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Mr. MANULA. After we made this simulated attempt to find out what actually did happen, we then established a permanent ventilating system within the mine, itself, and made a complete inspection of the mine, both from the standpoint of the electrical systems, for permissibility, and also all the other requirements for the mining of coal, such as ventilation, transportation, and so forth.
We were still not finished. Before we allowed that mine to go back to work, we actually worked that continuous miner that was involved, the mining machine in that section, to find out what the methane ventilation rates were.
You see, as we produce coal, the more coal we cut, if it is a gassy mine, the more methane we get. We get a methane buildup.
We found then that we would not allow this machine to sump into a solid coal face more than 5 feet. Before this, they were sumping in upwards of 20 feet into the coal face.
This means we charged this company now with limited production, because the mine was gassy and very hot. That means after every shuttle car, there is a gas test made.
This company now has other requirements made on it that don't come under the little red book, so to speak. There is an extreme hazard existing here from the standpoint of gas emission. So now we put very stringent requirements on this company from the standpoint of ventilation and from the standpoint of production.
After 2 weeks, after these tests and investigation by our commission, the company was allowed to work again.
One more thing I might mention here, gentlemen.
In Pennsylvania we have what we call certified machine runners. This is one step above a certified miner. No one is allowed to operate a machine or make examinations connected with the operation of a machine unless they are certified machine runners or certified officials. He is the captain of the ship.
A man that can operate levers, if he is just competent to operate levers on a machine, fine. But as you mine the coal, we have certain examinations we make, and we don't allow anyone to make these examinations for methane gas unless they have been certified.
So the men using our safety lamps, gentlemen, are experts. Senator RANDOLPH. Mr. Manula, you have mentioned drainage, mine acid drainage.
Mr. MANULA. I said methane drainage.
Mr. MANULA. Yes. I imagine every coal-producing State has mine acid drainage.
Senator RANDOLPH. That is true, of course.
I come to the point of asking voiuif under the Appalachain regional development program and the Water Quality Act we have made progress in Pennsylvania and other States in reducing the drainage that comes from either still active mines or abandoned mines.
Mr. MANULA. Senator, in Pennsylvania, we have estimated 4 million gallons of acid mine drainage per day. Half of this amount is coming from abandoned operations. The other half is from active.
Of the active operations, we have 200 lime treatment plants on line. All active coal mining operations are charged to deliver water to a receiving stream that has the quality of a 6pH, with no more than seven parts per million of iron, and no more than two parts per million of soluble solids.
Of the remaining 2 million a day from the abandoned mining operations, we have two programs, the abandoned mine service program, where the State, itself, that is, the Department of Mines acting for the State, is charged to clean these up. Right now we have 200 projects on line cleaning up acid mine drainage and other acids from the past years of coal mining.
Senator RANDOLPH. Mr. Manula, you recognize that to the miner this health and safety is a critical matter in Pennsylvania, as in all coal mining regions. To provide safety and health to that miner is of paramount importance.
But in the mine acid drainage program, there is a health hazard, also, to people who do not live in a mine or work in a mine. Hundreds of thousands of persons are involved by contaminated water from mine acid drainage.
That is all I am doing here today, is to ask if we are making progress in Pennsylvania, and in West Virginia, and if we are making it under the Appalachian regional development program that came from the Public Works Committee, and in which we put a considerable amount of money to help do this program, as in our water quality programs, as well.
Mrs. GUTSHALL. I am very familiar with the Appalachain Commission work. We have made a great deal of progress in Pennsylvania through the help of that program.
We had been conducting projects during Mr. Scranton's term of office. He was very instrumental in getting this passed.
Mainly, the work under Appalachian Regional Commission has not been on acid mine drainage. It has been strip mine restoration, extinguishment of mine fires, flushing of cited areas, and refuse bank fire work.
We are getting into acid mine drainage projects through that program.
Senator RANDOLPH. Thank you.
We are hoping that the Department of the Interior, Mr. Chairman. will come forward and support funds for the stronger mine acid drainage programs through supplemental appropirations which are pending before the Senate.
I mention this as a matter of record.
Mrs. GUTSHALL. Another point on this same subject: We are doing action programs in Pennsylvania under our bond issue in this field. In Federal work, it is mainly demonstration.
We feel at this stage of the game we are beyond demonstration, and I feel the Federal Government is. It should be grants for action programs.
Senator RANDOLPH. Thank you very much. I think it is corollary, what we are doing, of course, to help the health of the miner, also the health of the people that are involved by the drainage that comes from the mines, both active and abandoned.
Thank you very much.
Senator WILLIAMS. Just one observation on the discussion of the explosion in the Helen mine.
