Petition for Modification of Application of Existing Mandatory Safety Standard, 70569-70572 [2019-27574]

Download as PDF lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Notices information collection. The Department will use the comments as it seeks to revise and extend OMB authorization under the PRA for this information collection. II. Review Focus: The Department is particularly interested in comments which: • Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; • evaluate the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; • enhance the quality, utility and clarity of the information to be collected; and • minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology. III. Current Actions: The Department seeks to revise this information collection to provide for electronic filing. The information collected by OLMS is used by union members to help self-govern their unions, by workers making decisions regarding their collective bargaining rights, by the general public, and as research material for both outside researchers and within the Department. The information is also used to assist the Department and other government agencies in detecting improper practices on the part of labor organizations, their officers and/or representatives, and is used by Congress in oversight and legislative functions. Burden Statement: The Department updated its ICR by providing estimates for the burden associated with the LMRDA Title IV election recordkeeping requirements and the voluntary CBA submission program. The Department also updated its estimates for LM report responses and total burden hours, as the Department revised its estimates based upon an average of the LM reports received over the most recent five-year period (FY14–18). See: https:// www.dol.gov/olms/regs/compliance/ enforcement_data.htm. The Department did not change the hourly burden estimates for Forms LM–1, LM–3, LM– 4, LM–10, LM–20, and LM–21, due to the mandatory e-filing changes, since the changes will have little if any impact on filers. Form LM–3 and LM– 4 filers submitted very few continuing hardship requests (just 33) in 2018, and just 1 so far in 2019, with all of them VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:32 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 rejected by the Department. Further, electronic filing is already available for Form LM–10, LM–20, and LM–21 filers, and will become available shortly for Form LM–1 filers, and the Department expects such filers to adapt quickly to EFS, due to the ease of the system and convenience of e-filing. Indeed, many have already filed electronically. The total burden for the Labor Organization and Auxiliary Reports information collection is summarized as follows: Type of Review: Revision. Agency: DOL–OLMS. Title of Collection: Labor Organization and Auxiliary Reports. OMB Control Number: 1245–0003. Affected Public: Private Sector— businesses or other for-profits, farms, and not-for-profit institutions; and Individuals or Households. Total Estimated Number of Responses: 35,297. Total Estimated Annual Burden Hours: 4,644,849 Total Estimated Annual Other Costs Burden: $0. Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized and/or included in the request for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval of the information collection request; they will also become a matter of public record. Dated: December 11, 2019. Andrew R. Davis, Chief of the Division of Interpretations and Standards, Office of Labor-Management Standards, U.S. Department of Labor. [FR Doc. 2019–27578 Filed 12–20–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P DEPARTMENT OF LABOR Mine Safety and Health Administration Petition for Modification of Application of Existing Mandatory Safety Standard Mine Safety and Health Administration, Labor. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: This notice is a summary of a 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 January 22, 2020. ADDRESSES: You may submit your comments, identified by ‘‘docket number’’ on the subject line, by any of the following methods: 1. Email: zzMSHA-comments@dol.gov Include the docket number of the SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00077 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 70569 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– 9440 (voice), McConnell.Sheila.A@ dol.gov (email), or 202–693–9441 (facsimile). [These are not toll-free numbers.] 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. 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 (Secretary) 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. 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 for filing petitions for modification. II. Petition for Modification Docket Number: M–2019–057–C. Petitioner: Marfork Coal Company, LLC, P.O. Box 457, Whitesville, WV 25209. Mine: Black Eagle, MSHA I.D. No. 46– 09550, located in Raleigh County, West Virginia. Regulation Affected: 30 CFR 75.1700 (Oil and gas wells). E:\FR\FM\23DEN1.SGM 23DEN1 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with NOTICES 70570 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Notices Modification Request: The petitioner requests a modification of the existing standard, 30 CFR 75.1700, as it relates to vertical oil and gas wells at the Black Eagle mine. The operator is petitioning in order to mine through existing wells as they are met. The petitioner states that: (1) The Black Eagle mine extracts coal from the Eagle coal seam. The Black Eagle mine operates one continuous miner section that produces coal 5 to 6 days per week. (2) There are many vertical oil and gas wells which exist in the reserve area of the Black Eagle mine. (3) The Black Eagle mine will employ the continuous mining room and pillar method of mining. It is expected that each vertical wellbore will only be mined through once in any seam. The petitioner proposes the following alternative method: (a) With respect to vertical mines, the petitioner proposes to modify 30 CFR 75.1700 to allow mining through vertical wellbores as encountered and whenever the safety barrier