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Federal Register: March 24, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 56)
Page 14200-14201

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DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Mine Safety and Health Administration

30 CFR Part 57

RIN 1219-AB11

Diesel Particulate Matter Exposure of Underground Metal and Nonmetal Miners AGENCY: Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), Labor.

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

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SUMMARY: MSHA is announcing public hearings on the Agency's proposed rule about diesel particulate matter exposure of underground metal and nonmetal miners, which was published in the Federal Register on October 29, 1998. These hearings will be held under section 101 of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977.

The rulemaking record will remain open until July 26, 1999.

DATES: If you want to make an oral presentation for the record, submit your request at least 5 days prior to the hearing date. However, you do not have to make a written request to speak. The public hearings will be held at the following locations on the dates indicated:

May 11, 1999, Salt Lake City, Utah
May 13, 1999, Albuquerque, New Mexico
May 25, 1999, St. Louis, Missouri
May 27, 1999, Knoxville, Tennessee

Each hearing will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., but will continue into the evening if necessary.

The rulemaking record will remain open until July 26, 1999.

ADDRESSES: Send requests to make oral presentations to: MSHA, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances, Room 631, 4015 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22203-1984.

The hearings will be held at the following locations:

1. May 11, 1999, Doubletree Hotel, 255 South West Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84101, Tel. No. 801-328-2000.

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2. May 13, 1999, Doubletree Hotel, 201 Marquette NW, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87102, Tel. No. 505-247-3344.

3. May 25, 1999, Holiday Inn Select, St. Louis Downtown Convention Center, 811 North Ninth St., St. Louis, Missouri 63101, Tel. No. 314-421-4000.

4. May 27, 1999, Hyatt Regency Knoxville, 500 Hill Avenue, SE, Knoxville, Tennessee 37915, Tel. No. 423-637-1234.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Carol J. Jones, Acting Director; Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances, MSHA, 4015 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22203-1984. She can be reached at Cjones (Internet E-mail), 703-235-1910 (Voice), or 703-235-5551 (Fax).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background On October 29, 1998, (63 FR 58104), MSHA published a proposed rule that would establish new health standards for underground metal and nonmetal mines that use equipment powered by diesel engines.

The proposed rule is designed to reduce the risks to underground metal and nonmetal 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 metal and nonmetal mines would establish a concentration limit for dpm, and require mine operators to use engineering and work practice controls to reduce dpm to that limit. Underground metal and nonmetal mine operators would also be required to implement certain "best practice'' work controls similar to those already required of underground coal mine operators under MSHA's 1996 diesel equipment rule. Additionally, operators would be required to train miners about the hazards of dpm exposure.

The comment period on the proposed rule was scheduled to close on February 26, 1999. However, in response to requests from the public for additional time to prepare their comments, and with additional data added to the rulemaking record by MSHA, the Agency extended the public comment period until April 30, 1999 (64 FR 7144).

The Agency welcomes your comments on the significance of the material already in the record, and any information that can supplement the record. For example, we welcome comments on: Additional information on existing and projected exposures to dpm and to other fine particulates in various mining environments; the health risks associated with exposure to dpm; on the costs to miners, their families and their employers of the various health problems linked to dpm exposure; or additional benefits to be expected from reducing dpm exposure.

The rulemaking record will remain open until July 26, 1999.

II. Public Hearings MSHA will hold pubic hearings to receive additional public comments on the proposed rule addressing diesel particulate matter exposure of underground metal and nonmetal miners.

The hearings will be conducted in an informal manner by a panel of MSHA officials. Although formal rules of evidence or cross examination will not apply, the presiding official may exercise discretion to ensure the orderly progress of the hearings and may exclude irrelevant or unduly repetitious material and questions.

Each session will begin with an opening statement from MSHA, followed by an opportunity for members of the public to make oral presentations. The hearing panel may ask questions of speakers. At the discretion of the presiding official, the time allocated to speakers for their presentations may be limited. In the interest of conducting productive hearings, MSHA will schedule speakers in a manner that allows all points of view to be heard as effectively as possible.

Verbatim transcripts of the proceedings will be prepared and made a part of the rulemaking record. MSHA will make available copies of the hearing transcripts for pubic review.

MSHA will accept additional written comments and other appropriate data for the record from any interested party, including those not presenting oral statements. Written comments and data submitted to MSHA will be included in the rulemaking record.

III. Rulemaking Record

To allow for the submission of post-hearing comments, the rulemaking record will remain open until July 26, 1999. This provides nine months from publication for the public to comment on this proposed rule.

Dated: March 8, 1999.
J. Davitt McAteer,
Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health.
[FR Doc. 99-7139 Filed 3-23-99; 8:45 am]
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