Page images
PDF
EPUB

a

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Senator RANDOLPH. You heard Mrs. Gutshall in her statement speak of the number of fatal accidents in the production of a certain amount of bituminous coal in Pennsylvania. You also heard her speak of the first 6 months of 1970, and that is after this act became law, there were a certain number of accidents in the production of a certain tonnage.

Could you provide for the committee comparable figures for the State of West Virginia ?

I doubt that you can give them to us today, but I think it would be helpful.

I particularly listened to what she said on this matter, in the year 1969 fatal accidents, you see, in the production of a certain number of tons of coal. In other words, per fatality.

Mr. Riley. Mine are not broken down as such, Senator, but as of June 1 through May, our fatal frequency was 0.70. The nonfatal, we were not a bit proud of, is 59.61. All accidents were 60.30.

To date, as of yesterday, because I don't know what has occurred today, we have had 34 fatalities in the State, compared to 44 for a comparable period last year.

Senator RANDOLPH. Is that the first 6 months you are talking about?

Mr. Riley. The first 6 months, we were better. We had 14 less. July was a bad month for us. Why, I don't know, but there has been a lot of labor interruption. Whether this had any bearing on it or not, I would not attempt to say.

June 30 (first 6 months of 1970), we had 14 less fatalities than we for a corresponding time in 1969. We had 26, as I say, against 40. Now,

1 eight occurred in July, which was the worst month for a year and a half, since I have been there.

Senator RANDOLPH. How many coal miners are now employed in West Virginia ?

Mr. RILEY. Close to 41,000, 42,000.

Senator RANDOLPH. What would that be as contrasted with 5 years ago? Mr. Riley. Possibly a few less. Senator RANDOLPH. Ten years ago? Mr. RILEY. Still less, possibly. Senator RANDOLPH. Is it dropping all the while?

Mr. Riley. Not to any great extent. I would think possibly now it is leveling off, but there were some changes through mechanical mining, which requires less people, but I would think it is pretty well established as of now.

Senator RANDOLPH. How would the tonnage for the first 6 months of this year compare with the tonnage of the first 6 months of last year!

Mr. RILEY. To date, August 6, again, we had 72 million compared to 139 million for the year. I don't have it broken down in figures.

Senator RANDOLPH. Generally, is the tonnage up or down in West Virginia in the last 2 or 3 years?

Mr. Riley. It is down. It was down last year considerable. We dropped from 145 million to 139 million. Prior to that, we were up to 150 million. The highest tonnage that we had was about 3 years ago. when it was 150-some million.

Senator RANDOLPH. Now it is 139 million?
Mr. RILEY. 139 million last year.
Senator RANDOLPH. Is that down because of work stoppages!

Mr. Riley. I would say possibly in part, not entirely work stoppages, but possibly in part.

Senator RANDOLPH. Mr. Riley, just one final question.

Do you believe that this law can be effective in West Virginia, and that you at the State level can cooperate with it?

I don't mean you have given endorsement of all of its provisions, but do you believe that it is possible to have cooperation and understanding, a working together, as it were, between the Federal and the State people to further insure the safety and contribute to the health of miners?

Mr. Riley. Yes, sir; I do.

The fact that we started immediately to upgrade ours to meet the Federal standards would indicate that we accepted them. I see nothing here that we can't live with.

Senator RANDOLPH. Not only live with, but prosper under? Is that right?

Mr. RILEY. Well, I think it is a good law. There may be some questionable area there, but I don't want to get into that.

Senator RANDOLPH. Thank you very much, Mr. Riley.

I hope, Mr. Chairman, you will forgive my going ahead of you. I believe you were out at the time.

Senator WILLIAMS (presiding). I appreciate that you took the chairmanship.

Senator RANDOLPH. Mr. Riley has been very patient. He is the man who came early today, and has stayed late.

Senator WILLIAMs. Now, we have not tested him, really. I haven't gotten to my questions.

We certainly appreciate your coming to Washington and helping us.

Obviously, West Virginia is No. 1 in the Nation in this industry, that is one of our most important industries. We know it where I come from every day, and, of course, we are concerned during hot weather that the coal supplies be adequate to generate our electricity up there.

I understand that this temporary period of stoppages is gone, and the men are back at work in West Virginia.

Mr. Riley. It looks much better; yes, sir.
Senator WILLIAMS. Just one or two questions.

You mentioned the geological differences between areas in many ways, particularly in coal mining. I just wonder if the geology of West Virginia would lend itself at some later time to the long wall method of coal mining.

