Page images

Mr. Evans. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I don't have a prepared statement either. I came here on short notice.

Senator WILLIAMS. Well, this was in response to a question, Mr. Evans.

Mr. Evans. All right; may I find make some general observations and then submit myself to any questions that you may have.

Senator WILLIAMS. No; let us clear up that one point that was raised, which I raised in a question to Mr. Boyle. What have you done, on the international level, and what has been done at the local level within the union to move within your rights under the law to see that that requirement of inspection is now done-we now know it is not done by the Bureau ?

Mr. Evans. You mean what have we done by visiting the Bureau to see that the inspection provisions of this law are complied with?

Senator WILLIAMS. Exactly.

Mr. Evans. Mr. Chairman, may I say first that the law in its entirety is not being complied with. The inspection provision of the act is not being complied with. The inspection provsions of the act require that at least four complete inspections be made a year and that a spot inspection be made once each 5 working days at certain mines that present peculiar and hazardous conditions, the emission of large quantities of methane gas and other peculiar conditions.

Now, I guess the question naturally follows: "Well, why isn't the inspection provision of the act being complied with and what have we done at the union to see that it is being complied with ?”

Senator WILLIAMS. That is it, yes.

Mr. Evans. The inspection provisions of the act are not being complied with because the Federal Bureau of Mines doesn't have sufficient inspectors out in the field to meet the requirements of this act; it is just that plain and simple.

Now, they have been doing a lot of foot dragging, in my opinion, in recruiting additional inspectors, and at the rate they are going, the inspection provisions of this act won't be complied with this time next year.

I think it was quite evident to everyone as far back as last summer and certainly at the beginning of last fall it was evident to anyone who had any interest, that we were going to have a new Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act and that it was going to be far more rigid than the act that we were presently operating under and that this act, without question, was going to require more inspections of coal mines to be made; and I might say, Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee, that it was our proposal that coal mines be inspected at least four times a year. The act that we were operating under required only at least one inspection annually.

The Federal Bureau of Mines should have begun last summer and ! certainly no later than last fall, several months before the act was signed by the President, to conduct examinations and to set about establishing a register from which Federal coal mine inspectors could have been gotten. They neglected to do this, and it was not until February of this year, until they held walk-in examinations-it is my understanding that about 1,300 people took these examinations and about 300 were successful in the examinations.

Now, I made a number of trips to the Bureau of Mines, calling to their attention that they were not meeting the inspection requirements of this act. I was told by the Bureau that, after they got people from the register, put them on their payroll, that it took a year to train them and orient them, and there were some people in the Bureau of Mines who were contending that this period of time should be 2 years.

Well, to me this was ridiculous. I Ảnow something about mine inspectors. I have hired mine inspectors myself and put them to work, not in the Federal Government, but I have done it in the State government. And I tried to impress on the Bureau that they should realize that the people who took these examinations and especially those who passed the examinations were people who are knowledgeable in coal mining, and to say that it would take a year or 2 years to train them beyond that before they could be sent out in the field on their own to inspect coal mines, in my opinion, is just ridiculous.

Senator Williams. Well, should we come back to the specifics of what have you done! I have a copy of the law, and it does say that when you feel inspections should be had, notice shall be reduced to writing. Did you proceed with written notice that you were demanding an inspection under the law?

Mr. Evans. Written notice to the Bureau?
Senator WILLIAMS. Yes.
Mr. Evans. I don't think I did with written notice.

Senator WILLIAMS. Well, we did make that provision, put that provision in the law, I suppose, so there wouldn't be a flood of casual demands for inspections. That is the demand of the law, it be reduced to writing to the Bureau.

Mr. Evans. When an inspection is required where there is some dangerous condition existing at the mines?

Senator WILLIAMS. Yes.

Mr. Evans. That is right, but we are talking now, at least I am talking about the regular inspections that are required of coal mines under this act.

Senator WILLIAMS. As I recall some of the statements that we received up in Pennsylvania 3 or 4 weeks ago, in mines where there was the demand because of the extra hazard of these mines, the law demanded a spot inspection every 4 or 5 days. Is it five?

Mr. Evans. Five.

Senator WILLIAMS. Five days. And the men working at the mines there told me they had not seen an inspector for weeks. Would that be a situation where, if they felt they were in imminent danger, there had been no inspection, they can make a demand and request for an inspector, reduce it to writing, and then it should happen?