diameter is reduced to a distance less than the MSHA District Manager would approve pursuant to 30 CFR 75.1700 for plugged oil or gas wells penetrating the Eagle Coal Seam and other mineable coal seams. (b) The petitioner proposes to use the following procedures when cleaning out and preparing oil and gas wells prior to plugging: (1) A diligent effort will be made to clean the borehole to the original total depth. If this depth cannot be reached, and the depth of the well is less than 4,000 feet, the operator will clean the well from the surface to at least 200 feet below the lowest mineable coal seam’s base. If the well depth is equal to or greater than 4,000 feet, the operator must clean out the well from the surface to at least 400 feet below the lowest mineable coal seam’s base. The operator must remove all materials that are within the well, throughout the entire diameter of the well, and from wall to wall. (2) Down-hole logs will be prepared by the operator for each well. The logs, which collect subsurface information for each well, will use the following data measurement tools: a caliper survey, a gamma log, a bond log, and a deviation survey for determining the top and bottom of the lowest mineable coalbed, potential hydrocarbon producing strata, and the location for the bridge plug. If approved by the MSHA District Manager, down-hole camera surveys may be approved used instead of downhole logs. A journal will be maintained to describe the depth and nature of VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:32 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 material(s) encountered, the drilling information, the length of the plug, casing(s) effected, and other information related to cleaning and sealing the well. This information will be kept for MSHA to inspect, should MSHA request it. (3) When cleaning the well, a diligent effort will be made to remove all the casing in the well. Once it is cleaned and the casings are removed, the well must be plugged by pumping cement slurry and pressurizing to 200 psi. If the casing cannot be removed, the remaining casing which remains will be cut, milled, perforated, or ripped to facilitate removing remaining casings. Any remaining casing must be perforated or ripped to allow cement to be injected in order to fill in voids throughout the well. Remaining casings must be perforated or ripped a minimum of 5 feet from 10 feet below to 10 feet above the coal seam. Perforations or rips are required at intervals spaced close enough (at least every 50 feet) to permit expanding cement slurry to infiltrate the annulus between the casing and the well wall for a distance of at least 200 feet below the base of the lowest mineable coalbed, for wells less than 4,000 feet deep and 400 feet below the lowest mineable coal seam, up to 100 feet above the uppermost part of the coal seam. If it is not possible to remove the casing, the operator will contact the MSHA District Manager before continuing work. If the well cannot be cleaned or the casing cannot be removed, then the operator must prepare the well as described above (if the well is less than 4,000 feet in depth) from the surface to at least 200 feet below the base of the lowest mineable seam; if the seam well is 4,000 feet or greater, then it must be prepared from the surface to 400 feet below the lowest mineable coal seam, unless the MSHA District Manager requires cleaning out the well due to a greater depth. If the operator can show, to the satisfaction of the MSHA District Manager, that the well is sealed properly, then the operator will not be required to perforate or rip the casings. A casing bond log is required for each casing and tubing string in lieu of ripping or perforating strings. (4) In the event that the cleaned-out well produces excessive gas, a mechanical bridge plug will be placed in the borehole in a competent stratum at least 200 feet below the base of the lowest mineable coalbed, but above the top of the uppermost hydrocarbonproducing stratum, unless the MSHA District Manager requires a larger distance. If it is not possible to set a mechanical bridge plug, an appropriately sized packer may be used PO 00000 Frm 00078 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 in place of the mechanical bridge plug. The mine operator must provide the MSHA District Manager will any information on the geological formation of the strata and the well pressure. The mine operator must record what actions have been taken to plug the hydrocarbon producing strata. (5) If the uppermost hydrocarbonproducing stratum is within 300 feet of the base of the lowest mineable coalbed, properly placed mechanical bridge plugs or a suitable brush plug, described in subparagraph (b)(4) above, will be used to isolate the hydrocarbonproducing stratum from the expanding cement plug. A minimum of 200 feet of expanding cement will be placed below the lowest mineable coalbed. (c) After cleaning out the well, as specified above, the petitioner proposes to use the following procedures when plugging or replugging oil and gas wells to the surface: (1) A cement plug will be set in the wellbore by pumping an expanding cement slurry down the well to create a plug that runs from at least 200 feet below the base of the coal seam that is being mined. The cement must be placed in the well under a pressure of at least 200 pounds per square inch. Portland cement or a light-weight cement mixture may be used to fill in the area from approximately 100 feet above the top of the lowest mineable coalbed to the surface. (2) A small quantity of steel turnings, or other small magnetic particles, will be embedded in the top of the cement near the surface to serve as a permanent magnetic monument of the borehole. (d) The petitioner proposes to use the following procedures when plugging oil or gas wells for subsequent use as degasification boreholes: (1) A cement plug will be set in the wellbore by pumping an expanding cement slurry down the tubing to displace the gel and provide at least 200 feet of expanding cement (400 feet if the depth is 4,000 feet or greater) below the lowest