« PreviousContinue »
Mr. MANULA. Exactly.
You can operate four continuous miners operating with two shuttle cars. Every time the shuttle car breaks the line curtain, there is an interruption.
Senator SCHWEIKER. That is the result of the split operation ?
Senator SCHWEIKER. Would that also be true if they had not had the split?
Mr. MANULA. No.
Senator SCHWEIKER. If one split had handled one face, would that condition have prevailed?
Mr. MANULA. I would say no, but I would say it is better to operate any single unit on a single split of air. This is something that is required in the Pennsylvania law, as it is in the Federal law.
I think any machine, Senator, for that matter, should be on a separate split of air. We have better control of ventilation.
Senator_SCHWEIKER. Your inspectors would automatically look for this, I assume.
Mr. MANULA. Definitely.
Our inspectors also have discretionery power. Our law gives us the basic ingredient. However, we can add as many as we want, not any less. It is up to the mine inspector. There is a certain basic number here, a minimum number. However, if the inspector feels that we used more of something, we need more air, the line curtain should be extended within 4 feet of the face, you should not take any more than one shuttle car at a time before you make an examination, die will order the company to do this.
The company has one recourse. They can always follow the commission mine inspectors from the other districts, if they don't agree with that district inspector, until the time the commission makes their finding. This is the law of the Commonwealth.
Senator SCHWEIKER. I would like to ask Mrs. Gutshall, on page 6 you made the statement that was of interest to me. You said.
As an example, requirements for application of rock dust under this law contributes to white lung.
I wonder if you would explain what we are getting into here, what white lung is, and why you feel this is a danger.
Mrs. GUTSHALL. Yes; Senator.
There was a period of time right after the Federal law became law that the Federal inspectors were making inspections quite rapidly in Pennsylvania mines, and going in, determining in their opinion there was not sufficient rock dusting. In making this request, they insisted on what we felt was far more rock dusting than was required. It was a case of not having black dust, it was a case of having white dust.
Senator SCHWEIKER. What does that white dust consist of?
Mrs. GUTSHALL. In our opinion, it was just going overboard. It was a case of not using good practical, realistic judgment in requiring what should have been required. It is a case of requiring too much of something that created more of a hazard.
In fact, we were called by a committee in one mine where they were using so much of rock dusting it was causing a slipping problem.
Senator SCHWEIKER. You also made a statement later on about the Federal-State coordination, which I think is an excellent point.
In that you said that, “To date we know of no meeting ever held," then you did say a few moments ago there was another meeting, but that was at your request as opposed to what you said here.
Mrs. GUTSHALL. Yes. In fact, the reason for that meeting was what we just discussed.
Industry came to us regarding the fact that this rock dusting was out of hand completely. It was, as I say, right after the new Federal law passed. I personally called and asked Mr. O'Leary if we could come down with industry to discuss that particular point with them. That is why we had one meeting on that issue.
Senator SCHWEIKER. I think it is a very good point.
I suggest when we get the witnesses from Interior back again, we get into that, because unfortunately we didn't get into that this morning.
But I assure you we will.
Mrs. GUTSHALL. Incidentally, let me review the material presented by Secretary Dole. There were comments regarding cooperation and coordination with everyone but State representation.
Of course, I am from the State, and I am interested in the State being represented, but there was nothing in his testimony indicating that the State had at any time been contacted. It is in his own testimony as of today.
Senator SCHWEIKER. That is all I have.
Senator Williams. I think that is a very worthy point. We will certainly mark that on our list for further inquiry when the Department comes back.
When we were visiting a mine, there was a bad feeling somehow between the Federal and State inspectors.
Mrs. GUTSHALL. It should be stopped from the top.
Senator RANDOLPH (presiding). Mr. Riley, will you come forward, please?
Mr. Riley, will you identify yourself for the record ?
STATEMENT OF PAUL C. RILEY, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, WEST
VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF MINES
Mr. RILEY. Yes; Wheeling-Morgantown area.
Senator RANDOLPH. How many years have you been in this work, Mr. Riley, work with the State bureau of mines?
Mr. Riley. Senator, I have a statement here.
Senator RANDOLPH. If you have it all in your statement, I will withdraw what I have said.
You go ahead, Mr. Riley.
Mr. RILEY. Senator Williams, honorable members of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Labor, I am Paul Riley, age 60, deputy director of the West Virginia Department of Mines.
Although I am testifying in my official capacity as deputy director of the West Virginia Department of Mines, I would like to say at the outset that prior to my appointment, I have spent all of my adult life in the coal mining industry. I have worked as a coal miner and was a member of the United Mine Workers Union. Also, I have worked in supervisory capacities for management in the coal industry.
As you are undoubtedly aware, West Virginia is the Nation's leading producer of coal. Because of this fact, perhaps we, more so than other States, are more sensitive to the needs of adopting and enforcing modern mine sa fety laws—whether they be State or Federal enactments.
Before going into detail, I believe a general observation must be made to better understand the scope of the problems as they relate to meeting safety standards.
Fundamentally, they center on the geological differences. If I may use as an example, the road conditions of the Midwest as compared to those in West Virginia. It should be obvious that flat, long straight stretches of highway do not impose the same kind of safety precautions that drivers will experience when traveling high and curving mountainous routes in West Virginia.
Nor will you find coal mines in one part of our State containing the same, identical geological conditions and characteristics that exist in other coal mines in another area of West Virginia.
Complicating these particular differences of a geological nature are the common problems that all coal mines in West Virginia sharethe problems of gas and the formation of rock strata and roof that envelop the coal seam.
Despite these hazards, we have made tremendous headway in a statewide assault on health and safety enforcement in West Virginia's coal mines.
