Petitions for Modification of Application of Existing Mandatory Safety Standards, 67423-67427 [2015-27820]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 211 / Monday, November 2, 2015 / Notices of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service, and the Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The nine additional members are appointed by the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate Majority Leader, and the President of the United States. Other federal agencies take part in Council activities, including the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Interior, and the Substance and Mental Health Services Administration of HHS. Meeting Agenda: The agenda will include: (a) Opening remarks and introductions; (b) Discussion of the Overview of National, State and Local Efforts to Reduce and Prevent Youth Violence; and (c) Council member announcements. Registration: For security purposes, members of the public who wish to attend the meeting must pre-register online at www.juvenilecouncil.gov no later than Tuesday November 10, 2015. Should problems arise with Web registration, contact Scott Peton, Senior Meeting Planner/Federal Contractor, at (240) 432–3014 or send a request to register to Mr. Peton. Please include name, title, organization or other affiliation, full address and phone, fax and email information and send to his attention either by fax to (866) 854– 6619, or by email to speton@ aeioonline.com. Note that these are not toll-free telephone numbers. Additional identification documents may be required. Meeting space is limited. asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Note: Photo identification will be required for admission to the meeting. Written Comments: Interested parties may submit written comments and questions in advance by Tuesday, November 10, 2015, to Georgina M. McDowell, Acting Designated Federal Official for the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, at Georgina.McDowell@ ojp.usdoj.gov. Alternatively, fax your comments to (202) 353–9093 and contact Marshall Edwards, Senior Program Manager/Federal Contractor, at (202) 514–0929 to ensure that they are received. These are not toll-free numbers. The Council expects that the public statements submitted will not repeat previously submitted statements. Written questions from the public are also invited at the meeting. Robert L. Listenbee, Administrator, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. [FR Doc. 2015–27488 Filed 10–30–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4410–18–P Jkt 238001 Signed at Washington, DC, on October 26, 2015. Carol Pier, Deputy Undersecretary, Bureau of International Labor Affairs. BILLING CODE 4510–28–P President’s Committee on the International Labor Organization Charter Renewal Bureau of International Labor Affairs, Labor. ACTION: Notice of charter renewal. AGENCY: SUMMARY: On September 30, 2015, President Obama continued the President’s Committee on the International Labor Organization (ILO) for two years through September 30, 2017 (E.O. 13708, 80 FR 60271 (October 5, 2015)). In response, and pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), as amended (5 U.S.C. App. 2), the Secretary of Labor renewed the committee’s charter on October 13, 2015. Purpose: The President’s Committee on the International Labor Organization was established in 1980 by Executive Order 12216 to monitor and assess the work of the ILO and make recommendations to the President regarding United States policy towards the ILO. The committee is chaired by the Secretary of Labor and the Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs is responsible for providing the necessary support for the committee. The committee is composed of seven members: The Secretary of Labor (chair), the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Commerce, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, and one representative each from organized labor and the business community, designated by the Secretary. The labor and business members are the presidents of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO) and the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), respectively, as the most representative organizations of U.S. workers and employers engaged in ILO matters. Authority: The authority for this notice is granted by the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App. 2) and Executive Order No. 13708 of September 30, 2015. Robert B. Shepard, Director, Office of 18:55 Oct 30, 2015 International Relations, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor, telephone (202) 693–4808. [FR Doc. 2015–27878 Filed 10–30–15; 8:45 am] DEPARTMENT OF LABOR FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: VerDate Sep<11>2014 67423 PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 DEPARTMENT OF LABOR Mine Safety and Health Administration Petitions for Modification of Application of Existing Mandatory Safety Standards Mine Safety and Health Administration, Labor. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: SUMMARY: 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. This notice is a summary of petitions for modification submitted to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) by the parties listed below. DATES: All comments on the petitions must be received by the MSHA’s Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances on or before December 2, 2015. ADDRESSES: You may submit your comments, identified by ‘‘docket number’’ on the subject line, by any of the following methods: 1. Electronic Mail: zzMSHAcomments@dol.gov. 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, Acting 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 copies of the petitions 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: Barbara Barron, Office of Standards, E:\FR\FM\02NON1.SGM 02NON1 67424 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 211 / Monday, November 2, 2015 / Notices Regulations, and Variances at 202–693– 9447 (Voice), barron.barbara@dol.gov (Email), or 202–693–9441 (Facsimile). [These are not toll-free numbers.] SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 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–2015–004–M. Petitioner: Cementation USA, Inc., 10151 Centennial Parkway, Suite 110, Sandy, Utah 84070. Mine: Eagle Mine, MSHA I.D. No. 20– 03454, located in Marquette County, Michigan. Regulation Affected: 30 CFR 57.15031 (Location of self-rescue devices). Modification Request: The petitioner requests a modification of the existing standard to permit the miners at the Eagle Mine to wear 10-minute Ocenco Self-Contained Self-Rescue (SCSR) Devices on their mine belts in tandem with 1-hour SCSRs located on their vehicles, or equipment being operated within 500 feet or five minutes walking distance from any miner, whichever is less. The petitioner states that: (1) The Eagle Mine is a trackless mining environment that utilizes rubber-tired, diesel- powered equipment. (2) The majority of the work performed in this environment keeps the miners on or near mobile equipment. (3) Mine Emergency Planning requires miners report to refuge chambers during emergencies. (4) There are two 4-person and three 12-person MineARC refuge chambers strategically located underground. (5) Only 48 persons are allowed underground at any given time, based on occupancy ratings of refuge chambers. