings; and close of record.

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SUMMARY: MSHA is extending the period for public comment regarding the Agency's proposed rule addressing diesel particulate matter exposure of underground coal miners, which was published in the Federal Register on April 9, 1998; and the notice of preliminary determination of no significant environmental impact published in the Federal Register on July 14, 1998.

The Agency is also announcing that it will hold public hearings in Birmingham, Alabama; Salt Lake City, Utah; Mt. Vernon, Illinois; and Beckley, West Virginia. The hearing dates, times, and locations will be announced by a separate notice in the Federal Register.

The rulemaking record will remain open 30 days after the last public hearing.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before October 9, 1998.

ADDRESSES: Comments on the proposed rule may be transmitted by electronic mail, fax, or mail. Comments by electronic mail must be clearly identified as such and sent to this e-mail address: zzMSHA-Comments@dol.gov. Comments by fax must be clearly identified as such and sent to: MSHA, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances, 703-235-5551. Send mail comments to: MSHA, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances, Room 631, 4015 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22203-1984 or any MSHA district or field office, and or technical support center. Copies of the proposal are available for review by the mining community at each district and field office location, and at each technical support center. The document is also available for loan to interested members of the public. These comments will become a part of the official rulemaking record. Interested persons are encouraged to supplement written comments with computer files or disks; please contact the Agency with any questions about format.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Patricia W. Silvey, Director; Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances; MSHA; 703-235-1910.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On April 9, 1998, (63 FR 17492), MSHA published a proposed rule to reduce the risks to underground coal miners of serious health hazards that are associated with exposure to high concentrations of diesel particulate matter (dpm). DPM is a very small particle in diesel exhaust. Underground miners are exposed to far higher concentrations of this fine particulate than any other group of workers. The best available evidence indicates that such high exposures put these miners at excess risk of a variety of adverse health effects, including lung cancer.

The proposed rule for underground coal mines would require that mine operators install and maintain high-efficiency filtration systems on certain types of diesel-powered equipment. Underground coal mine operators would also be required to train miners about the hazards of dpm exposure.

The comment period was scheduled to close on August 7, 1998. However, due to requests from the mining community, the Agency is extending the comment period for an additional 60 days, until October 9, 1998. MSHA believes that this extension will provide sufficient time for all interested parties to review and comment on the proposal. All interested parties are encouraged to submit comments prior to October 9, 1998.

The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et. seq.), requires each Federal agency to consider the environmental effects of proposed actions and to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement on major actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. On July 14, 1998, (63 FR 37796), MSHA published a notice in the Federal Register that announced its preliminary determination that the proposed rule would have no significant environmental impact. The comment period was scheduled to close on August 10, 1998; however, by this notice, MSHA is extending the comment period until October 9, 1998.

Additionally, MSHA plans to hold the first public hearing within two weeks of the close of the comment period. The hearing dates, times, and locations will be announced by a separate notice in the Federal Register. The hearings will be held under section 101 of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977.

To allow for the submission of post-hearing comments, the rulemaking record will remain open 30 days after the last public hearing. This date will also be announced by a separate notice in the Federal Register. This provides a total of more than 6 months from date of publication for the public to comment on this proposed rule.

Dated: July 30, 1998.
J. Davitt McAteer,
Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health.
[FR Doc. 98-20830 Filed 8-4-98; 8:45 am]
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