Petitions for Modification of Application of Existing Mandatory Safety Standard

Federal Register, Volume 84 Issue 148 (Thursday, August 1, 2019)
[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 148 (Thursday, August 1, 2019)]
[Pages 37682-37684]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office []
[FR Doc No: 2019-16390]
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Petitions for Modification of Application of Existing Mandatory
Safety Standard
AGENCY: Mine Safety and Health Administration, Labor.
ACTION: Notice.
SUMMARY: This notice is a summary of petition for modification
submitted to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) by the
parties listed below.
DATES: All comments on the petition must be received by MSHA's Office
of Standards, Regulations, and Variances on or before September 3,
ADDRESSES: You may submit your comments, identified by ``docket
number'' on the subject line, by any of the following methods:
    1. Email: [email protected]. Include the docket number of the
petition in the subject line of the message.
    2. Facsimile: 202-693-9441.
    3. Regular Mail or Hand Delivery: MSHA, Office of Standards,
Regulations, and Variances, 201 12th Street South, Suite 4E401,
Arlington, Virginia 22202-5452, Attention: Sheila McConnell, Director,
Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances. Persons delivering
documents are required to check in at the receptionist's desk in Suite
4E401. Individuals may inspect a copy of the petition and comments
during normal business hours at the address listed above.
    MSHA will consider only comments postmarked by the U.S. Postal
Service or proof of delivery from another delivery service such as UPS
or Federal Express on or before the deadline for comments.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sheila McConnell, Office of Standards,
Regulations, and Variances at 202-693-9447 (voice),
[[Page 37683]]
[email protected] (email), or 202-693-9440 (fax). [These are
not toll-free numbers.]
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 101(c) of the Federal Mine Safety
and Health Act of 1977 and Title 30 of the Code of Federal Regulations
Part 44 govern the application, processing, and disposition of
petitions for modification.
I. Background
    Section 101(c) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977
(Mine Act) allows the mine operator or representative of miners to file
a petition to modify the application of any mandatory safety standard
to a coal or other mine if the Secretary of Labor determines that:
    1. An alternative method of achieving the result of such standard
exists which will at all times guarantee no less than the same measure
of protection afforded the miners of such mine by such standard; or
    2. That the application of such standard to such mine will result
in a diminution of safety to the miners in such mine.
    In addition, the regulations at 30 CFR 44.10 and 44.11 establish
the requirements and procedures for filing petitions for modification.
II. Petitions for Modification
    Docket Number: M-2019-020-C.
    Petitioner: Rockwell Mining, LLC, 300 Kanawha Boulevard, East (ZIP
25301), P.O. Box 273, Charleston, West Virginia 25321-0273.
    Mine: Matewan Tunnel Mine, MSHA I.D. No. 46-08610, located in Boone
County, West Virginia.
    Regulation Affected: 30 CFR 75.1108(c) (Approved conveyor belts).
    Modification Request: The petitioner requests a modification of the
Part 14 belt standard because the unique layout of the mine as well as
additional safety measures that will be put in place will make the
conveyor belt in the Tunnel Mine at least as safe as compliance with
Part 14.
    The petitioner states that:
    (1) The Tunnel Mine is a straight, three-entry tunnel mine
developed in 1998. The mine has been non-producing since 1998. At the
time of development, the sole purpose of the project was to provide an
excavation to install a conveyor system to transport raw coal. The seam
is 33 inches thick, requiring 48 inches of outseam excavation to
facilitate the conveyor system. The Tunnel Mine does not liberate any
    (2) The Tunnel Mine consists of three entries developed on a
straight course 10,500 feet from outcrop to outcrop. The roof in the
belt entry (center entry) is supported by 6-foot fully grouted bolts
with T5 steel channels in every row. Steel straps and four-foot
conventional bolts support the ribs. The final conveyor structure is
offset in the entry to provide complete access along its entire length.
Thus, the ventilation system will not likely be compromised by roof or
rib integrity measures.
