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Petition - Docket No. M-98-054-C

In the matter of
Shamrock Coal Company No. 18 Mine
Petition for Modification

Docket No. M-98-054-C

PROPOSED DECISION AND ORDER

On May 15, 1998 a petition was filed seeking a modification of the application of 30 CFR 75.1902(c)(2)(i) to Shamrock Coal Company's, Inc., No.18 Mine, located in Leslie County, Kentucky. The Petitioner alleges that the alternative method outlined 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

The alternative method proposed by the Petitioner (as amended by the recommendations of MSHA) will not at all times guarantee no less than the same measure of protection afforded the miners under 30 CFR 75.1902(c)(2) (i).

Section 75.1902 provides general requirements for the safe underground storage of diesel fuel, a combustible. This standard is intended to minimize the risks associated with fire hazards in the areas where the diesel fuel is stored. Section 75.1902(c)(l) permits only one temporary diesel fuel storage area for each working section or in areas of the mine where equipment is being installed or removed. Section 75.1902(c)(2)(i)-(iii) requires that the temporary fuel storage area be located within 500 feet of the loading point; within 500 feet of the projected location of the future loading point where equipment is being installed; or within 500 feet of the location of the last loading point where equipment is being removed.

The standard established 500 feet from the loading point as the maximum distance from which miners would be available to observe and correct a fire hazard. Maintaining the temporary underground diesel fuel storage tanks within 500 feet of the section loading point is intended to assure that the tanks are located close enough to miners so that any hazards that develop can be addressed promptly. Within a distance of 500 feet, miners are able to react quickly to control spills, or take action such as redirecting ventilation should a fire hazard develop.

Petitioner proposes as an alternative method to locate the temporary underground diesel fuel storage area within 500 feet of the longwall section track loading area. Petitioner states that this track loading area would be within a range of 200 to 1200 feet outby the active longwall face as the longwall retreats. Petitioner states that the loading track is within the normal daily work and travel area for the longwall crews and that this will allow refueling of the tank by the truck haulage units without transporting the storage unit to the track loading and returning to within 500 feet of the loading point.

Although petitioner's proposal would locate the temporary underground storage fuel area within 500 feet of the longwall section track loading area, as the longwall retreats, the distance from the loading point would range from 200 to 1200 feet. The distance from the loading section will exceed the maximum distance of 500 feet established by the standard, and under the proposal could, in fact, be locatd more than double the maximum distance permitted by the standard. Locating the temporary underground storage fuel area within 500 feet of the track loading area will not provide the same level of protection as the standard.

Petitioner contends that the loading track is within the normal daily work and travel area for the longwall crews. However, although miners may travel through the longwall track at times during the shift, the location of the temporary underground storage area more than the maximum distance of 500 feet could adversely affect the miner's ability to discover and address any hazards that may occur. Petitioner also contends that the alternative method will alow refueling of the tank by the truck haulage units without transporting the storage unit to the track loading area and returning to within 500 feet of the loading point. However, any problem of fuel spillage from transportation can be addresed by the petitioner through the adoption of safe work practices for fuel handling.

MSHA concludes that the propsed alternative method, if i mplemented, would not comply with the intent fo 30 CFR 75.1902(c)(2)(i) that the underground temporary fueld storage area be within 500 feet of the loading point. The alternative method proposed by the Petitioner will not at all times guarantee no less than the same measure of protection afforded the miners under 30 CFT 75.1902(c)(2)(i) because the distance between the loading point and the fuel storage area will not allow miners to quickly address any hazard which may develop during every production shift.

Although petitioner's alternative method may address the hazards associated with fuel transportation and spillage, MSHA has determined that, on balance, the hazard which may result from failure to observe and correct potential fire hazards, as a result of the greater distance between the miners and the f uel storage tank are greater under the alternative method. Consequently, baed on a review of the facts described above, taking into account both the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed alternative method, including effects unrelated to the original standard, MSHA has determined that the net safety effects of this proposed modification wo uld adversly affect overall mine safety when compared to the protection that is provided by compliance with the standard.

On the basis of the petition and the findings of MSHA's investigation, Shamrock Coal Company, Inc. is denied a modification of the application of 30 CFR 75.1902(c)(2)(i) to its No. 18 Mine.

ORDER

Wherefore, pursuant to the authority delegated by the Secretary of Labor to the Administrator 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 Shamrock Coal Company's, Inc. Petition for Modification of the application of 30 CFR 75.1902(c)(2)(i) in the No. 18 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 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