Mr. Evans. They may do it that way; they have that privilege under the law. In many cases, I have gotten letters, I have gotten telephone calls from safety committees or from our safety coordinators out in the field that they had information from the men at the mine that there was a certain condition existing at the mine and would I get hold of the Bureau of Mines and have them send one of their inspectors out to the mine. I have done this on many occasions.

Senator WILLIAMS. With what result?

Mr. Evans. They would respond when I get ahold of them and ask them to go to a mine, that I have information that there is a certain condition existing at the mine that is dangerous and the men are re

quiring or asking that it be looked at, and I get ahold of them they do respond.

Senator WILLIAMS. You are certainly formalizing your complaints with the Bureau here this morning, and it is on our complete record, and did you make any record of complaints to the Bureau ?

Mr. Evans. When I get a complaint from our people?

Senator WILLIAMS. Yes; do you write them, wire them; was there any written record of your complaints filed with the Bureau?

Mr. Evans. In some cases there are, but generally when the condition is existing at a mine and I know about it, it has been told to me by someone out in the field, miners or some of our staff people out in the field, I pick up the telephone immediately and get ahold of them and ask them if they will send an inspector out to the mine. I do this rather than writing them a letter that they may not get for 2 or 3 days.

a Senator Williams. It is arbitrary, and I would think it is a good practice where there is a pattern of failure to inspect and I would think the record should be formalized, and we are formalizing it here, and the committee has done this, and this has to be improved; I mean it has to be, this business if there are not enough inspectors, because we provided the money, am I correct, the quadrupling of funds, and that money is available for inspectors and the money is there and 300 had passed the examination.

Mr. Evans. This is the figure I hear.

Senator WILLIAMS. This is what we heard, too, at the hearings in Pennsylvania, the hearings there.

Senator RANDOLPH. Mr. Chairman, you are correct about the seriousness, as are the men testifying today, concerning the lack of inspection under the act. You were, of course, in the subcommittee and in the full committee when we were not listening to the witnesses but when we were actually attempting to draft an effective law, that over and over again in the hearing record earlier and in the record of those sessions would indicate that in large degree the success of the Coal Mine Health and Safety Act would depend upon the inspection process, over and over again.

I picture the problems that could and might arise. We, at that time, were having correspondence, Mr. Evans, which indicated that the coal operators themselves were fearful that the United States, through the Bureau of Mines, would be coming in and taking its men who were skilled in inspection and bringing them into the national organization, and, now, whether that fear was founded or not, I can't say, but that was expressed to the committee over ad over again.

I would like to ask, Mr. Chairman, if it is appropriate at this time, to indicate whether these gentlemen who appear today, Mr. Boyle and/or others, attribute this problem at least in part to the failure— and it is a failure that I denounced—the failure to appoint a new Director of the Bureau of Mines; is it a situation in the Bureau of Mines that has deteriorated over the period of 5 months approximately since Director O'Leary left the Bureau of Mines and no successor has been named? Or is this a condition that could have been corrected, Mr. Boyle or Mr. Evans, if the administration had sent a nomination to the Senate and the Senate could confirm a nominee?

Mr. Evans. Senator Randolph, in response to your question, of course we have been without a Director in the Bureau for the number of months you mentioned. We had a similar situation for a period of 9 months before Mr. O'Leary became Director of the Bureau of Mines.

47-135 0-71—14

I think there are two things that have to be done and have to be done hurriedly: First, we have to get a Director in the Bureau of Mines, and it should be hard-nosed people who will bump some heads together.

Senator RANDOLPH. You are correct. I have gone to Secretary Hickel expressing a sense of urgency. In fact, on Monday of this week, I talked with him personally again and have spoken in the strongest terms that I know about the failure of this act to be implemented with a full-time Director at the helm. I said to him: "Why is it that a Director of the Bureau of Mines is not being nominated and the nomination sent to the Senate for confirmation?"

I think Secretary Hickel also wonders why it is not being done. He has promised me that he will give attention to it during this week and next, and he will hope to have the President of the United States act by sending a nomination to us within the next 2 weeks.