mineable coalbed at a pressure of at least 200 pounds per square inch. The top of the expanding cement will extend upward at least 50 feet above the top of the coalbed being mined, unless the MSHA District Manager requires a greater distance. (2) The operator must grout a suitable casing into the bedrock of the upper part of the degasification well in order to protect it. (3) The operator must fit a wellhead to the top of the degasification casing, as required by the MSHA District Manager in the approved ventilation plan. This equipment can include check valves, shut-in valves, sampling ports, E:\FR\FM\23DEN1.SGM 23DEN1 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Notices flame arrestor equipment, and security fencing. (4) The degasification well must be addressed in the approved ventilation plan, including periodic tests of methane levels and limits on the minimum methane concentrations extracted. (5) Once an area of the coal mine is degassed by a sealed well or if the coal mine is abandoned, the operator must plug all degasification wells using the following procedures: (i) The operator must insert a tube to the bottom of the well, or at least to 100 feet above the coal seam being mined; blockage must be removed to allow the tube to reach this depth. (ii) The operator will set a cement plug in the well, pumping Portland cement or a lightweight cement mixture until the well is filled to the surface. (iii) The operator must embed steel turnings or other small magnetic particles in the top of the cement near the surface as permanent magnetic monuments for the well. An alternative is a 4 inch or larger casing, set in cement, which extends 36 or more inches above the ground level with the API number engraved or welded on the casing. (e) As an alternative procedure for preparing and plugging or replugging oil or gas wells that cannot be cleaned completely: (1) The operator must drill a hole adjacent and parallel to the well, at least 200 feet deep, below the coal seam to be mined or at the lowest mineable coal seam (whichever is lower). The operator will locating remaining casings using geophysical sensing devices. (2) If casings are detected then the operator must drill into the well from the parallel hole. Between 10 feet above to 10 feet below the coal seam, the operator must perforate or rip all casings every 5 feet. Beyond that distance, the operator must perforate or rip at every 50 feet from at least 200 feet below the base of the coal seam to be mined or the lowest mineable coal seam, whichever is lower, up to 100 feet above the seam that is being mined. (3) The annulus between the degasification casing and the borehole wall will be cemented. (4) If there is insufficient casings in the well to allow for (e)(3) to be completed, the operator must use a horizontal hydrolic fracturing technique to intercept the original well. (5) The operator must prepare downhole logs for each well consisting of a caliper survey, gamma log, a bond log, and a deviation survey for determining the diameters of the coal seam to be VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:32 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 mined or the lowest mineable coal seam, whichever is lower. (6) A journal must be maintained to describe the depth and nature of material encountered, the drilling information, length of plug, casing(s) effected, and other information related to cleaning and sealing the well. This information will be kept for MSHA to inspect, should MSHA request it. (7) After the operator has plugged the well described in (e), the operator must plug the adjacent hole using Portland cement or a lightweight cement mixture. (8) The operator must embed steel turnings or other small magnetic particles in the top of the cement near the surface as permanent magnetic monuments for the well. An alternative is a 4 inch or larger casing, set in cement, which extends 36 or more inches above the ground level with the API number engraved or welded on the casing. (f) Once mining has been granted by the MSHA District Manager, the following procedures will take place: (1) A conference may be requested by any of the following: The representative of the miners, a state agency, or the MSHA District Manager. The conference will be scheduled by the MSHA District Manager, to review, evaluate, and accommodate any abnormal or unusual circumstances that relate to the condition of the well or surrounding strata. (2) The intersection of a well by the operator must be conducted on a shift approved by the MSHA District Manager. The operator must notify the MSHA District Manager and the miners’ representative prior to the intersection so that representatives can be present. (3) Drivage sites must be installed by the operator not more than 50 feet from the well, at the last open crosscut near the area to be mined to ensure intersection of the well. For longwall mining, distance markers will be installed on 5-foot centers 50 feet in advance of the well in the headgate entry and in the tailgate entry. (4) Firefighting equipment, including fire extinguishers, rock dust, and sufficient fire hose to reach the working face area of the mining-through will be available when either the conventional or continuous mining method is used. The fire hose will be located in the last open crosscut of the entry or room. The operator will maintain the water line to be able to reach the farthest point of penetration on the section. (5) Sufficient supplies of roof support and ventilation materials will be available and located at the last open crosscut. In addition, an emergency plug PO 00000 Frm 00079 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 70571 and/or plugs will be available in the immediate area of the mine-through. (6) Equipment will be checked for permissibility and serviced on the shift prior to mining-through the well; water sprays, water pressures and water flow rates will be checked and any issues will be corrected. (7) The methane monitor on the continuous mining machine will be calibrated on the shift prior to miningthrough the well. (8) When mining is in