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:55 Oct 30, 2015 Jkt 238001 (6) Refuge chambers are strategically located and able to be reached within 10-minutes from the working locations. (7) Secondary escape ways are located on each level are able to be reached within 10 minutes from anywhere on the working level. (8) Miners currently carry Drager Oxy 6000 on their mine belt. The Drager Oxy 6000 is an MSHA approved SCSR that weighs 3.5 kg/7.7lbs. (9) The Ocenco M–20 SCSR is an MSHA approved SCSR that weights 3.2 lbs. (10) Miners will frequently catch the release latches of the Oxy 6000 SCSR on equipment handles, requiring replacement of the units. The petitioner proposes to: (1) Require all Cementation miners to wear Ocenco M–20 unit Self-Contained Self-Rescue Devices on their mine belts. (2) Require all Cementation miners to inspect their issued Ocenco M–20 unit on a daily basis (3) Have one Drager Oxy 6000 SCSR per occupant seat located on each piece of Cementation underground equipment or vehicle. (4) Have the equipment operators inspect the Drager Oxy 6000 SCSR stored on Cementation equipment as part of the pre-op inspection. (5) Provide cached six Drager Oxy 6000 SCSRs in each refuge chamber. The SCSRs will be inspected on a weekly basis as part of the weekly refuge chamber inspection. (6) Provide cached five Drager Oxy 6000 SCSRs at the secondary escape way on each working level of the mine. These SCSRs will be inspected on a weekly basis. (7) Store the MSHA Rated SCSRs in a sealed box that is clearly marked with highly visible reflective signage indicated on all escape and evacuation maps posted in the mine. These SCSRs will be inspected on a weekly basis. (8) Provide training for all underground miners quarterly in the use, limitations, care, and inspection of the 10-minue and the 1-hour SCSR devices. This training will include: (a) Hands-on training for all types of self-rescue devices used at the mine, which include: (i) Instruction and demonstration in the use, care, and maintenance of selfrescue devices; and (ii) The complete donning of the SCSR by assuming a donning position, opening the device, activating the device, inserting the mouthpiece, and putting on the nose clip. (b) Hands on training in transferring from a 10-minute SCSR to a 1-hour SCSR. (9) Provide instructor certified training annually for each Cementation PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 miner that will include donning SCSRs in smoke, simulated smoke, or an equivalent environment, and breathing through a realistic SCSR training unit that provides the sensation of SCSR airflow resistance and heat. (10) Have the operator certify by signature and date that the training was conducted according to the conditions in this petition, at the completion of training. This certification will include the names of the miners who participated in the training. (11) The certifications will be made available to the Cementation miner’s representative or an authorized Representative of the Secretary on request. This certificate will be kept at the mine for three years. (12) Inspect all stored 1-hour SCSRs in the mine for defects in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions on a weekly basis and record the results for each device. Records of these inspections will be made available to the miner’s representative and an Authorized Representative of the Secretary on request. Records of these inspections will be maintained for three years. (13) Maintain all SCSRs in good condition. SCSRs that do not function properly will be removed from service and replaced with properly functioning SCSRs. The petitioner asserts that the combination of self-contained selfrescue devices will at all times guarantee no less than the same measure of protection for miners as afforded by the standard. Docket Number: M–2015–005–M. Petitioner: Tronox Alkali Corp., 950 17th Street, Suite 2600, Denver, Colorado 80202. Mine: Tronox Alkali @Westvaco, MSHA I.D. No. 48–00152, located in Sweetwater County, Wyoming. Regulation Affected: 30 CFR 57.4760(a) (Shaft mines). Modification Request: The petitioner requests a modification of the existing standard that recognizes that Tronox Alkali Corp., can utilize a mechanical ventilation reversal process for compliance that at all times, provides the same or a greater degree of protection to persons underground as would be afforded by other methods of compliance (e.g. control doors), and avoids reducing safety by the use of other methods. The petitioner states that: (a) Westvaco is governed in part by 30 CFR 57.22214, which prohibits compliance with 30 CFR 57.4760(a), if controls doors are used. As a Class III underground mine, ‘‘changes in ventilation which affect the E:\FR\FM\02NON1.SGM 02NON1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 211 / Monday, November 2, 2015 / Notices main air current or any split thereof, and which adversely affect the safety of persons in the mine will be made only when the mine is idle,’’ 30 CFR 57.22214(a) (emphasis added). The only persons permitted in the mine during these ventilation changes are the persons making such changes, 30 CFR 57.22214(b). The use of control doors potentially violates the provision and diminishes safety. The actuation of control doors near intake shafts changes the ventilation of the main air current, could occur while the mine is not idle, and may adversely affect safety, even if only performed when fire, smoke, or toxic gases are detected. In contrast, controlled air reversal would only be instituted by management to improve safety by moving combustion gases out of the mine and away from miners. Accordingly, changes in a mine’s ventilation via control doors has the potential to conflict with 30 CFR 57.22214. On the other hand, mechanical ventilation reversal of the airflow would not conflict, thereby providing further reasons for the approval of this petition. b. Empirical testing of the underground airflow confirms that Tronox can accomplish ventilation reversal pursuant to 30 CFR 57.4760(a)(2). Tronox and its predecessor have operated Westvaco since before the Mine Act was enacted. Throughout that time, Westvaco worked with knowledge that, if necessary, a reversal of airflow was always available to control the spread of fire, smoke, and toxic gases. During an April 8, 2015, MSHA spot inspections, the Secretary’s authorized representative issued the Citations to Tronox for alleged violation of the standard. In response to the Citations, Tronox upgraded its ventilation system. Westvaco has three intake shafts (Nos. 8, 5, and 7), each equipped with identical 1500 hp Jeffry 8HU Vane Axial ventilation fans, located on the surface. These