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Senator WILLIAMS. The second point is that I have requested an opinion by the Attorney General on the potential financial liability of the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act to miners and their widows for injuries and fatalities suffered in mines in which the Bureau has not observed the statutory requirement for spot inspections as well as mines in which the Bureau has conducted “partial but representative" inspections.
I wish to ask, and I am not concerned as to who might respond from among the gentlemen from the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Mines. You will recall that at the last session, Mr. Chairman, members of this subcommittee directed a telegram to the President of the United States, urging the expeditious sending of a nomination to the Senate of a qualified person to be Director of the U.S. Bureau of Mines.
I realize that you certainly could not speak for either the Secretary of the Department of the Interior and certainly not for the President of the United States, but I ask if you have knowledge of any action that has taken place, any conferences that have been held, any efforts that have been made, to do what this subcommittee believes should be done; namely, to have a director of the Bureau of Mines nominated and considered by the Senate and, hopefully, confirmed so that he might lead the Bureau in its very important work in the enforcement and the implementation of the Coal Mine Health and Safety Act.
STATEMENT OF HON. FRED RUSSELL, UNDER SECRETARY OF THE
INTERIOR; HOLLIS M. DOLE, ASSISTANT SECRETARY, MINERAL RESOURCES; HENRY WHEELER, JR., DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF THE BUREAU OF MINES FOR HEALTH AND SAFETY; JAMES WESTFIELD, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR COAL MINE HEALTH AND SAFETY; MITCHELL MELICH, SOLICITOR; AND WILLIAM A. GERSHUNY, ASSISTANT SOLICITOR, TRIAL BRANCH, AND ROBERT LONG, ASSOCIATE SOLICITOR-Resumed
Mr. DOLE. Mr. Chairman, Senator Randolph, I am pleased to tell the committee that great effort has been underway for some time. We have reviewed what I consider a fairly large number of extremely well-qualified people here in the United States who might possibly fill the position of Director of the Bureau of Mines.
It has been a searching task, but I think it has been one that has been most rewarding. I am pleased to announce to the committee that I can give you full assurance that every effort is being made for an announcement to come out at an early date.
Senator RANDOLPH. Mr. Dole, sometimes early dates really don't mean too much to us. I am not attempting to say that you are not being definitive in your reply, but perhaps it is not inappropriate for me to press you just a little in this matter. Do you think that the President might act on this nomination, let us say, within the coming week?
Mr. DOLE. Mr. Chairman, and Mr. Randolph, I doubt if it would be this coming week, but I am quite sure that it will be in a very short
time, and again I am not trying to be evasive on this, but in the selection of a Presidential nominee, as you are more aware than I, there are certain procedures such as FBI checks, as this man does have to handle sensitive material. There are other procedures that must be followed.
I have every assurance from the people who will make this announcement that they will take every means possible to bring this to an announcement as soon as possible, because they are as aware as you gentlemen on the committee and as we that the early placement of a director in the Bureau of Mines is an absolute necessity.
Senator RANDOLPH. Mr. Dole, I am grateful, as I am sure our Chairman is, for your response to this question.
I would ask you, further, approximately how many employees are there at the present time within the U.S. Bureau of Mines?
Mr. DOLE. I am informed by Dr. Hayes that the number is 4,700.
Senator RANDOLPH. I do believe, Mr. Dole and gentlemen, that not only is there an acute need for implementation and enforcement of the Coal Mine Health and Safety Act, but the employees themselves, gentlemen, need leadership at this time. I imagine the esprit de corps of the Bureau of Mines cannot be the best if month after month it goes without a Director. Do you wish to make response to that statement?
Mr. DOLE. Yes, Senator Randolph, I would agree with you entirely and we are cognizant of this very fact. I can assure you that this leadership will be forthcoming. I can assure you that when it does arrive, we believe that it will do a lot to bring back this great esprit de corps that has existed in the Bureau of Mines and lately has been flagging.
Senator RANDOLPH. I thank you very much. We have confidence in what you are saying in this matter. We are not talking about just another person to be nominated. This is much more than that. The broad program of the Bureau of Mines in many fields is involved, particularly in the area we are discussing in the oversight hearings.
Mr. Chairman, with your indulgence I should like to make just one further statement.
You and the witness have mentioned the process of inspection. I do not want to attempt to draw sides in this matter. There is a continuing criticism of the Bureau of Mines for its failure to enforce the provisions of this act. You have heard this and you are familiar with it. I wish my position to be clearly understood. I want you to move as quickly as possible, as effectively as possible, but I also understand that you cannot move from 200-some inspectors to a needed 700-some inspectors and do it overnight, to use an expression, because those inspectors must be highly skilled, efficient, dedicated inspectors.
So, if there is some fumbling in these first few months, I think you will be better able in the months ahead, because of recognition of errors, to do your task than you have done in the past.
I have a full recognition, I am sure the chairman shares this recognition of the problems mentioned in these hearings; namely, the manpower problem.
Mr. Dole, you told us that the process of screening and employing and placing these men in the field was going to move forward. I
realized only a few days have come and
attention to that matter when questioned.
Do you have any further information that might encourage the subcommittee and the Congress, the miners, the operators, and people generally on this point?
Mr. DOLE. Senator Randolph, I have prepared a supplemental statement outlining a good many of the things that we are doing, that we have underway, and I think you will find this to be quite informative of the actions that we are taking. Some of these, I think you will agree with me, I hope, are innovative as you had hoped they would be. When the time is ready, Mr. Chairman, I would like to read into the record this supplemental statement.
Senator RANDOLPH. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity of following your statement with my brief remarks and questioning. Thank you.
Senator WILLIAMS. We will proceed now, Mr. Dole, with the supplementary statement that you requested to make. We will be glad to have you mal:e it now.