Mr. Riley. It is being practiced in, I would say, at least a half dozen mines in West Virginia.

Senator WILLIAMS. Is that right?

Mr. Riley. Yes, sir. We have one in the Fairmont field, and at least one, possibly two, in Kanawha division. Over in Boone County, I am sure there are a couple.

Senator WILLIAMS. You know, if you could drop me a note personally where they are, if I ever get into that area, as a matter of personal education I would like to stop by.

Mr. Riley. I will be glad to.
Senator WilliAMS. Let me ask

you

this. A couple of factors in mine safety are different in the long wall, I believe. You tell whether I am believing right; or whether I am not.

For instance, the ventilation is made easier, isn't it, in the long wall operation?

Mr. Riley. The ventilation is probably made easier, but you also have the dust problem. The tail across the face as it comes down the return, it creates quite a dusty situation, but they are working rather strenuously on that.

One method, if you don't mind, is drilling into the coal, infusing water to the point where it is almost visible on the face of the coal, in fact it is in several places. This almost alows dust-free mining. They are working quite a bit on this.

Senator WILLIAMS. That is under either a continuous miner or the long wall?

Mr. Riley. I believe it is more prevalent in long wall mining.

Senator WILLIAMS. Then if you combat that, dealing with the dust, with the better ventilation, you have a safer situation, don't you?

Mr. Riley. I feel it is safer, roof fallwise and possibly ventilation wise.

Senator WILLIAMS. Just one other fast question in connection with the Operation Roof Control that West Virginia has been embarked upon.

As you say, and we had testimony, this is the major cause of accidents, the roof fall, and more fatalities came from this than from any other reason.

With the limited observation we made in the committee, we have observed the roof bolt, and that is still the basic method, I suppose, except on the long wall, where there is a different roof support, which is the safest support, by the way, again on the long wall.

Mr. Riley. Well, the long wall is a different type of support. You have these chocks across the face all the time.

The roof bolting is a good safe method. We have some failures, certainly, and this can be expected, but we also have to curb people going beyond the last roof support.

In this Operation Roof Control, I might state that this was one of the strong points. We contacted every individual in coal mining. We didn't look at anything else on these spot checks, whatever you want to call them. We just dealt primarily with roof control, and the habits of the working people.

I think both of them had its effect, talking with the individuals and stressing the fact that the roof support plan must be complied with.

Senator Williams. What was the length of the regular roof bolt in West Virginia ?

Mr. Riley. It varied, Senator, from 36 inches to, I know one mine where they used 12-foot bolts to augment the 6 and 7 feet.

I would say the average bolt would be 6 feet. That depends again on the area of the State. The southern part of the State, it would be a much shorter bolt, certainly.

Senator WILLIAMS. Very good. Thank you.

Mr. Riley. I am sorry that I didn't have more facts and figures, but on such short notice

Senator RANDOLPH. I think, Mr. Chairman, you will want to give Mr. Riley the privilege, if he feels that he has charts, graphs, additional material that he could use to supplement his statement, that that could be received by the subcommittee and be included in his statement.

Senator Williams. Certainly.
I have nothing further, except to thank you.
(The information referred to follows:)

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

TO The Honorable
Senator, Harrison Williams, Chairman
United States Senate Subcommittee on Labor
Office Senate Building
Washington, D. C.

Dear Senator Williams :

Enclosed is a list of coal companies, mine or number, and locations that are employing the Long Wall Mining system in West Virginia. Also, included in this report is other material that we hope you will find helpful to the Committee.

One item you will note, regarding the number of fatalities, is contrary to the statement made by the representatives of the Pennsylvania Department of Mines. For the first six months of this year we had a total of twenty-six (26) fatals compared to forty (40) for the first six months of 1969.

Enclosed you will also find a list of non-fatal accidents, classifications, age groups, and etc.

The testimony given by a member of the United Mine Workers of America, at the Senate Subcommittee hearing on August ?, 1970, stated that coal dust along belt lines in the Loveridge Mine, Consolidation Coal Company, was from 7 to 12 inches deep. He also testified there had been several face ignitions at this

Senator, Harrison Williams
August 12, 1970
Page 2

In checking with our division office we were advised that our inspector has never found a dusty condition of this magnitude. He did state we have had three ignitions that were confined to the face of this mine. The ignitions occured the 13 and 17 of April and the 22 of May.

If we can be of any assistance, in the near future feel free to contact our office.

Very truly yours,

Saul C. Riley

PAUL C. RILEY
Deputy Director

PCR/vb
Enc.
CC-Senator, Jennings Randolph

« PreviousContinue »