fans provide the motive air forced into the mine to maintain a positive pressure, forcing air out of the mine through Shaft Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 9. Tronox engineering upgrades allow the mine’s hoistman to turn off the ventilation fans, individually or in combination, from their workstation. The hoistman’s station is manned during every shift at Westvaco. After the upgrades were complete, Tronox performed engineering tests and analyses to confirm that the on-duty hoistman could mechanically reverse the ventilation airflow in the mine by turning off the main fans in various permutations. Specifically, by turning VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:55 Oct 30, 2015 Jkt 238001 off one of the three main fans that force air into the mine, Tronox is able to maintain positive pressure while simultaneously directing the flow of air toward a different exhaust shaft. Tronox tested the fans’ effect on underground airflow with anemometers, smoke tubes, pressure transducers, and synchronized watches. During the test, Tronox turned off each ventilation fan and measured the airflow direction, velocity, and pressure fluctuations at the bottom of the shaft, before and after each fan was de-energized. The airflow direction was cross-checked at the top of the shaft to validate the findings underground. The pressure transducers at the top and bottom of the intake shaft were set to log pressure readings every five seconds. The testing showed a quantifiable change in the direction of the underground airflow near each of the shaft stations, which would control the spread of smoke and toxic gases underground in the event of a fire. 1. When the 8 Shaft fan is operating the airflow in the vicinity traveled away from the 8 Shaft, through the east and southern passageways, towards the longwall. The anemometer and smoke tube recorded the velocity of the airflow in the area. When the 8 Shaft fan is turned off, the direction of the airflow reversed in less than two minutes, and the 8 Shaft transitioned from an intake shaft to an exhaust shaft. The velocity of the airflow, now traveling towards the 8 Shaft, was measured between 35 and 125 feet per minute. Most important when the 8 Shaft fan was running the airflow in the three passageways—east, south, and southwest—emanating from the 8 Shaft had been towards the 5 Shaft and 7 Shaft. With the 8 Shaft turn off, the airflow in these three passages reversed, traveling towards the 8 Shaft and away from the 5 Shaft and 7 Shaft. In the event Westvaco experiences a fire in the southern section of the mine, by turning off the 8 Shaft fan, the change in air pressure would force the smoke and toxic gases to travel towards and exit the mine through the 8 Shaft. At the same time, fresh air from the 5 Shaft and 7 Shaft main fans would fill the passageways used by the miners to reach the two designated escape routes at the 5 Shaft and 7 Shaft, and would enhance the safety of the evacuation in a means comparable to, or exceeding the safety provided by the control doors. 2. When the 5 Shaft is operating, the airflow in the vicinity traveled away from the 5 Shaft through the north, west, and southern passageways. The anemometers recorded the velocity of the airflow in this area. PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 67425 When the 5 Shaft was turned off, once again the direction of the airflow reversed in less than two minutes, and the 5 Shaft transitioned from an intake shaft to an exhaust shaft. The velocity of the airflow, now traveling towards the 5 Shaft, was measured between 140 and 195 feet per minute. Similar to the 8 Shaft, when the 5 Shaft fan was running, the airflow in the three adjacent passageways—east, south, and southwest—emanating from the 5 Shaft had been towards the 8 Shaft and the 7 Shaft. With the 5 Shaft fan turned off, the airflow in these three passages reversed, traveling towards the 5 Shaft and away from the 8 Shaft and the 7 Shaft. In the event Westvaco experienced a fire in the central section of the mine, by turning off the 5 Shaft fan, the change in air pressure would force the smoke and toxic gases to travel towards and exit the mine through the 5 Shaft. At the same time, fresh air from the 8 Shaft and the 7 Shaft main fans would fill the northern and southern passageways, would provide the miners with good air as they progressed to the 8 Shaft primary hoist or the 7 Shaft northern escape route, and would enhance the safety of the evacuation in a means comparable to or exceeding the safety provided by control doors. 3. When the 7 Shaft fan is operating the airflow in the vicinity traveled away from the 7 Shaft, through west passageway. The anemometer recorded the velocity of the airflow in the area. When the 7 Shaft fan was turned off, the direction of the airflow reversed in less than two minutes, and the 7 Shaft transitioned from an intake shaft to an exhaust shaft. The velocity of the airflow, now traveling towards the 7 Shaft, was measured at 195 feet per minute. The 7 Shaft is on the northern side of the mine, and the intake air travels from the 7 Shaft down a westward passageway before joining the airstream supplied by the 5 Shaft in the center of the mine. With the 7 Shaft fan turned off, the airflow in the northern section of the mine is reversed, and the air supplied by the 5 Shaft flows into the northern section and exhausts through the 7 Shaft. In the event Westvaco experienced a fire in the norther section of the mine, by turning off the 7 Shaft fan, the change in air pressure would force the smoke and toxic gases to travel towards and exit the mine through the 7 Shaft. At the same time, fresh air from the 5 Shaft main fan would fill the northern section passageways, would provide the miners with good air as they progressed to the 8 Shaft primary hoist or the 5 Shaft escape route, and would enhance the safety of the evacuation in E:\FR\FM\02NON1.SGM 02NON1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 67426 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 211 / Monday, November 2, 2015 / Notices a means comparable to, or exceeding the safety provided by control doors. 4. Overall results of engineering upgrades and Westvaco conditions. Based on the empirical data gathered from Tronox’ testing, the upgrades permit the reversal of the direction of the airflow underground in all sections of the mine within two minutes. This performance demonstration, when used in accordance with the Westvaco Emergency Control Plan, readily complies with subsection (a)(2) of the standard, and provides equivalent or improved protection as compared to subsection (a)(1) of the standard, while preventing a potential diminution of safety from other compliance methods. Control doors in an underground mine are intended to constrain or restrict airflow and ventilation in an attempt to isolate fire, smoke, and toxic gases. By isolating these hazards, control doors (in theory) prevent airflow migrating from the hazardous area to sections of the mine that can expel any hazardous gases or smoke. By isolating various sections of a mine and restricting the ventilation, control doors potentially trap smoke and toxic gases in areas miners may need to travel in order to reach operational hoists and escapeways. However, the ability to mechanically reverse the ventilation airflow in designated sections of the mine, not only draws smoke and toxic gases away from egress points, it provide a source of fresh air into the areas where miners are located. c. The installation of control doors at Westvaco could result in a diminution of safety by reducing or eliminating ventilation during an evacuation. The purpose of the standard is to ‘‘control the spread of fire, smoke and toxic gases.’’ The first alternative to comply with the Standard envisions the installation of control doors. The second alternative envisions mechanical ventilation reversal, 30 CFR 57.4760(a). The alternatives are mutually exclusive. If Tronox is forced to implement the first alternative, and the installed control doors were actuated in response to an emergency, Westvaco’s main fans at the affected intake shafts would be isolated and rendered ineffective. The fans, if left running would be forcing air into closed shafts, and the motors would be forced out of their operating ranges and likely stalled, resulting in a loss of ventilation in passageways adjoining the closed control doors. Conversely, Tronox’ procedures were tested and proven to reverse the airflow in the mine with the shutdown of a main fan. Requiring Tronox to install control doors would restrict this airflow reversal, and would likely increase the VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:55 Oct 30, 2015 Jkt 238001 accumulation of smoke and toxic gases in areas confined between any control doors that closed in an emergency. A better solution to protect the health and safety of the evacuating miners would affirm that an airflow reversal will draw smoke and toxic gases out of the shaft, rather than accumulating underground where miners are still evacuating. Moreover, compliance with 30 CFR 57.4760(a)(2), which specifically authorizes airflow reversal, provides a greater or equal level to safety than the use of control doors. By continuing to operate fans at the unaffected intake shafts, Westvaco is maintaining positive pressure, impeding the geological formation from degassing, and reducing the amount of methane in the mine. The airflow reversal provides a superior measure of protection than the alternatives, which would not impede degassing of subsurface methane into the workplace. 1. The alternate solution contemplated by 30 CFR 57.4760(a)(1), control doors, will result in a diminution of safety to miners at Westvaco, as compared to Tronox’ installed engineering upgrades that produce air reversal capability for use in a manner consistent with its escape and evacuation plan. If the control doors for all three shafts were actuated in response to an emergency, all three ventilation fans would have to be turned off. Turning off all three fans and having the control doors closed would put Westvaco in a more hazardous situation than utilizing intentional reverse airflow ventilation because: (a) Contaminated air near the fire may not be forced up the designated exhaust shaft needed to provide safety for the miners; and (b) there may be no ventilation source for the miners along the escape routes or in the shafts. In addition, the standard requires that control doors be constructed so that they can be opened from either side by one person, or be provided with a personnel door that can be opened from either side, 30 CFR 57.4760(a)(1)(vi). Although this requirement for control doors to have a method that allows miners to pass through them to reach the intake shaft makes sense from an entrapment standpoint, the fact that the doors may be opened during an emergency creates the potential for toxic gases to migrate from one side of the door to the other. In addition, opening and closing control doors or personnel doors during an emergency creates the potential for the door to be accidentally opened or left open. 2. Tronox’ implementation of mechanical ventilation reversal meets the criteria required by 30 CFR 44.4(a). PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 As demonstrated by Tronox’ testing, analysis, and Westvaco’s layout, Tronox’ ability to remotely reverse fan ventilation enables Tronox to direct, as opposed to simply restrict, the flow of air underground during a fire. Airflow reversal would be used only in emergencies, with the approval of the mine Manager/Disaster Director or his/ her designee. In the event of an emergency, the Disaster Director will continually assess the location of the miners and the location of the fire and/ or smoke source, and the 8, 5, and 7 Shafts will be maintained as air intake shafts to provide fresh air underground. In the event that the Disaster Director determines that air reversal via the shutdown of airflow from one of these intake shafts is necessary to control the spread of fire, smoke, or toxic gases, and will not adversely affect the evacuation, the Disaster Director will coordinate with the Ventilation Coordinator the shutdown of a main fan to reverse the airflow in the desired area. The Safety Coordinator, pursuant to Westvaco’ Emergency Control Plan, will inform MSHA of the airflow reversal. For example, the Disaster Director would order the fan at the 8 Shaft to be turned off in the event there is a fire or smoke in the southern section of the mine, and miners are to the north of the fire or smoke source. If the Disaster Director determines that the drop in air pressure would force smoke and toxic gases to travel toward Shaft No. 8, and allow fresh air to flow from the 7 Shaft and 5 Shaft, the Disaster Director would direct the Ventilation Coordinator to shut down the 8 Shaft’s main fan. During this reversal of airflow, the air in the east, and south passageways emanating from the 8 Shaft would now exhaust through the 8 Shaft as the miners underground continued to execute their trained response—to evacuate in fresh air by a secondary escape route. In contrast to control doors, which merely segregate the intake shafts and mine passageways into isolated or unventilated zones and can be accidently closed or left open. Tronox’ use of mechanical ventilation reversal can provide beneficial affects to the entire mine. The ventilation reversal can draw air, smoke, and toxic gases near the fire away from the remainder of the mine on a continual basis as the miners egress. Ventilation reversal allows miners to arrive at each shaft station without having to stop to open a control/ personnel door and then close it behind them. Moreover, the positive effects of the ventilation reversal are preserved as the miners reach the shaft stations. In E:\FR\FM\02NON1.SGM 02NON1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 211 / Monday, November 2, 2015 / Notices contrast, a control door’s integrity and the isolation at each door’s location are