We have been highly successful in reducing the number of fatalities from roof falls—which, you know, is the No. 1 killer in coal mines.
In September of 1969, the West Virginia Department of Mines started a concentrated safety program known as Operation Roof Control. This involved totally unannounced inspections of our State's nearly 1,100 coal mines, involving all of our department's inspectors.
Previous to Operation Roof Control, there were 23 fatalities caused by roof falls in the first 8 months of 1969. As a result of the program, the number was reduced to four in the last 4 months of 1969.
At about the same time the Federal health and safety mine law was up for passage, West Virginia, in November of last year, initiated another program to assure better protection for the health and welfare of the men who labor in our mines.
Called Operation Fire Boss, this effort is directed to make doubly sure every mine in our State is as safe as humanly possible from operational hazards. Operation Fire Boss gives us a better understanding of the actual conditions as observed by fire bosses during their regular inspections. Consequently, we have been able to move in and eliminate conditions that could lead to serious injury.
As a further step, in March of this year Gov. Arch A. Moore, Jr., ordered the State department of mines—with the cooperation of our State police to conduct an investigation of mine foremen and fire boss certification.
This investigation, which is still underway, was prompted by several reports of discrepancies and fraudulent card-carrying certificates.
This is a serious matter and cause of grave concern to us. There are some 9,000 card-carrying foremen and fire bosses now employed in West Virginia mines. Men lacking the necessary qualifications cannot be expected to perform these responsibilities competently and efficiently. To permit anything less than qualified personnel would be inviting tragedy and would greatly erode the elevated standards we seek in this vital industry.
With the passage of the Federal mine legislation, we submitted in January of this year to our State legislature a revised coal mine safety law that would bring West Virginia's standards on a par, and in two instances ahead, of the minimum Federal requirements.
The two areas exceeding Federal standards would have established the minimum quantity to 10,000 cubic feet of air per minute, as op, posed to the Federal code of 9,000 cubic feet, and it would have required the installation of an automatic circuit breaker device on operating machinery in the mines within 1 year after the law took effect.
However, I regret to report that this progressive legislation failed to be reported out of the respective committees of both chambers of West Virginia's Legislature.
We consider the failure of the bill to pass a temporary setback. We intend to submit it again at the next regular session in January of 1971.
As to our relationship with the Federal program, we have experienced complete cooperation with our Federal counterparts in both formal and informal meetings and discussions.
The Federal regulations are more powerful and place West Virginia's coal mine health and safety regulations to a secondary position of importance. But we believe, and it is our experience, that by working in conjunction with Federal inspectors, we can achieve the ultimate goal of greater safety for the life and limb of our miners.
Senator RANDOLPH. Mr. Riley, you heard Mrs. Gutshall speak about some differences between Federal and State inspectors as applies to their work in Pennsylvania, some friction, perhaps.
Has this occurred in West Virginia ?
Mr. Riley. In fact, we envision continuance of the autonomy we have had since the inception of the West Virginia Department of Mines in 1883.
The inspections conducted by our department, I should add, are held separately from those conducted by Federal inspectors.
Comparatively speaking, the Federal health and mine safety law is in its infancy, and like any new law, it will take time to determine whether all of its features are workable and enforceable. Because of its newness, it is rather awkward for me to submit a blanket appraisal of its effectiveness.
of this year.
With all due respect, there are several reasons why we believe it premature to offer what we would hope to be an objective and impartial assessment of the law's effects. These reasons center primarily on the developments that have occurred since it took effect March 30
When inspections by Bureau officials were first implemented under the new legislation, we were beginning to receive notices of fines and violations as they pertained to coal mines operating in West Virginia. Shortly afterward, there ensued, as you all know. litigation instituted by many coal operators who question the extent to which the law was being implemented. The legal outcome of these cases-many of them containing injunctions against the Bureau of Mines—is still pending. So, for all practical purposes, the full implementation of the Federal law is being held in abeyance. It would
be presumptuous at this stage, and in light of these unre. solved legal impediments, to pass judgment on a law that has yet to operate free of restraint in the 6 months of its existence.
Senator RANDOLPH. Mr. Riley, you speak of the law not yet being implemented or having the opportunity to be effective in West Virginia. Is that correct?
Mr. Riley. I mean in its entirety, in full measure.
You indicated, Mr. Riley, that your bureau in West Virginia had drafted legislation, and it had been introduced in the House of Delegates and in the Senate of the Legislature of West Virginia.
Who introduced that legislation in the House?
Senator RANDOLPH. The reason I am bringing this out, Mr. Siebert and Mr. Hedrick, in other words, although it was from your bureau, it was introduced by a Republican in the House, and a Democrat in the Senate. Is that right.!
Mr. RILEY. I believe so, sir.
Senator RANDOLPH: Were there cosponsors of this legislation ? Were there others who joined in support of it?
Mr. Riley. What happened here, Senator, when this Federal act came out, we knew that unless we had something equally as strong, our law would be secondary. We drafted what we thought was a fairly good bill in order to come up to the standards of the Bureau. In some cases, as I have said before, we exceeded it in a couple of cases, but I am not sure. In the absence of the Director
Senator RANDOLPH. Sure. Mr. Riley, you have indicated the legislation, although introduced, did not become law. Were there hearings held in both the House of Delegates and the State Senate?
Mr. Riley. Yes, sir; we had hearings on it.
Senator RANDOLPH. Did the committees report the legislation favorably, or just have hearings!
Mr. RILEY. They had a hearing, and decided to put it in committee, and I have not heard anything since, with the understanding that it would be submitted at the next session.