Petition - Docket No. M-97-120-C

Inthe matter of
Island Creek Coal Company Ohio #ll
l.D. No. 1503178
Petition for Modification

Docket No.M-97-120-C


On October 14, 1997, a petition was filed seeking a modification of the application of 30 CFR 75.1905-l(g) to Petitioner's Ohio #11 Mine, located in Union County, Kentucky. The Petitioner alleges that the proposed alternative method will at all times provide the same measure of protection as the standard.

MSHA personnel conducted an investigation of the petition and filed a report of their fmdings 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

The petitioner proposes an alternative method which consists of a 1-inch borehole pipe containing a self-closing nozzle on the end of a hose assembly which is preceded by a mechanical valve which must be manually opened before fueling is started. A timer and solenoid valve at the surface will allow l 0 gallons of fuel to enter the pipe when activated. The underground fueling station will contain a washdown hose and have a sloping floor to drain away spilled fuel. The facility will have communications to the surface and be provided with a 20 pound fire extinguisher. Mine employees will be trained in the safe operation of the system.

MSHA's investigation revealed that the Ohio #11 Mine has installed a system to refuel diesel equipment in its underground mine by the use of a bore-hole (piping system) installation. A direct fueling of diesel equipment utilizing a hose and nozzle on the end of a borehole pipe system has been in operation at Ohio #11 Mine with no known spills or fires. The fuel taok of 1000 gallons capacity is located in a metal building on the surface and connects to the fueling station underground by a 1-inch borehole pipe which is 225 feet long. The pipe will hold approximately 10 gallons of fuel. The pipe from the surface storage taok is fitted with a manually operated ball valve and an automatic closing nozzle. The back of the concrete floored fueling station is approximately two feet lower in elevation than the front part. Fueling is to take place in the front part. There are approximately 26 units of diesel equipment which will be fueled directly from the borehole using the pipe, hose and nozzle assembly. MSHA regulation 30 CFR 75.1905(a), which became effective November 25, 1997 provides that diesel powered equipment in underground coal mines may only be refueled from safety cans, from taoks on diesel fuel transportation units, or from stationary taoks. This requirement regulates the circumstances under which diesel fuel is dispensed into underground diesel powered equipment, thereby minimizing the opportunities for spills and leakage.

Diesel fuel piping systems are allowed under 75.1905-1; however, the regulation states that, piping from the surface shall only be used to transport diesel fuel directly to stationary taoks or diesel fuel transportation units in a permanent underground diesel fuel storage facility. The refueling system proposed and described in the petitioner's modification request would allow direct refueling of diesel equipment from the borehole pipeline.

The alternative method proposed by the petitioner has in fact been in operation for approximately two (2) years during which time it is claimed by the petitioner to have been safely employed.

MSHA concludes that the proposed alternative method does not comply with 30 CFR 75.1905(a) which requires that diesel equipment be refueled only from safety cans, from taoks on diesel transportation units, or from stationary taoks. The stationary taok or transportation unit must be located in a permanent diesel fuel storage facility and meet the requirements of 75.1903 and 75.1904. Dispensing fuel from a diesel ful piping s ystem directly into the underground diesel equipment fuel tanks increases the  likelihood of fuel spills and consequently creates a fire hazard. Most of the petitioner's proposed alternate method terms and conditions are already required by provisions in 30 CFR 75.1905-1 (Diesel Fuel Piping Systems) and other fire protection and training provisions of 30 CFR Part 75 and Part 58. The petitioner has not proposed any terms or conditions that would achieve the protection intended by the standard. The request is considered by the agency to be a waiver to allow direct refueling of equipment by the use of a borehole piping installation. The waiver request appears to be based on the safe operation (two years) of a boreable diesel fuel delivery system at Ohio #11 Mine utilizing direct refueling of underground diesel equipment.

On the basis of the petition and the findings of MSHA's investigation, and a review of the record, it is determined that the alternative method proposed by the Petitioner will not at all times guarantee no less than the same measure of protection afforded the minters  under CFR 75.1905-1(g). Therefore, Island Creek Coal Company is not granted a modification of the application of 30 CFR 75.1905-1(g) to it's Ohio #11 Mine.


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(c) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, 30 U.S.C., Section 811(c), it is ordered that Island Creek Coal Company's Petition for Modification of the application of 30 CFR 75.1905-1(g) in the Ohio #11 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 Metal.and Nonmetal 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