progress, tests for methane will be made with a handheld methane detector at least every 10 minutes from the time that mining with the continuous mining machine is within 30 feet of the well until the well is intersected and immediately prior to mining through. During the actual cutting through process, no individual will be allowed on the return side until mining-through has been completed and the area has been examined and declared safe. (9) The working place will be free from accumulations of coal dust and coal spillages, and rock dust will be placed on the roof, rib and floor within 20 feet of the face when mining through or near the well on the shift or shifts during which the cut-through will occur. (10) When the wellbore is intersected, all equipment will be deenergized and the area thoroughly examined and determined safe before mining is resumed. (11) After a well has been intersected and the working place determined safe, mining will continue inby the well at a sufficient distance to permit adequate ventilation around the area of the wellbore. (12) When a torch is necessary for poorly cut or milled casings, no open flames will be permitted in the area until adequate ventilation has been established around the wellbore and methane levels of less than 1 percent are present in all areas affected by flames or sparks from the torch. (13) Non-sparking (brass) tools will be used only to expose and examine cased wells. These tools will be located on the working section. (14) No person will be permitted in the area of the mining-through operation except for those actually engaged in the operation, company personnel, representatives of the miners, personnel from MSHA, and personnel from the appropriate State agency. (15) The operator must alert all personnel in the mine of a planned intersection of the well before going underground if it is to occur during the shift. E:\FR\FM\23DEN1.SGM 23DEN1 lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with NOTICES 70572 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 246 / Monday, December 23, 2019 / Notices (16) The mining-through operation will be under the direct supervision of a certified official. Instructions concerning the mining-through operation will be issued only by the certified official in charge. (17) If the mine operator cannot find the well or if the anticipated intersection is missed, the operator must cease mining to assess for hazardous conditions, notify the MSHA District Manager, and use reasonable methods of locating the well. If the well cannot be located, the mine operator must notify the MSHA District Manager to resolve issues before mining resumes. (18) This modification does not affect the ability for MSHA representatives to interrupt or halt well intersection or to issue a withdrawal notice when deemed necessary. MSHA may issue a withdrawal of persons in the mine or a cessation of the well intersection verbally or by written order, including the basis for the order. The MSHA representative then needs to permit resumption for mining operations in the affected area to restart. (19) If the well is not plugged to the depth of all mineable coal seams that have been identified in the core hole logs, then any coal seams below the lowest plug will remain subject to the barrier requirements dictated by 30 CFR 75.1700, if developed in the future. (20) All involved miners will be trained on the contents of this petition prior to starting the process of plugging or re-plugging. (21) Mechanical bridge plugs will utilize the best available technologies required or recognized by the state regulatory agency and/or the oil and gas industry. (22) Within 30 days after the Proposed Decision and Order (PDO) becomes final, the operator will submit proposed revisions to be approved by the MSHA District Manager, as part of the 30 CFR 48 training plan. This will include initial and refresher training. The revisions are to include training on the above terms for all miners involved in well intersection prior to mining within 150 feet of the well which is to be mined through. (23) The required person under 30 CFR 75.1501 Emergency Evacuations is responsible for emergencies relating to the intersection and this person will review intersection procedures before the intersection occurs. (24) Within 30 days of when this PDO is finalized, the operator will submit a revised emergency evacuation and firefighting training program, required by 30 CFR 75.1502. The operator must revise the program to incorporate hazards and evacuation plans used for VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:32 Dec 20, 2019 Jkt 250001 well intersection. All underground miners will be trained in the above plan revisions within 30 days of submittal. (25) The petitioner asserts that the proposed alternative method will at all times guarantee no less than the same measure of protection from the potential hazards against which the existing standard for 30 CFR 75.1700 is intended to guard. Sheila McConnell, Director, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances. [FR Doc. 2019–27574 Filed 12–20–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4520–43–P DEPARTMENT OF LABOR Occupational Safety and Health Administration [Docket No. OSHA–2009–0042] OSHA’s Conflict of Interest and Disclosure Form; Extension of the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Approval of Information Collection (Paperwork) Requirements Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Labor. ACTION: Request for public comments. AGENCY: OSHA solicits public comments concerning the proposal to extend the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) approval of the information collection requirements contained in the proposed Conflict of Interest (COI) and Disclosure Form, which will be used to determine whether or not a conflict of interest exists for a potential peer review panel member. DATES: Comments must be submitted (postmarked, sent, or received) by February 21, 2020. ADDRESSES: Electronically: You may submit comments and attachments electronically at http:// www.regulations.gov, which is