Mr. DOLE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
We welcome this opportunity to appear before your committee again. With your permission, I would like to begin with a supplemental statement and to submit, for the record, some additional information that we believe would help you understand our efforts to implement the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969.
On Monday of this week another meeting was held in the Bureau of Mines to review the process of recruiting and hiring new inspectors to determine if the time required in this process can be further reduced. In ordinary circumstances, this process involves about 16 steps and takes about 8 to 9 months. If we are to meet our employment goals, it must be reduced to 4 months.
We have been assured by our personnel people that this process can be reduced to 4.5 months, and they are seeking ways to reduce it further.
The new walk-in examinations for coal mine inspectors are firmly scheduled to begin on September 14, and no slippage in this schedule will be tolerated. Among other publicity, a TV spot announcement has already been taped in which Secretary Hickel will invite coal miners, mine foremen, safety committeemen, mining engineers and other experienced coal miners to take these examinations. Another TV spot is being made in which one of our inspectors will point out the benefits and the opportunities enjoyed by our inspectors, it is significant. I think, that the Secretary himself is participating in our efforts to recruit new inspectors.
I would like to submit for the record an outline of our classroom training program for new inspectors. Our assistant director of education and training has been in Pittsburgh this week to investigate ways to supplement this training with homestudy texts and aids. We intend to provide the best possible training for our new inspectors in the time that is available. We would be pleased to have a representative from your committee visit and see firsthand the program that is in progress now at Mount Hope, W.Va.
Within 2 years, we expect to have a mine safety academy in operation to provide training and retraining for inspectors and for other health and safety personnel from industry, labor and the States as well as for our own needs.
A report, which is being made for us by the West Virginia University, on the establishment of such an academy is in the final stages of preparation. A site will be selected within a few weeks; and architectengineering and preliminary on-site work for the academy will be underway in a few months. Although we are presently most intent upon meeting our short-term personnel needs, we are also working to establish a solid new base to assure the development of needed health and safety expertise for the future.
Senator RANDOLPH. Mr. Chairman, could I interrupt?
Senator RANDOLPH. That is in Fayette County, W. Va.; is that correct?
Mr. DOLE. Yes, sir.
Senator RANDOLPH. What has that installation of the Bureau of Mines been accomplishing during the years?
Mr. Dole. Would you like to speak to that, Mr. Wheeler?
Mr. WESTFIELD. The Mount Hope Station was established, I am quite sure, in 1941 or 1940, the latter part of 1940, at the time of the first coal mine inspection legislation. At that time we had quarters in the hotel at Mount Hope. Later we were able to have a building constructed for the Bureau of Mines by the General Services Administration under a lease-purchase arrangement, and this was one of the 12 buildings, I believe, at the time that were allotted by Congress.
This building provides some of the best headquarters and best office space and facilities of any of our coal mine inspection areas. We have classroom facilities for training, and sufficient space for our inspectors in this area. There is no research work done in this area at all.
We do analyze air samples and dust samples at this installation and we have a laboratory for this, but there is no research being conducted at this station.
Senator RANDOLPH. Mr. Chairman, it was placed temporarily in the hotel. Of course, with the highway developments, the city itself changed and the new building, as the witnesses have said, was established under the lease arrangement with the General Services Administ ration.
The reason I really asked the question is to inquire: Will you have points throughout the coal mining areas of the States where you can expedite the process of training inspectors!
Mr. WHEELER. Senator Randolph, we will have to do training in Pittsburgh as well as at Mount Hope in order to provide the training for all the many inspectors that we intend to employ.
I would like to supplement what Jim has said. I have only been in this organization for a year and a half. I do not think that there is any question but what the facilities we have at Mount Hope and leadership we have at Mount Hope in the person of Bill Park, whom I think you know, is outstanding. I only wish that we had the same kind of facilities at the remainder of our places.
Senator RANDOLPH. Thank you very much. I will not pursue it further except to say that I think it is very important that in the field such an installation as Mount Hope should be used to the fullest degree.
Senator WILLIAMS. You may proceed, Mr. Dole.
To supplement what has already been said with regard to "partialbut-representative inspections" and "reasonable time," I would like to submit for the record copies of, first, a memorandum dated March 26, 1970, about the partial-but-representative inspections, and second, a telegram dated April 2, 1970, regarding reasonable time to abate a violation. I would also like to inform the committee that in the first 4 days of this week, our inspectors have made 169 spot inspections of mines having "especially 'hazardus” conditions.
Senator WILLIAMS. What period is this?
Mr. Dole. This past week, Mr. Chairman, the first 4 days of this past week.
We are now making these inspections at the rate indicated in my previous statement.
With regard to the accident in the Homer City mine which you inquired about, we have made copies of the inspection and investigation reports and related documents available to the committee staff and we have talked with the inspector who inspected the mine. Upon reviewing these records and the notes: made by the inspector in the course of the inspection, we are convinced that he made the required methane and air measurements anď otherwise did a good job in the areas of the mine that he inspected.
As was pointed out in our previous discussions, the conditions in the mine change as the work progresses, and apparently this happened in the Homer City mine. Jim Westfield has all of the particulars with regard to the inspection and investigation, and he is here to answer any questions that you might have.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
One of the questions given to us by your staff last week was about funds committeed to research and development. The Bureau will spend $20.3 million this fiscal year on coal mine health and safety research-$5.7 million on health research and $14.6 million on safety research. This research is planned and conducted as an integral part of the Bureau's total research effort, which is also directed and toward our Nation's minerals resource base and reducing costs-not only in terms of money, but also in terms of environmental and other social effects.
Through these efforts, we seek to assure that health and safety is built in—not merely added on—to new minerals technology. Specific