Notwithstanding the inspection program of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and notwithstanding the method now being used by the Bureau of Mines at the Federal level, through their partial but representative inspections, this did happen. It suggests to me that presently there is something lacking in terms of adequate mine inspections.
Is that a conclusion that is proper?
Mrs. GUTSHALL. I think Mr. Manula may have something to say on this, too; but I think in Pennsylvania we recognize we are in an automation program in coal mining, and the use of the continuous miner needs a great deal of research and demonstration to keep the ventilation at the point where the gas is removed. This is a program that we are involved in, as much as inspection.
Mr. MANULA. Senator, were you referring back to spot inspections ?
Senator WILLIAMS. I mentioned the partial but representative inspection. That was the method of inspecting at that mine, which means that it is not a full inspection; it is not a spot inspection.
PBR is a full inspection of as much of the mine as the Bureau determines will be inspected.
Am I right on that? It is a full inspection of part of the mine, but it was not a full inspection of the entire mine, in this case. It was partial, but they thought it was representative of the whole mine.
It turned out it was inadequate to know what the ventilating system was that served the face, where the explosion occurred.
You see, they were ventilated, but it was a split between two faces. That is where it was found. I gather it was found there was inadequate ventilation.
Mr. MANULA. Yes, sir.
In Pennsylvania, we are allowed to call one visit to a mine an inspection.
In Pennsylvania, seven mines require 3 weeks for an inspection. That is one inspection. That is a 3-week period.
When an inspector enters a mine and comes back out, we do not call that inspection unless he files a completed report. It takes 3 weeks. He visits all operating sections. He visits all returns, and all logistics functions connected with the mining of coal, including the surface plant. He checks all records and the license of that coal operator.
We have 24 deep mine inspectors in Pennsylvania. We work on a premise that the man closest to the mining operation, as mentioned by Mrs. Gutshall, is the one we hold responsible. His duties are defined by law. This includes the mine foreman, assistant mine foreman, the mine examiner, the machine operator, the miner, the shop foreman. All persons license-certified in Pennsylvania are held responsible.
This is why I think this is the only way we can go, if we are looking for accident prevention, because we can't have an inspector there every minute of the day. It is impossible.
We depend on these people. The mine foreman is a statutory officer of the Commonwealth, and has direct involvement with the State. We depend on him to file the information with us, with our mine inspector. We depend on the mine safety committee to file information with our mine inspector.
You know what happened recently? This established safety practice has deteriorated. The mine foremen in Pennsylvania are confused. The mine safety committee man does not report to our State mine inspector any more. He reports to a safety coordinator. We get the information secondhand. That is why our accident rate this year is on the increase. We had six fatals in April. We had one fatal last year in April.
Senator WILLIAMS. The reasons for this are not easily stated, and I think they have been in part stated all the way through.
Where do you put the finger of real responsibility for this breakdown in the reporting procedure?
Mr. MANULA. As Mrs. Gutshall mentioned in her original statement, we are 180 degrees out of phase. The image of our mine inspector is being destroyed, and we can't function unless we get this information.
Like I mentioned, we make an inspection every 3 months. I have 24 inspectors, but we depend on these people. Every person who works in that coal mine, we depend on him. He is his brother's keeper. If he sees a violation, he had better file information, and we will take testimony.
Senator WILLIAMS. Are you working on procedures to improve this?
Mr. MANULA. These procedures have been long established. They are being destroyed right now.
Mrs. GUTSHALL. Senator, we are hoping that eventually there will be better coordination so far as State and Federal assistance. There was a time we worked together, and I can remember the time because I have been around a number of years, but there is not that coordination today.
Aš Mr. Manula said, the inspectors are working separately. It is a case of one tearing down the other. We are not getting anywhere on safety. Instead of progressing, we are regressing.
Senator WILLIAMS. Senator Schweiker.
In Mr. Yablonski's statement this morning, I did not understand fully the explanation that the Interior Department gave on the explosion. Since you folks made the report, maybe you can straighten me out.
In your findings or conclusions or investigation, was the fact that one split of air covered two working faces, was that a factor? Had they been doing that as of your February report, and what general observations do you have?
Let me ask you this question. Is this a matter of law or regulations, so far as splits are concerned, in the State, or not?
I was very confused after hearing the Department of the Interior's statement on this accident.
Mr. MANULA. The difficulty was two mining machines working on these two splits.
The company was using what we call a temporary stopping. They were using line curtains instead of permanent stoppings. Every time a shuttle car penetrates that line curtain, you have an interruption in the ventilating system, so the less line curtains we have, the better off we are.
Senator SCHWEIKER. The break of the curtain interrupts the flow of air?