I agree with our chairman. The situation is atrocious, not only on one front, but on many fronts. As we think in terms of the Bureau of Mines, of its effectiveness, and now, of course, of its partial failure to deal with the provisions that have been the mandate for the Congress, Mr. Chairman, I think it is our responsibility, in every way that we can as individual members of this subcommittee, bring pressure upon the White House, and upon everyone concerned. First of all, we need a Director of the Bureau of Mines. I mean this is primary.

Mr. Evans. Secondly, Senator, we need mine inspectors.
Senator RANDOLPH. Of course, I said that earlier.

Mr. Evans. This is not being done, in my opinion, as promptly as it can be done.

Senator RANDOLPH. Isn't this partially a lack of leadership in the Bureau ?

Mr. Evans. I have no objetcion to training inspector 1 year or 2 years or 5 years or 10 years providing there are enough inspectors in the meantime out in the field inspecting coal mines the number of times required by the act.

Senator RANDOLPH. We understand that. There is a breakdown of course and isn't that partially, even substantially, because there is no Director of the Bureau of Mines? We certainly need leadership there.

Mr. Evans. The Bureau of Mines cannot function properly until it has a suitable person, competent person directing it, someone with authority.

Senator RANDOLPH. Mr. Chairman, I would like to suggest that as many members of our subcommitteee as will join in a telegram of urgency, will affix their signatures to one to the President of the United States today urging an early nomination by the Chief Executive, pointing out that 5 months have gone by without any action on that need.

I suggest, Mr. Chairman, that this is something that we can do as a group of Senators on this subcommittee.

Senator WILLIAMS. I appreciate that and I will say that criticism of conditions as they are, the failure of inspectors to be on the scene, description of the hazards in the mine, reach me everyday from the rank and file coal miners that work in the coal fields and, as a matter of fact, that is one of the reasons we were in Pennsylvania a few weeks ago, in response to rank and file expression of fear in the mines and criticism of the failure of the enforcement of the law, that is one of the reasons we went to West Virginia last week and that is why we are here. I will say, as far as I know, this is the first that the union

representatives, officials at the international level have registered to me, anyway, right at this hearing, and we invited you, too, and we are glad to have it even at this point.

On this point, is there anything that Senator Prouty or Senator Schweiker have in this area or any other area you might want to take up? Senator SCHWEIKER. Yes, Mr. Chairman.

I would like to comment on the matter of the Director of the Bureau of Mines. I want to express my deep concern along with Senator Randolph and the chairman and Mr. Boyle, because I have had a number of complaints from Pennsylvania not just from labor, but management, too, from many persons who feel that the drift and the lack of leadership in the Bureau has been a real serious problem, especially since the safety program under this new law has to be provided with leadership and know how.

Several Members of Congress, of which I am one, have actually suggested that Dr. Eric Walker could meet this particular situation. Dr. Walker is an engineer by background, former dean of the College of Engineering at Penn State, and he just retired as president of the Pennsylvania State University. I wondered, Mr. Boyle, whether you felt that a person of Dr. Walker's training and background would fit into this kind of job and what your idea would be of his qualifications?

Mr. Boyle, Senator, I don't know Mr. Walker, but Mr. Evans knows him personally and I would like, if you don't mind, for him to answer.

Senator SCHWEIKER. Very well.

Mr. Evans. I know Mr. Walker and I had a good deal of contact with him. I met him through serving on the board of trustees at Pennsylvania State University when he was president of the university. I dont know how much money he has or where he has it invested, I want to make that clear. But I know him to be a fine gentleman and I know that he is a very competent person and he is a very brilliant administrator and I would be the most surprised man in the world if Eric Walker would want the job.

Senator SCHWEIKER. Well, I have had some reliable reports that as a matter of public service, he would probably be willing to do it. He is retired now and not looking for extra work. The only reason I have for injecting his name is we seem to be at a stalemate. This is the gut issue on whether we are going to have an on-going mine safety law in operation. We need somebody who can pull the different segments of industry, labor, and the executive branch together. I think that of the names suggested, and I was not the originator of his name, by any means, that Dr. Walker has that quality.

A second point I would like to raise is on the mine inspectors. As you may recall, I was the Senator who actually introduced the inspection amendment that provided for daily gassy mine inspections and we were bitterly opposed by the Department here on that issue. We had to fight for it. My amendment provided for daily inspections of the most gassy mines, the explosion-prone mines, and I think the Bureau has testified that at the present rate inspectors are being trained and

« PreviousContinue »