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Petition - Docket No. M-98-01-M

In the matter of
Echo Bay Minerals Company Kettle River Operations
l.D. No. 45-03265
Petition for Modification
Docket No. M-98-01-M

BACKGROUND

On January 8, 1998, Echo Bay Minerals Company (Echo Bay), Kettle River Operations filed a petition seeking a modification of the application of 30 CFR 57.11050 to its Lamefoot Mine (I.D. No. 45-03265) located in Ferry County, Washington. The petition alleged that the alternative method, installing a refuge chamber on each level of the underground mine in lieu of a second escapeway out of the mine, would at all times guarantee no less than the same measure of protection afforded by the standard. Standard 57.11050 Escapeways and Refuges, provides in part:

Every mine shall have two or more separate, properly maintained escapeways to the surface from the lowest levels which are so positioned that damage to one shall not lessen the effectiveness of the others. A method of refuge shall be provided while a second opening to the surface is being developed. A second escapeway is reco=ended, but not required, during the exploration or development of an ore body.

MSHA investigators conducted an investigation relevant to the merits of the petition and filed a report of their findings with the Administrator for Metal and Nonmetal. After a careful review of the entire record, including the petition and investigative report, this Proposed Decision and Order is issued.

FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

In the old areas of the mine, a second escapeway exists. In more recently developed areas, the petitioner proposes a method that would require miners to use refuge chambers during a mine emergency rather than giving them a second way out of the mine.

This alternative would not provide miners the same protection they are afforded under 30 CFR 57.11050. The petitioner's proposed use of refuge chambers during an emergency could cause miners to delay their exit out of the mine, and could result in miners becoming fatally entrapped if the primary escapeway were to become unavailable. Emergencies historically associated with underground mining disasters, fires, inundations, and massive ground falls, have occurred where no potential was thought to exist. A prompt exit out of a mine has been the most critical factor to the saving oflives of miners in many emergency situations.

The investigation of this petition found that a secondary escapeway between the 2745 and 2225 levels can be safely developed and maintained. The availability of a secondary escapeway would not diminish the miners' safety. This escapeway would allow miners to safely exit the mine should the primary escapeway become unusable during an emergency.

Therefore, the petitioner has not offered an alternative method of compliance that provides the same level of protection to the miners.

ORDER

Wherefore, pursuant to the authority delegated by the Secretary of Labor to the Administrator for Metal and Nonmetal and pursuant to Section lOl(c) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, 30 U.S.C., Section 811(c), it is ordered that modification of the application of 30 CFR 57.11050 to the Lamefoot Mine as it pertains to using refuse chambers in lieu of a secondary escapeway out of the mine, is hereby DENIED.

 

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.

 

for Edward C. Hugler
Administrator for Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health