breached every time an egressing miner opens the control door. Notwithstanding the fact that Tronox’ use of mechanical ventilation reversal is entirely consistent with 30 CFR 57.4760(a), Tronox recognizes that the benefits of this engineering solution will be maximized with additional training for its miners. If this petition is approved, Tronox proposes to provide additional training, beyond its current Part 48 training, that will instruct miners and supervisors on the ventilation reversal capability upgrades and the condition and procedures for their use during emergencies. Tronox continues to maintain that its engineering upgrades at Westvaco, along with its evacuation and escape plans, comply with the standard, 30 CFR 57.4760(a)(2), and the citations should be terminated. Nevertheless, in the alternative to the extent MSHA contends that control doors or other abatement means are required, Tronox respectfully requests MSHA grant this petition for modification of the standard. For the reasons discussed above, permitting Tronox to mechanically reverse the ventilation, in conjunction with the proposed additional training measures, provides equal or greater protection to the miners than installing control doors that will constrict airflow underground. In addition, the imposition of 30 CFR 57.4760(a)(1) at Westvaco, as applied by MSHA, as opposed to the application of 30 CFR 57.4760(a)(2) as described herein, will result in a diminution of safety to the miners at Westvaco. The petitioner asserts that application of the existing standard will result in a diminution of safety to the miners and that the proposed alternative method will at all times guarantee no less than the same measure of protection afforded by the existing standard. Sheila McConnell, Acting Director, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances. [FR Doc. 2015–27820 Filed 10–30–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4520–43–P asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR Mine Safety and Health Administration [OMB Control No. 1219–0054] Proposed Extension of Information Collection; Fire Protection (Underground Coal Mines) Mine Safety and Health Administration, Labor. AGENCY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:55 Oct 30, 2015 Jkt 238001 ACTION: Request for public comments. SUMMARY: The Department of Labor, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, conducts a pre-clearance consultation program to provide the general public and Federal agencies with an opportunity to comment on proposed collections of information in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A). This program helps to assure that requested data can be provided in the desired format, reporting burden (time and financial resources) is minimized, collection instruments are clearly understood, and the impact of collection requirements on respondents can be properly assessed. Currently, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is soliciting comments on the information collection for Fire Protection (Underground Coal Mines). DATES: All comments must be received on or before January 4, 2016. ADDRESSES: Comments concerning the information collection requirements of this notice may be sent by any of the methods listed below. • Federal E-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the on-line instructions for submitting comments for docket number MSHA– 2015–0032. • Regular Mail: Send comments to USDOL–MSHA, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances, 201 12th Street South, Suite 4E401, Arlington, VA 22202–5452. • Hand Delivery: USDOL-Mine Safety and Health Administration, 201 12th Street South, Suite 4E401, Arlington, VA 22202–5452. Sign in at the receptionist’s desk on the 4th floor via the East elevator. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sheila McConnell, Acting Director, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances, MSHA, at MSHA.information.collections@dol.gov (email); 202–693–9440 (voice); or 202– 693–9441 (facsimile). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background Fire protection standards for underground coal mines are based on section 311(a) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (Mine Act). 30 CFR 75.1100 requires that each coal mine be provided with suitable firefighting equipment adapted for the size and conditions of the mine, and that the Secretary of Labor shall establish minimum requirements of the type, quality, and quantity of such equipment. PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 67427 30 CFR 75.1100–3 requires that chemical fire extinguishers be examined every 6 months and that the date of the examination be recorded on a permanent tag attached to the extinguisher. 30 CFR 75.1103–5(a)(2)(ii) requires that a map or schematic be updated within 24 hours of any change in the locations of automatic fire warning sensors and the intended air flow direction at these locations. This map or schematic would be kept at a manned surface location where personnel have an assigned post of duty. 30 CFR 75.1103–8(a) requires that a qualified person examine the automatic fire sensor and warning device systems on a weekly basis and conduct a functional test of the complete system at least once every seven days. Section 75.1103–8(b) requires that a record of the weekly automatic fire sensor functional tests be maintained by the mine operator and kept for a period of one year. 30 CFR 75.1103–8(c) requires that sensors be calibrated in accordance with the manufacturer’s calibration instructions at intervals not to exceed 31 days. Records of the sensor calibrations must be maintained by the operator and kept for a period of one year. 30 CFR 75.1103–11 requires that each fire hydrant and hose be tested at least once a year and the records of those tests be maintained at an appropriate location. 30 CFR 75.1501(a)(3) requires the operator to certify that each responsible person is trained and that the certification is maintained at the mine for at least one year. 30 CFR 75.1502 requires each mine operator to adopt and follow a mine evacuation and firefighting program of instruction that addresses all mine emergencies created as a result of a fire, an explosion, or a gas or water inundation. In addition, this section requires mine operators to submit this program of instruction, and any revisions, to MSHA for its approval and to train miners regarding the use of the program of instruction, and any revisions to such program of instruction, after it is approved by MSHA. II. Desired Focus of Comments MSHA is soliciting comments concerning the proposed information collection related to Fire Protection (Underground Coal Mines). MSHA is particularly interested in comments that: • Evaluate whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the E:\FR\FM\02NON1.SGM 02NON1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 211 (Monday, November 2, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 67423-67427]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-27820]