the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Follow the instructions online for submitting comments. Facsimile: If your comments, including attachments, are not longer than 10 pages you may fax them to the OSHA Docket Office at (202) 693–1648. Mail, hand delivery, express mail, messenger, or courier service: When using this method, you must submit a copy of your comments and attachments to the OSHA Docket Office, OSHA Docket No. OSHA–2009–0042, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, Room N–3653, 200 Constitution SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00080 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20210. Deliveries (hand, express mail, messenger, and courier service) are accepted during the Docket Office’s normal business hours, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., ET. Instructions: All submissions must include the agency name and OSHA docket number (OSHA–2009–0042) for the Information Collection Request (ICR). All comments, including any personal information you provide, such as social security numbers and dates of birth, are placed in the public docket without change, and may be made available online at http:// www.regulations.gov. For further information on submitting comments see the ‘‘Public Participation’’ heading in the section of this notice titled SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION. Docket: To read or download comments or other material in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov or the OSHA Docket Office at the above address. All documents in the docket (including this Federal Register notice) are listed in the http:// www.regulations.gov index; however, some information (e.g., copyrighted material) is not publicly available to read or download from the website. All submissions, including copyrighted material, are available for inspection and copying at the OSHA Docket Office. You may also contact Theda Kenney at the below phone number to obtain a copy of the ICR. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Seleda Perryman or Theda Kenney, Directorate of Standards and Guidance, OSHA, U.S. Department of Labor; telephone (202) 693–2222. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background The Department of Labor, as part of the continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent (i.e., employer) burden, conducts a preclearance consultation program to provide the public with an opportunity to comment on proposed and continuing information collection requirements in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)). This program ensures that information is in the desired format, reporting burden (time and costs) is minimal, collection instruments are clearly understood, and OSHA’s estimate of the information collection burden is accurate. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (the OSH Act) (29 U.S.C. 651 et seq.) authorizes information collection by employers as necessary or appropriate for enforcement of the OSH E:\FR\FM\23DEN1.SGM 23DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 246 (Monday, December 23, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 70569-70572]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-27574]


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DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

Mine Safety and Health Administration


Petition 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 a 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 January 22, 2020.

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 202-693-9440 (voice), 
[email protected] (email), or 202-693-9441 (facsimile). [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 (Secretary) 
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. 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 for filing petitions for modification.

II. Petition for Modification

    Docket Number: M-2019-057-C.
    Petitioner: Marfork Coal Company, LLC, P.O. Box 457, Whitesville, 
WV 25209.
    Mine: Black Eagle, MSHA I.D. No. 46-09550, located in Raleigh 
County, West Virginia.
    Regulation Affected: 30 CFR 75.1700 (Oil and gas wells).

[[Page 70570]]

    Modification Request: The petitioner requests a modification of the 
existing standard, 30 CFR 75.1700, as it relates to vertical oil and 
gas wells at the Black Eagle mine. The operator is petitioning in order 
to mine through existing wells as they are met.
    The petitioner states that:
    (1) The Black Eagle mine extracts coal from the Eagle coal seam. 
The Black Eagle mine operates one continuous miner section that 
produces coal 5 to 6 days per week.
    (2) There are many vertical oil and gas wells which exist in the 
reserve area of the Black Eagle mine.
    (3) The Black Eagle mine will employ the continuous mining room and 
pillar method of mining. It is expected that each vertical wellbore 
will only be mined through once in any seam.
    The petitioner proposes the following alternative method:
    (a) With respect to vertical mines, the petitioner proposes to 
modify 30 CFR 75.1700 to allow mining through vertical wellbores as 
encountered and whenever the safety barrier diameter is reduced to a 
distance less than the MSHA District Manager would approve pursuant to 
30 CFR 75.1700 for plugged oil or gas wells penetrating the Eagle Coal 
Seam and other mineable coal seams.
    (b) The petitioner proposes to use the following procedures when 
cleaning out and preparing oil and gas wells prior to plugging:
    (1) A diligent effort will be made to clean the borehole to the 
original total depth. If this depth cannot be reached, and the depth of 
the well is less than 4,000 feet, the operator will clean the well from 
the surface to at least 200 feet below the lowest mineable coal seam's 
base. If the well depth is equal to or greater than 4,000 feet, the 
operator must clean out the well from the surface to at least 400 feet 
below the lowest mineable coal seam's base. The operator must remove 
all materials that are within the well, throughout the entire diameter 
of the well, and from wall to wall.