    (3) The 42-inch conveyor is 12,445 feet long and is powered by two
separate drive installations located on the surface at each end of the
underground excavation (500 HP at Rocklick and 1,000 HP at Harris). The
conveyor is uniquely designed to turn over on each end to maintain the
material handling surface in an upward facing position. Both the top
and bottom structure are troughed 35 degrees to provide simultaneous
transportation capacity on the top and return portions of the belt. The
conveyor uses special belt with steel cable carcass related at 1,900
pounds per inch of belt width (PIW). Traveling 680 feet per minute
(FPM), the belt system has a carrying capacity of 1,000 tons per hour
(TPH) on each belt (top and bottom totaling 2,000 TPH).
    (4) The Tunnel Mine currently only transports a fraction of its
design capacity. Currently, the Tunnel Mine transports only raw coal
from two continuous miner sections in the Black Oak Mine with an
estimated daily volume of 4,000 raw tons to Rocklick. The return belt
capacity is not utilized at the mine.
--The portal at the Preparation Plant side of the Tunnel Mine is known
as the Rocklick Portal. The portal at the other end is known as the
Harris Portal. The Tunnel Mine is ventilated from the Rocklick Portal
with a 5.5 foot blowing fan with a 1,200 rpm speed, set to Blade
Setting No. 5, producing 95,000 cfm of airflow.
--At the Rocklick Portal, fresh air enters in the No. 1 entry and
travels to the No. 11 crosscut and splits. A small portion of the air
goes to entry Nos. 2 and 3 from crosscut No. 11 back to the Rocklick
Portal. The remaining air flows to the Harris Portal from crosscuts 11
to 75 in all three entries. The air in the Tunnel Mine is considered
--The existing belt, which is believed to have been installed between
2005 and 2007, is in excellent condition with little wear. There are no
belt drives, tails, or dumping points on the underground portion of the
belt flight. The belt runs one shift per day, approximately 8 to 9
hours. At the Harris Portal, an additional 1,250 feet of conveyor takes
the belt to the Black Oak Mine surface loading point. At the Rocklick
Portal, about 500 feet of conveyor belt takes the coal to the raw coal
--The Tunnel Mine has numerous safety features at or above the minimum
standards, including:
    (a) Mandoors every 300 feet on each stopping line.
    (b) Carbon monoxide monitors every 1,000 feet.
    (c) The conveyor has belt alignment rollers every 1,000 feet.
    (d) Fire taps located every 300 feet. Hoses are located at breaks
1, 37, and 74, which exceeds the minimum requirements.
    (e) The operator x-rays the belt annually to ensure the integrity
of the existing belt.
    (f) Two-way communications (pager phones) are located underground
at every seventh break throughout the mine. The control room operator
at Rocklick monitors the communication system. Two-way wireless radios
worn by the surface employees can communicate with the examiner
    (g) The roadways are graveled.
    (h) Emergency belt stop switches every seventh break.
    (i) No violations have been issued on the belt since May 19, 1998.
--Certified examiners travel the belt entry on a two-man ride to
examine the belt once per shift and record those findings in the
required mine books.
--Normally, the Tunnel Mine operates with only one miner underground
while the belt is running. The examiners of the Tunnel Mine are a
certified foreman and electricians. Examinations take about 1 hour per
shift. When necessary, a certified miner helps with maintenance and
other tasks in the mine.
--There are no belt drives, tailpieces, or electric motors inside the
Tunnel Mine. The belt only runs through the mine on conveyor structure
and rollers.
--The belt is approximately 1 inch thick, 42 inches wide and has steel
cable imbedded in the belt. The belt at each end is turned over so that
the coal side is always facing up on transport and return. The design
greatly reduces any spillage and accumulations in the mine.
--Self-Contained Self-Rescuer caches are stored at breaks 14, 28, 37,
42, 56, and 70. There ae also emergency barricade materials kept in the
No. 3 entry.