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DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

Mine Safety and Health Administration


Petitions for Modification of Application of Existing Mandatory 
Safety Standards

AGENCY: Mine Safety and Health Administration, Labor.

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: 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. 
This notice is a summary of petitions for modification submitted to the 
Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) by the parties listed 
below.

DATES: All comments on the petitions must be received by the MSHA's 
Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances on or before December 
2, 2015.

ADDRESSES: You may submit your comments, identified by ``docket 
number'' on the subject line, by any of the following methods:
    1. Electronic Mail: zzMSHA-comments@dol.gov. 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, Acting 
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 copies of the petitions 
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: Barbara Barron, Office of Standards,

[[Page 67424]]

Regulations, and Variances at 202-693-9447 (Voice), 
barron.barbara@dol.gov (Email), or 202-693-9441 (Facsimile). [These are 
not toll-free numbers.]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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-2015-004-M.
    Petitioner: Cementation USA, Inc., 10151 Centennial Parkway, Suite 
110, Sandy, Utah 84070.
    Mine: Eagle Mine, MSHA I.D. No. 20-03454, located in Marquette 
County, Michigan.
    Regulation Affected: 30 CFR 57.15031 (Location of self-rescue 
devices).
    Modification Request: The petitioner requests a modification of the 
existing standard to permit the miners at the Eagle Mine to wear 10-
minute Ocenco Self-Contained Self-Rescue (SCSR) Devices on their mine 
belts in tandem with 1-hour SCSRs located on their vehicles, or 
equipment being operated within 500 feet or five minutes walking 
distance from any miner, whichever is less. The petitioner states that:
    (1) The Eagle Mine is a trackless mining environment that utilizes 
rubber-tired, diesel- powered equipment.
    (2) The majority of the work performed in this environment keeps 
the miners on or near mobile equipment.
    (3) Mine Emergency Planning requires miners report to refuge 
chambers during emergencies.
    (4) There are two 4-person and three 12-person MineARC refuge 
chambers strategically located underground.
    (5) Only 48 persons are allowed underground at any given time, 
based on occupancy ratings of refuge chambers.
    (6) Refuge chambers are strategically located and able to be 
reached within 10-minutes from the working locations.
    (7) Secondary escape ways are located on each level are able to be 
reached within 10 minutes from anywhere on the working level.
    (8) Miners currently carry Drager Oxy 6000 on their mine belt. The 
Drager Oxy 6000 is an MSHA approved SCSR that weighs 3.5 kg/7.7lbs.
    (9) The Ocenco M-20 SCSR is an MSHA approved SCSR that weights 3.2 
lbs.
    (10) Miners will frequently catch the release latches of the Oxy 
6000 SCSR on equipment handles, requiring replacement of the units.
    The petitioner proposes to:
    (1) Require all Cementation miners to wear Ocenco M-20 unit Self-
Contained Self-Rescue Devices on their mine belts.
    (2) Require all Cementation miners to inspect their issued Ocenco 
M-20 unit on a daily basis
    (3) Have one Drager Oxy 6000 SCSR per occupant seat located on each 
piece of Cementation underground equipment or vehicle.
    (4) Have the equipment operators inspect the Drager Oxy 6000 SCSR 
stored on Cementation equipment as part of the pre-op inspection.
    (5) Provide cached six Drager Oxy 6000 SCSRs in each refuge 
chamber. The SCSRs will be inspected on a weekly basis as part of the 
weekly refuge chamber inspection.
    (6) Provide cached five Drager Oxy 6000 SCSRs at the secondary 
escape way on each working level of the mine. These SCSRs will be 
inspected on a weekly basis.
    (7) Store the MSHA Rated SCSRs in a sealed box that is clearly 
marked with highly visible reflective signage indicated on all escape 
and evacuation maps posted in the mine. These SCSRs will be inspected 
on a weekly basis.
    (8) Provide training for all underground miners quarterly in the 
use, limitations, care, and inspection of the 10-minue and the 1-hour 
SCSR devices. This training will include:
    (a) Hands-on training for all types of self-rescue devices used at 
the mine, which include:
    (i) Instruction and demonstration in the use, care, and maintenance 
of self-rescue devices; and
    (ii) The complete donning of the SCSR by assuming a donning 
position, opening the device, activating the device, inserting the 
mouthpiece, and putting on the nose clip.
    (b) Hands on training in transferring from a 10-minute SCSR to a 1-
hour SCSR.
    (9) Provide instructor certified training annually for each 
Cementation miner that will include donning SCSRs in smoke, simulated 
smoke, or an equivalent environment, and breathing through a realistic 
SCSR training unit that provides the sensation of SCSR airflow 
resistance and heat.
    (10) Have the operator certify by signature and date that the 
training was conducted according to the conditions in this petition, at 
the completion of training. This certification will include the names 
of the miners who participated in the training.
    (11) The certifications will be made available to the Cementation 
miner's representative or an authorized Representative of the Secretary 
on request. This certificate will be kept at the mine for three years.
    (12) Inspect all stored 1-hour SCSRs in the mine for defects in 
accordance with the manufacturer's instructions on a weekly basis and 
record the results for each device. Records of these inspections will 
be made available to the miner's representative and an Authorized 
Representative of the Secretary on request. Records of these 
inspections will be maintained for three years.
    (13) Maintain all SCSRs in good condition. SCSRs that do not 
function properly will be removed from service and replaced with 
properly functioning SCSRs.
    The petitioner asserts that the combination of self-contained self-
rescue devices will at all times guarantee no less than the same 
measure of protection for miners as afforded by the standard.
    Docket Number: M-2015-005-M.
    Petitioner: Tronox Alkali Corp., 950 17th Street, Suite 2600, 
Denver, Colorado 80202.
    Mine: Tronox Alkali @Westvaco, MSHA I.D. No. 48-00152, located in 
Sweetwater County, Wyoming.
    Regulation Affected: 30 CFR 57.4760(a) (Shaft mines).
    Modification Request: The petitioner requests a modification of the 
existing standard that recognizes that Tronox Alkali Corp., can utilize 
a mechanical ventilation reversal process for compliance that at all 
times, provides the same or a greater degree of protection to persons 
underground as would be afforded by other methods of compliance (e.g. 
control doors), and avoids reducing safety by the use of other methods. 
The petitioner states that:
    (a) Westvaco is governed in part by 30 CFR 57.22214, which 
prohibits compliance with 30 CFR 57.4760(a), if controls doors are 
used.
    As a Class III underground mine, ``changes in ventilation which 
affect the

[[Page 67425]]