    (2) Down-hole logs will be prepared by the operator for each well. 
The logs, which collect subsurface information for each well, will use 
the following data measurement tools: a caliper survey, a gamma log, a 
bond log, and a deviation survey for determining the top and bottom of 
the lowest mineable coalbed, potential hydrocarbon producing strata, 
and the location for the bridge plug. If approved by the MSHA District 
Manager, down-hole camera surveys may be approved used instead of down-
hole logs. A journal will be maintained to describe the depth and 
nature of material(s) encountered, the drilling information, the length 
of the plug, casing(s) effected, and other information related to 
cleaning and sealing the well. This information will be kept for MSHA 
to inspect, should MSHA request it.
    (3) When cleaning the well, a diligent effort will be made to 
remove all the casing in the well. Once it is cleaned and the casings 
are removed, the well must be plugged by pumping cement slurry and 
pressurizing to 200 psi. If the casing cannot be removed, the remaining 
casing which remains will be cut, milled, perforated, or ripped to 
facilitate removing remaining casings. Any remaining casing must be 
perforated or ripped to allow cement to be injected in order to fill in 
voids throughout the well. Remaining casings must be perforated or 
ripped a minimum of 5 feet from 10 feet below to 10 feet above the coal 
seam. Perforations or rips are required at intervals spaced close 
enough (at least every 50 feet) to permit expanding cement slurry to 
infiltrate the annulus between the casing and the well wall for a 
distance of at least 200 feet below the base of the lowest mineable 
coalbed, for wells less than 4,000 feet deep and 400 feet below the 
lowest mineable coal seam, up to 100 feet above the uppermost part of 
the coal seam. If it is not possible to remove the casing, the operator 
will contact the MSHA District Manager before continuing work. If the 
well cannot be cleaned or the casing cannot be removed, then the 
operator must prepare the well as described above (if the well is less 
than 4,000 feet in depth) from the surface to at least 200 feet below 
the base of the lowest mineable seam; if the seam well is 4,000 feet or 
greater, then it must be prepared from the surface to 400 feet below 
the lowest mineable coal seam, unless the MSHA District Manager 
requires cleaning out the well due to a greater depth. If the operator 
can show, to the satisfaction of the MSHA District Manager, that the 
well is sealed properly, then the operator will not be required to 
perforate or rip the casings. A casing bond log is required for each 
casing and tubing string in lieu of ripping or perforating strings.
    (4) In the event that the cleaned-out well produces excessive gas, 
a mechanical bridge plug will be placed in the borehole in a competent 
stratum at least 200 feet below the base of the lowest mineable 
coalbed, but above the top of the uppermost hydrocarbon-producing 
stratum, unless the MSHA District Manager requires a larger distance. 
If it is not possible to set a mechanical bridge plug, an appropriately 
sized packer may be used in place of the mechanical bridge plug. The 
mine operator must provide the MSHA District Manager will any 
information on the geological formation of the strata and the well 
pressure. The mine operator must record what actions have been taken to 
plug the hydrocarbon producing strata.
    (5) If the uppermost hydrocarbon-producing stratum is within 300 
feet of the base of the lowest mineable coalbed, properly placed 
mechanical bridge plugs or a suitable brush plug, described in 
subparagraph (b)(4) above, will be used to isolate the hydrocarbon-
producing stratum from the expanding cement plug. A minimum of 200 feet 
of expanding cement will be placed below the lowest mineable coalbed.
    (c) After cleaning out the well, as specified above, the petitioner 
proposes to use the following procedures when plugging or replugging 
oil and gas wells to the surface:
    (1) A cement plug will be set in the wellbore by pumping an 
expanding cement slurry down the well to create a plug that runs from 
at least 200 feet below the base of the coal seam that is being mined. 
The cement must be placed in the well under a pressure of at least 200 
pounds per square inch. Portland cement or a light-weight cement 
mixture may be used to fill in the area from approximately 100 feet 
above the top of the lowest mineable coalbed to the surface.
    (2) A small quantity of steel turnings, or other small magnetic 
particles, will be embedded in the top of the cement near the surface 
to serve as a permanent magnetic monument of the borehole.
