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Petition - Docket No. M-2002-004-M

February 11, 2003

 

InThe Matter of

Hunt Midwest Mining Stamper Underground Mine I.D. No. 23-02232

Docket No. M-2002-004-M 30 CFR § 57.11052(d)

 

PROPOSED DECISION AND ORDER

 

Background

 

On October 4, 2002, Hunt Midwest Mining filed a petition pursuant to Section lOl(c) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (Mine Act), 30 U.S.C. Sec. 811(c), and 30 CFR Part 44. The petition sought a modification of the application of mandatory safety standard 30 CFR § 57.11052(d), (refuge areas), at the Stamper Underground Mine (ID No. 23-02232) located in Kansas City, Platte County, Missouri. The mine is an underground limestone mine using conventional mining methods.

The relevant standard, 30 CFR § 57.11052(d), Refuge areas, provides: Refuge areas shall be-----

(d) Provided with compressed air lines, water lines, suitable hand tools, and stopping materials.

 

The Petition proposes an alternative method of maintaining five gallon plastic water bottles in the refuge area rather than maintaining a water line as required by the standard.

 

The MSHA District Office conducted an investigation and filed a report with the Administrator for Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health. After a careful review of the entire record, including the petition and MSHA's investigative report, this Proposed Decision and Order is issued.

 

FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

 

The Petitioner proposes to maintain five gallon plastic bottles of water in the refuge chamber as an alternative to providing a water line. The petition states that no more than ten miners are anticipated to seek refuge in the chamber during a mine emergency and that the duration of any mine emergency is not anticipated to exceed four days. The petition states that "research has indicated that the general rule of thumb for the daily amount of water requirements for humans is 64 ounces." At this rate of water usage, ten miners would use 640 ounces or 20 gallons in four days. The petition states that 25 gallons of water would be maintained in the refuge chamber. The petitioner states that the storage of five gallon plastic bottles of water in the refuge chamber will provide no less than the same measure of protection as a water line.

 

The standard requires a refuge chamber for use when miners are unable to escape from the mine in an emergency. The investigation report indicates that a secondary escapeway is currently under construction. A water line is required to provide an unlimited quantity of water for miners. Ifthere is a mine emergency during which miners must remain in the refuge chamber for extended periods of time, a water line provides an unlimited supply of water. Using the estimates provided in the petition, the refuge chamber would only contain

water sufficient for about four days for the ten miners who would need the refuge area in a mine emergency. Consequently, five 5 gallon plastic water bottles do not provide the same measure of protection for miners as the water line required by the standard.

 

The petition states that there are no water lines on the property to deliver potable water to the refuge chamber. However, water is available at the mine.

 

Further, the petition states that it would be difficult to keep the water lines to the refuge chamber from freezing during the winter months because the water line would not be buried. This can be avoided by burying the water line, maintaining a dry system, using heat tape, exhausting air in the decline in order to warm the pipe, as well as use of the downcomer hole.

 

Finally, the petition states that the water line could be damaged in the event of a rock fall and subject to breakage by a ground fall. Use of the downcomer hole would eliminate these hazards.

 

The petition has not offered an alternative method of compliance that provides no less than 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.

§811(c), it is ordered that a modification of 30 CFR § 57.11052(d) based upon an alternative method of maintaining bottled water in the refuge chamber in lieu of water lines as required by the standard at the Hunt Midwest Mining Stamper Underground Mine is hereby DENIED.

 

Isl Robert M. Friend

 

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Robert M. Friend Administrator for

Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health