main air current or any split thereof, and which adversely affect the 
safety of persons in the mine will be made only when the mine is 
idle,'' 30 CFR 57.22214(a) (emphasis added). The only persons permitted 
in the mine during these ventilation changes are the persons making 
such changes, 30 CFR 57.22214(b). The use of control doors potentially 
violates the provision and diminishes safety.
    The actuation of control doors near intake shafts changes the 
ventilation of the main air current, could occur while the mine is not 
idle, and may adversely affect safety, even if only performed when 
fire, smoke, or toxic gases are detected. In contrast, controlled air 
reversal would only be instituted by management to improve safety by 
moving combustion gases out of the mine and away from miners. 
Accordingly, changes in a mine's ventilation via control doors has the 
potential to conflict with 30 CFR 57.22214. On the other hand, 
mechanical ventilation reversal of the airflow would not conflict, 
thereby providing further reasons for the approval of this petition.
    b. Empirical testing of the underground airflow confirms that 
Tronox can accomplish ventilation reversal pursuant to 30 CFR 
57.4760(a)(2).
    Tronox and its predecessor have operated Westvaco since before the 
Mine Act was enacted. Throughout that time, Westvaco worked with 
knowledge that, if necessary, a reversal of airflow was always 
available to control the spread of fire, smoke, and toxic gases.
    During an April 8, 2015, MSHA spot inspections, the Secretary's 
authorized representative issued the Citations to Tronox for alleged 
violation of the standard. In response to the Citations, Tronox 
upgraded its ventilation system. Westvaco has three intake shafts (Nos. 
8, 5, and 7), each equipped with identical 1500 hp Jeffry 8HU Vane 
Axial ventilation fans, located on the surface. These fans provide the 
motive air forced into the mine to maintain a positive pressure, 
forcing air out of the mine through Shaft Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 9. 
Tronox engineering upgrades allow the mine's hoistman to turn off the 
ventilation fans, individually or in combination, from their 
workstation. The hoistman's station is manned during every shift at 
Westvaco.
    After the upgrades were complete, Tronox performed engineering 
tests and analyses to confirm that the on-duty hoistman could 
mechanically reverse the ventilation airflow in the mine by turning off 
the main fans in various permutations. Specifically, by turning off one 
of the three main fans that force air into the mine, Tronox is able to 
maintain positive pressure while simultaneously directing the flow of 
air toward a different exhaust shaft.
    Tronox tested the fans' effect on underground airflow with 
anemometers, smoke tubes, pressure transducers, and synchronized 
watches. During the test, Tronox turned off each ventilation fan and 
measured the airflow direction, velocity, and pressure fluctuations at 
the bottom of the shaft, before and after each fan was de-energized. 
The airflow direction was cross-checked at the top of the shaft to 
validate the findings underground. The pressure transducers at the top 
and bottom of the intake shaft were set to log pressure readings every 
five seconds. The testing showed a quantifiable change in the direction 
of the underground airflow near each of the shaft stations, which would 
control the spread of smoke and toxic gases underground in the event of 
a fire.
    1. When the 8 Shaft fan is operating the airflow in the vicinity 
traveled away from the 8 Shaft, through the east and southern 
passageways, towards the longwall. The anemometer and smoke tube 
recorded the velocity of the airflow in the area.
    When the 8 Shaft fan is turned off, the direction of the airflow 
reversed in less than two minutes, and the 8 Shaft transitioned from an 
intake shaft to an exhaust shaft. The velocity of the airflow, now 
traveling towards the 8 Shaft, was measured between 35 and 125 feet per 
minute.
    Most important when the 8 Shaft fan was running the airflow in the 
three passageways--east, south, and southwest--emanating from the 8 
Shaft had been towards the 5 Shaft and 7 Shaft. With the 8 Shaft turn 
off, the airflow in these three passages reversed, traveling towards 
the 8 Shaft and away from the 5 Shaft and 7 Shaft. In the event 
Westvaco experiences a fire in the southern section of the mine, by 
turning off the 8 Shaft fan, the change in air pressure would force the 
smoke and toxic gases to travel towards and exit the mine through the 8 
Shaft. At the same time, fresh air from the 5 Shaft and 7 Shaft main 
fans would fill the passageways used by the miners to reach the two 
designated escape routes at the 5 Shaft and 7 Shaft, and would enhance 
the safety of the evacuation in a means comparable to, or exceeding the 
safety provided by the control doors.
    2. When the 5 Shaft is operating, the airflow in the vicinity 
traveled away from the 5 Shaft through the north, west, and southern 
passageways. The anemometers recorded the velocity of the airflow in 
this area.
    When the 5 Shaft was turned off, once again the direction of the 
airflow reversed in less than two minutes, and the 5 Shaft transitioned 
from an intake shaft to an exhaust shaft. The velocity of the airflow, 
now traveling towards the 5 Shaft, was measured between 140 and 195 
feet per minute.
    Similar to the 8 Shaft, when the 5 Shaft fan was running, the 
airflow in the three adjacent passageways--east, south, and southwest--
emanating from the 5 Shaft had been towards the 8 Shaft and the 7 
Shaft. With the 5 Shaft fan turned off, the airflow in these three 
passages reversed, traveling towards the 5 Shaft and away from the 8 
Shaft and the 7 Shaft. In the event Westvaco experienced a fire in the 
central section of the mine, by turning off the 5 Shaft fan, the change 
in air pressure would force the smoke and toxic gases to travel towards 
and exit the mine through the 5 Shaft. At the same time, fresh air from 
the 8 Shaft and the 7 Shaft main fans would fill the northern and 
southern passageways, would provide the miners with good air as they 
progressed to the 8 Shaft primary hoist or the 7 Shaft northern escape 
route, and would enhance the safety of the evacuation in a means 
comparable to or exceeding the safety provided by control doors.
    3. When the 7 Shaft fan is operating the airflow in the vicinity 
traveled away from the 7 Shaft, through west passageway. The anemometer 
recorded the velocity of the airflow in the area.
    When the 7 Shaft fan was turned off, the direction of the airflow 
reversed in less than two minutes, and the 7 Shaft transitioned from an 
intake shaft to an exhaust shaft. The velocity of the airflow, now 
traveling towards the 7 Shaft, was measured at 195 feet per minute.
    The 7 Shaft is on the northern side of the mine, and the intake air 
travels from the 7 Shaft down a westward passageway before joining the 
airstream supplied by the 5 Shaft in the center of the mine. With the 7 
Shaft fan turned off, the airflow in the northern section of the mine 
is reversed, and the air supplied by the 5 Shaft flows into the 
northern section and exhausts through the 7 Shaft. In the event 
Westvaco experienced a fire in the norther section of the mine, by 
turning off the 7 Shaft fan, the change in air pressure would force the 
smoke and toxic gases to travel towards and exit the mine through the 7 
Shaft. At the same time, fresh air from the 5 Shaft main fan would fill 
the northern section passageways, would provide the miners with good 
air as they progressed to the 8 Shaft primary hoist or the 5 Shaft 
escape route, and would enhance the safety of the evacuation in

[[Page 67426]]

