Petition - Docket No. M-97-117-C

Inthe matter of
Mountain Coal Company West Elk Mine
ID. No. 05-03672
Petition for Modification
Docket No. M-97-117-C 


On October 3, 1997 a petition was filed seeking a modification of the application of 30 CFR 75.1906(e)&(f) to Petitioner's West Elk Mine, located in Gunnison County, Colorado. The Petitioner alleges that application of this standard will result in a diminution of safety to the miners and that the alternative method proposed in the petition will at all times guarantee no less than the same measure of protection afforded by the standard.

MSHA personnel conducted an investigation of the petition and filed a report of their findings and recommendations with the Administrator for Coal Mine Safety and Health. After a careful review of the entire record, including the petition and MSHA's investigative report and recommendation, this Proposed Decision and Order is issued.

Finding of Fact and Conclusion of Law

Application of 30 CFR 75.1906(e)&(f) to the subject mine will not result in a diminution of safety to the miners and the Petitioner's proposed alternative method will not at all times provide a safe work environment to the miners.

On the basis of the petition, the findings of MSHA's investigation, and reviewing the mine's accident history, Mountain Coal Company is not granted a modification of the application of 30 CFR 75.1906(e)&(f) to its West Elk. Mine.

The Petitioner requests that a 1700 gallon diesel fuel tank be allowed, and asserts that this would result in fewer trips needed to refuel the section diesel fuel transportation units. Fewer trips would mean decreased emissions and the section diesel fuel transportation unit's would be limited to 350 gallons instead of the maximum allowable, 500 gallons.

The accident history for the mine has been reviewed and one accident can be directly attributed to a rough roadway. Therefore, it is determined that if equipment and supply roads are maintained in safe condition, the number of trips does not influence the safety of the miners. Also, the MSHA investigation revealed that diesel emissions would not be increased with properly maintained equipment and sufficient ventilation.

Section 75.1906(e) was intended to limit the maximum capacity of fuel tanks to 500 gallons. Indeveloping this standard, MSHA determined that decreasing the capacity to 250 gallons would not significantly decrease the protection against fire. However, increasing the capacity by 340% as proposed, would increase the possibility of fire hazard and/or fuel leakage.


Wherefore, pursuant to the authority delegated by the Secretary of Labor to the Administrator for Coal Mine Safety and Health, and pursuant to Section 101§ of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, 30 U.S.C., sec. 811(c), it is ordered that Mountain Coal Company's Petition for Modification of the application of 30 CFR 75.1906(e)&(f) in the West Elk Mine is hereby:


Any party to this action desiring a hearing must file a request for hearing within 30 days after service of the Proposed Decision and Order, in accordance with 30 CFR.44.14, with the Administrator of Coal Mine Safety and Health, 201 12th Street South, Suite 401, Arlington, VA 22202-5450.

If a hearing is requested, the reqest shall contain a concise summary of position on the issues of fact or law desired to be raised by the party requesting the hearing, inc!uding specific objections to the Proposed Decision and Order. A party other than the petitioner who requested a hearing shall also comment upon all itsues of fact or law presented in the petition. Any party to this action requesting a hearing may indicate a desired hearing site. If no request for a hearing is filed within 30 days after service thereof, this Proposed Decision and Order will become final and must be posted by the operator on the mine bulletin board at the mine.


Robert A. Elam

Deputy Administrator for Coal Mine Safety and Health