    (d) The petitioner proposes to use the following procedures when 
plugging oil or gas wells for subsequent use as degasification 
boreholes:
    (1) A cement plug will be set in the wellbore by pumping an 
expanding cement slurry down the tubing to displace the gel and provide 
at least 200 feet of expanding cement (400 feet if the depth is 4,000 
feet or greater) below the lowest mineable coalbed at a pressure of at 
least 200 pounds per square inch. The top of the expanding cement will 
extend upward at least 50 feet above the top of the coalbed being 
mined, unless the MSHA District Manager requires a greater distance.
    (2) The operator must grout a suitable casing into the bedrock of 
the upper part of the degasification well in order to protect it.
    (3) The operator must fit a wellhead to the top of the 
degasification casing, as required by the MSHA District Manager in the 
approved ventilation plan. This equipment can include check valves, 
shut-in valves, sampling ports,

[[Page 70571]]

flame arrestor equipment, and security fencing.
    (4) The degasification well must be addressed in the approved 
ventilation plan, including periodic tests of methane levels and limits 
on the minimum methane concentrations extracted.
    (5) Once an area of the coal mine is degassed by a sealed well or 
if the coal mine is abandoned, the operator must plug all 
degasification wells using the following procedures:
    (i) The operator must insert a tube to the bottom of the well, or 
at least to 100 feet above the coal seam being mined; blockage must be 
removed to allow the tube to reach this depth.
    (ii) The operator will set a cement plug in the well, pumping 
Portland cement or a lightweight cement mixture until the well is 
filled to the surface.
    (iii) The operator must embed steel turnings or other small 
magnetic particles in the top of the cement near the surface as 
permanent magnetic monuments for the well. An alternative is a 4 inch 
or larger casing, set in cement, which extends 36 or more inches above 
the ground level with the API number engraved or welded on the casing.
    (e) As an alternative procedure for preparing and plugging or 
replugging oil or gas wells that cannot be cleaned completely:
    (1) The operator must drill a hole adjacent and parallel to the 
well, at least 200 feet deep, below the coal seam to be mined or at the 
lowest mineable coal seam (whichever is lower). The operator will 
locating remaining casings using geophysical sensing devices.
    (2) If casings are detected then the operator must drill into the 
well from the parallel hole. Between 10 feet above to 10 feet below the 
coal seam, the operator must perforate or rip all casings every 5 feet. 
Beyond that distance, the operator must perforate or rip at every 50 
feet from at least 200 feet below the base of the coal seam to be mined 
or the lowest mineable coal seam, whichever is lower, up to 100 feet 
above the seam that is being mined.
    (3) The annulus between the degasification casing and the borehole 
wall will be cemented.
    (4) If there is insufficient casings in the well to allow for 
(e)(3) to be completed, the operator must use a horizontal hydrolic 
fracturing technique to intercept the original well.
    (5) The operator must prepare down-hole logs for each well 
consisting of a caliper survey, gamma log, a bond log, and a deviation 
survey for determining the diameters of the coal seam to be mined or 
the lowest mineable coal seam, whichever is lower.
    (6) A journal must be maintained to describe the depth and nature 
of material encountered, the drilling information, length of plug, 
casing(s) effected, and other information related to cleaning and 
sealing the well. This information will be kept for MSHA to inspect, 
should MSHA request it.
    (7) After the operator has plugged the well described in (e), the 
operator must plug the adjacent hole using Portland cement or a 
lightweight cement mixture.
    (8) The operator must embed steel turnings or other small magnetic 
particles in the top of the cement near the surface as permanent 
magnetic monuments for the well. An alternative is a 4 inch or larger 
casing, set in cement, which extends 36 or more inches above the ground 
level with the API number engraved or welded on the casing.
    (f) Once mining has been granted by the MSHA District Manager, the 
following procedures will take place:
    (1) A conference may be requested by any of the following: The 
representative of the miners, a state agency, or the MSHA District 
Manager. The conference will be scheduled by the MSHA District Manager, 
to review, evaluate, and accommodate any abnormal or unusual 
circumstances that relate to the condition of the well or surrounding 
strata.
    (2) The intersection of a well by the operator must be conducted on 
a shift approved by the MSHA District Manager. The operator must notify 
the MSHA District Manager and the miners' representative prior to the 
intersection so that representatives can be present.
    (3) Drivage sites must be installed by the operator not more than 
50 feet from the well, at the last open crosscut near the area to be 
mined to ensure intersection of the well. For longwall mining, distance 
markers will be installed on 5-foot centers 50 feet in advance of the 
well in the headgate entry and in the tailgate entry.
    (4) Firefighting equipment, including fire extinguishers, rock 
dust, and sufficient fire hose to reach the working face area of the 
mining-through will be available when either the conventional or 
continuous mining method is used. The fire hose will be located in the 
last open crosscut of the entry or room. The operator will maintain the 
water line to be able to reach the farthest point of penetration on the 
section.