a means comparable to, or exceeding the safety provided by control 
doors.
    4. Overall results of engineering upgrades and Westvaco conditions. 
Based on the empirical data gathered from Tronox' testing, the upgrades 
permit the reversal of the direction of the airflow underground in all 
sections of the mine within two minutes. This performance 
demonstration, when used in accordance with the Westvaco Emergency 
Control Plan, readily complies with subsection (a)(2) of the standard, 
and provides equivalent or improved protection as compared to 
subsection (a)(1) of the standard, while preventing a potential 
diminution of safety from other compliance methods.
    Control doors in an underground mine are intended to constrain or 
restrict airflow and ventilation in an attempt to isolate fire, smoke, 
and toxic gases. By isolating these hazards, control doors (in theory) 
prevent airflow migrating from the hazardous area to sections of the 
mine that can expel any hazardous gases or smoke. By isolating various 
sections of a mine and restricting the ventilation, control doors 
potentially trap smoke and toxic gases in areas miners may need to 
travel in order to reach operational hoists and escapeways. However, 
the ability to mechanically reverse the ventilation airflow in 
designated sections of the mine, not only draws smoke and toxic gases 
away from egress points, it provide a source of fresh air into the 
areas where miners are located.
    c. The installation of control doors at Westvaco could result in a 
diminution of safety by reducing or eliminating ventilation during an 
evacuation. The purpose of the standard is to ``control the spread of 
fire, smoke and toxic gases.'' The first alternative to comply with the 
Standard envisions the installation of control doors. The second 
alternative envisions mechanical ventilation reversal, 30 CFR 
57.4760(a). The alternatives are mutually exclusive. If Tronox is 
forced to implement the first alternative, and the installed control 
doors were actuated in response to an emergency, Westvaco's main fans 
at the affected intake shafts would be isolated and rendered 
ineffective. The fans, if left running would be forcing air into closed 
shafts, and the motors would be forced out of their operating ranges 
and likely stalled, resulting in a loss of ventilation in passageways 
adjoining the closed control doors.
    Conversely, Tronox' procedures were tested and proven to reverse 
the airflow in the mine with the shutdown of a main fan. Requiring 
Tronox to install control doors would restrict this airflow reversal, 
and would likely increase the accumulation of smoke and toxic gases in 
areas confined between any control doors that closed in an emergency. A 
better solution to protect the health and safety of the evacuating 
miners would affirm that an airflow reversal will draw smoke and toxic 
gases out of the shaft, rather than accumulating underground where 
miners are still evacuating.
    Moreover, compliance with 30 CFR 57.4760(a)(2), which specifically 
authorizes airflow reversal, provides a greater or equal level to 
safety than the use of control doors. By continuing to operate fans at 
the unaffected intake shafts, Westvaco is maintaining positive 
pressure, impeding the geological formation from degassing, and 
reducing the amount of methane in the mine. The airflow reversal 
provides a superior measure of protection than the alternatives, which 
would not impede degassing of subsurface methane into the workplace.
    1. The alternate solution contemplated by 30 CFR 57.4760(a)(1), 
control doors, will result in a diminution of safety to miners at 
Westvaco, as compared to Tronox' installed engineering upgrades that 
produce air reversal capability for use in a manner consistent with its 
escape and evacuation plan. If the control doors for all three shafts 
were actuated in response to an emergency, all three ventilation fans 
would have to be turned off. Turning off all three fans and having the 
control doors closed would put Westvaco in a more hazardous situation 
than utilizing intentional reverse airflow ventilation because: (a) 
Contaminated air near the fire may not be forced up the designated 
exhaust shaft needed to provide safety for the miners; and (b) there 
may be no ventilation source for the miners along the escape routes or 
in the shafts.
    In addition, the standard requires that control doors be 
constructed so that they can be opened from either side by one person, 
or be provided with a personnel door that can be opened from either 
side, 30 CFR 57.4760(a)(1)(vi). Although this requirement for control 
doors to have a method that allows miners to pass through them to reach 
the intake shaft makes sense from an entrapment standpoint, the fact 
that the doors may be opened during an emergency creates the potential 
for toxic gases to migrate from one side of the door to the other. In 
addition, opening and closing control doors or personnel doors during 
an emergency creates the potential for the door to be accidentally 
opened or left open.
    2. Tronox' implementation of mechanical ventilation reversal meets 
the criteria required by 30 CFR 44.4(a). As demonstrated by Tronox' 
testing, analysis, and Westvaco's layout, Tronox' ability to remotely 
reverse fan ventilation enables Tronox to direct, as opposed to simply 
restrict, the flow of air underground during a fire. Airflow reversal 
would be used only in emergencies, with the approval of the mine 
Manager/Disaster Director or his/her designee. In the event of an 
emergency, the Disaster Director will continually assess the location 
of the miners and the location of the fire and/or smoke source, and the 
8, 5, and 7 Shafts will be maintained as air intake shafts to provide 
fresh air underground. In the event that the Disaster Director 
determines that air reversal via the shutdown of airflow from one of 
these intake shafts is necessary to control the spread of fire, smoke, 
or toxic gases, and will not adversely affect the evacuation, the 
Disaster Director will coordinate with the Ventilation Coordinator the 
shutdown of a main fan to reverse the airflow in the desired area. The 
Safety Coordinator, pursuant to Westvaco' Emergency Control Plan, will 
inform MSHA of the airflow reversal.
    For example, the Disaster Director would order the fan at the 8 
Shaft to be turned off in the event there is a fire or smoke in the 
southern section of the mine, and miners are to the north of the fire 
or smoke source. If the Disaster Director determines that the drop in 
air pressure would force smoke and toxic gases to travel toward Shaft 
No. 8, and allow fresh air to flow from the 7 Shaft and 5 Shaft, the 
Disaster Director would direct the Ventilation Coordinator to shut down 
the 8 Shaft's main fan. During this reversal of airflow, the air in the 
east, and south passageways emanating from the 8 Shaft would now 
exhaust through the 8 Shaft as the miners underground continued to 
execute their trained response--to evacuate in fresh air by a secondary 
escape route.
    In contrast to control doors, which merely segregate the intake 
shafts and mine passageways into isolated or unventilated zones and can 
be accidently closed or left open. Tronox' use of mechanical 
ventilation reversal can provide beneficial affects to the entire mine. 
The ventilation reversal can draw air, smoke, and toxic gases near the 
fire away from the remainder of the mine on a continual basis as the 
miners egress.
    Ventilation reversal allows miners to arrive at each shaft station 
without having to stop to open a control/personnel door and then close 
it behind them. Moreover, the positive effects of the ventilation 
reversal are preserved as the miners reach the shaft stations. In

[[Page 67427]]

contrast, a control door's integrity and the isolation at each door's 
location are breached every time an egressing miner opens the control 
door.
    Notwithstanding the fact that Tronox' use of mechanical ventilation 
reversal is entirely consistent with 30 CFR 57.4760(a), Tronox 
recognizes that the benefits of this engineering solution will be 
maximized with additional training for its miners. If this petition is 
approved, Tronox proposes to provide additional training, beyond its 
current Part 48 training, that will instruct miners and supervisors on 
the ventilation reversal capability upgrades and the condition and 
procedures for their use during emergencies.
    Tronox continues to maintain that its engineering upgrades at 
Westvaco, along with its evacuation and escape plans, comply with the 
standard, 30 CFR 57.4760(a)(2), and the citations should be terminated. 
Nevertheless, in the alternative to the extent MSHA contends that 
control doors or other abatement means are required, Tronox 
respectfully requests MSHA grant this petition for modification of the 
standard. For the reasons discussed above, permitting Tronox to 
mechanically reverse the ventilation, in conjunction with the proposed 
additional training measures, provides equal or greater protection to 
the miners than installing control doors that will constrict airflow 
underground. In addition, the imposition of 30 CFR 57.4760(a)(1) at 
Westvaco, as applied by MSHA, as opposed to the application of 30 CFR 
57.4760(a)(2) as described herein, will result in a diminution of 
safety to the miners at Westvaco.
    The petitioner asserts that application of the existing standard 
will result in a diminution of safety to the miners and that the 
proposed alternative method will at all times guarantee no less than 
the same measure of protection afforded by the existing standard.

Sheila McConnell,
Acting Director, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances.
[FR Doc. 2015-27820 Filed 10-30-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4520-43-P