--The Tunnel Mine also has emergency lifelines throughout. Further, the
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following significant fire detection and fire-fighting devices are in
the mine:
    (1) The beltline has 13 smoke detection and carbon monoxide (CO)
sensors approximately every 5 to 6 breaks. The CO sensors are currently
set to ``low alarm'' at 5 parts per millions (ppm) and ``high alarm''
at 10 ppm, far below levels that present any danger to miners. The CO
monitoring system will be programmed to shut off the belt at ``high
alarm'' and;
    (2) The two-man ride used to examine the belt has self-rescuers and
separate fire extinguishers.
--The only alternative to using the Tunnel Mine belt will be to truck
Black Oak Mine coal to Rocklick. This will significantly increase the
number of trucks on Route 85 in Boone County between Black Oak and
Rocklick Preparation Plant. The increase in trucks going in and out of
the Rocklick Preparation Plant will also add congestion to the load out
traffic flow.
--The operator has not experienced any safety issues with the conveyor
belt in the Tunnel Mine nor has it received any 30 CFR 75.400 citations
for accumulations of combustible materials during current ownership.
The operator has not experienced any fire related issues on the
conveyor belt at the Tunnel Mine nor has it experienced any significant
issues with rollers on the belt in the Tunnel Mine beyond routine
--Based on a chemical laboratory analysis, the belt has been confirmed
to be Part 18 compliant. The belt has not been tested for Part 14
compliance due to the operator's difficulty in finding an appropriate
testing facility.
    The petitioner proposes the following alternative method of
achieving the purposes of the standard:
    (a) Prior to a qualified person entering the mine, the CO system
data from the prior 2 hours will be monitored for any sign of
combustion. At the end of coal transport each day (fire run), the CO
system data from the prior 4 hours will be monitored for any signs of
combustion (i.e., CO or smoke detection by CO monitors on the belt).
    (b) A daily functional (bump) test of at least one sensor will be
conducted for CO in addition to the weekly functional test required
under 30 CFR 75.1103-8. A different sensor will be bump tested each
    (c) The operator will train miners on the location of Part 18 belt
and interim safety measures being taken herein and revise instruction
under 30 CFR 75.1502 as appropriate.
    (d) An immediate functional test of the fire suppression system
along with additional tests will be conducted weekly. A daily visual
inspection of the entire fire suppression system will be conducted by a
qualified person.
    (e) The operator will install a ``waterwall system'' every 900 feet
that will be tapped into the CO monitoring system. The waterwall will
activate at 50 ppm of CO. The waterwall will provide a minimum of 50
psi and 45 GPM of water curtain from roof to floor and rib to rib.
    (f) Except during the on-shift exam, the belt will be cleared of
coal and will run empty during examinations. Examinations generally
take less than one hour. Currently, the belt runs approximately 8-9
hours a day.
    (g) Other than replacing water pumps, no motors, electrical
equipment, or belt drives will be added underground and no changes will
be made to the belt configuration or layout while this petition is in
    (h) Examiners will enter the mine from the Harris Portal at the
downwind side so the examiner is traveling towards the fan. From
entries 75 to 11, the examiner will be traveling into fresh air. From
crosscut No. 11 to the Rocklick Portal, fresh air will come from behind
the examiner for those 11 breaks.
    (i) Examiners will be trained to immediately notify the dispatcher
in the event of CO detection. Radio contact is established throughout
the Tunnel Mine beltline. Should a fire be encountered and not
extinguished according to the Mine Act, the examiner will withdraw from
the Tunnel Mine and notify MSHA as required under applicable law.
    (j) If the CO detection system is down, the belt will not operate
until necessary repairs have been made.
    (k) All necessary replacement belt will be Part 14 compliant. As
the belt is repaired and sections replaced, Part 14 belt will be used.
    (l) The belt will not be in operation while most maintenance is
conducted on the beltline.
    (m) The operator will continue annual x-ray examinations.
    The petitioner asserts that the proposed alternative method will
provide no less than the same measure of protection afforded the miners
under the existing standard.
Sheila McConnell,
Director, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances.
[FR Doc. 2019-16390 Filed 7-31-19; 8:45 am]