    (5) Sufficient supplies of roof support and ventilation materials 
will be available and located at the last open crosscut. In addition, 
an emergency plug and/or plugs will be available in the immediate area 
of the mine-through.
    (6) Equipment will be checked for permissibility and serviced on 
the shift prior to mining-through the well; water sprays, water 
pressures and water flow rates will be checked and any issues will be 
corrected.
    (7) The methane monitor on the continuous mining machine will be 
calibrated on the shift prior to mining-through the well.
    (8) When mining is in progress, tests for methane will be made with 
a hand-held methane detector at least every 10 minutes from the time 
that mining with the continuous mining machine is within 30 feet of the 
well until the well is intersected and immediately prior to mining 
through. During the actual cutting through process, no individual will 
be allowed on the return side until mining-through has been completed 
and the area has been examined and declared safe.
    (9) The working place will be free from accumulations of coal dust 
and coal spillages, and rock dust will be placed on the roof, rib and 
floor within 20 feet of the face when mining through or near the well 
on the shift or shifts during which the cut-through will occur.
    (10) When the wellbore is intersected, all equipment will be 
deenergized and the area thoroughly examined and determined safe before 
mining is resumed.
    (11) After a well has been intersected and the working place 
determined safe, mining will continue inby the well at a sufficient 
distance to permit adequate ventilation around the area of the 
wellbore.
    (12) When a torch is necessary for poorly cut or milled casings, no 
open flames will be permitted in the area until adequate ventilation 
has been established around the wellbore and methane levels of less 
than 1 percent are present in all areas affected by flames or sparks 
from the torch.
    (13) Non-sparking (brass) tools will be used only to expose and 
examine cased wells. These tools will be located on the working 
section.
    (14) No person will be permitted in the area of the mining-through 
operation except for those actually engaged in the operation, company 
personnel, representatives of the miners, personnel from MSHA, and 
personnel from the appropriate State agency.
    (15) The operator must alert all personnel in the mine of a planned 
intersection of the well before going underground if it is to occur 
during the shift.

[[Page 70572]]

    (16) The mining-through operation will be under the direct 
supervision of a certified official. Instructions concerning the 
mining-through operation will be issued only by the certified official 
in charge.
    (17) If the mine operator cannot find the well or if the 
anticipated intersection is missed, the operator must cease mining to 
assess for hazardous conditions, notify the MSHA District Manager, and 
use reasonable methods of locating the well. If the well cannot be 
located, the mine operator must notify the MSHA District Manager to 
resolve issues before mining resumes.
    (18) This modification does not affect the ability for MSHA 
representatives to interrupt or halt well intersection or to issue a 
withdrawal notice when deemed necessary. MSHA may issue a withdrawal of 
persons in the mine or a cessation of the well intersection verbally or 
by written order, including the basis for the order. The MSHA 
representative then needs to permit resumption for mining operations in 
the affected area to restart.
    (19) If the well is not plugged to the depth of all mineable coal 
seams that have been identified in the core hole logs, then any coal 
seams below the lowest plug will remain subject to the barrier 
requirements dictated by 30 CFR 75.1700, if developed in the future.
    (20) All involved miners will be trained on the contents of this 
petition prior to starting the process of plugging or re-plugging.
    (21) Mechanical bridge plugs will utilize the best available 
technologies required or recognized by the state regulatory agency and/
or the oil and gas industry.
    (22) Within 30 days after the Proposed Decision and Order (PDO) 
becomes final, the operator will submit proposed revisions to be 
approved by the MSHA District Manager, as part of the 30 CFR 48 
training plan. This will include initial and refresher training. The 
revisions are to include training on the above terms for all miners 
involved in well intersection prior to mining within 150 feet of the 
well which is to be mined through.
    (23) The required person under 30 CFR 75.1501 Emergency Evacuations 
is responsible for emergencies relating to the intersection and this 
person will review intersection procedures before the intersection 
occurs.
    (24) Within 30 days of when this PDO is finalized, the operator 
will submit a revised emergency evacuation and firefighting training 
program, required by 30 CFR 75.1502. The operator must revise the 
program to incorporate hazards and evacuation plans used for well 
intersection. All underground miners will be trained in the above plan 
revisions within 30 days of submittal.
    (25) The petitioner asserts that the proposed alternative method 
will at all times guarantee no less than the same measure of protection 
from the potential hazards against which the existing standard for 30 
CFR 75.1700 is intended to guard.

Sheila McConnell,
Director, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances.
[FR Doc. 2019-27574 Filed 12-20-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4520-43-P