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27 January 2014 - NOTICE: COMMENT PERIOD

To: All persons interested in Rules and Regulations constructed by the Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety
From: Joel L. Watts, Administrator – BCMH&S

Subject: 36.55 – Rules Governing Haulage Safety Generally: Proximity Detection Systems Required; Use of Cameras on Section Equipment; Pre-Operation Equipment Checks Expanded; Machine Operators to Check Haulage Routes; Machine Operators To Sound Warning Devices; Reflective Clothing Required; Strobe lights, extension rods (pogo sticks) or cones to be Used at Hazardous Work Sites; The Director Shall Expedite Approval of Extended Mining Plans; Industry-Wide Regulatory Training; Other Section Haulage Safety Provisions
 
Authority: §22A-6-4

The Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety is created pursuant to WV Code  §22A-6-1

At the 16 November 2013 meeting of the Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety, the Health and Safety Administrator was directed twice to write rules towards the use of proximity detectors and other avenues of safety in underground coal mines. On 12 December 2013, in response to two fatalities, the Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety voted to pursue rulemaking to prevent the reoccurrence of similar fatalities and to include based on the maturity of the technology, the use of proximity detection equipment. 

A public subcommittee of the Board met 6 January 2014 to finalize a draft proposed rule which was in turn presented at the 16 January 2014 meeting of the Board. At this time, the Board, after offering several amendments and after due consideration of all viewpoints, voted to submit the attached rule for public comment. 

The proposed rule sets forth a more comprehensive approach to underground haulage accidents by requiring the following:   

·  Proximity detection systems on all “newly purchased” place-change continuous miners within 6 months following the effective date of the rule and all rebuilt place-change miners within 12 months of the effective date of this rule;

·  Proximity detection systems on all existing place-change continuous miners within 36 months of the effective date of this rule;

·  Cameras or proximity detection systems on scoop cars and battery-powered section haulage equipment within 36 months of the effective date of this rule;

·  The Office of Miners’ Health Safety & Training is obligated to visit each mine in the state and to host regional workshops to discuss the new requirements and disseminate information on Proximity devices and the use of cameras on underground equipment;

·  Individual machine operators are to ensure their personal safety and the safety of the equipment entrusted to them and others who may be working in the same area of a mine by performing equipment inspections, checking roadways and sounding alarms.

·  A minimum of 100 square inches of reflective or highly visible clothing to be worn by all underground employees.

·  The use of strobes lights, warning cones or extension rods are to be used at hazardous work sites

·  Places a responsibility of the OMHST Director to seek to commence the expeditious approval of extended-cut mining plans with MSHA to reduce instances of unnecessary equipment moves underground;

·  Restates a number of underground haulage safety provisions found in various rules currently in effect (section 13); and

·  Mine site safety meetings to review the provisions of the rule.

The Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety is asking for any all comments related to this technology and other avenues of underground haulage safety to be submitted to the Health and Safety Administrator no later than close of business 28 February 2014. 

Further, the Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety specifically desires comments related to the possible inclusion of a strobe light on shuttle cars. 

All comments related to this rules are to be submitted via one of the following:

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Fax: 304.558.1224

Or, you may mail them to:

Joel L. Watts
1900 Kanawha BLVD East
State Capitol Complex
Bldg 6, Ste 652
Charleston, WV 25301

Charleston, WV (January 16, 2014) – Today, the West Virginia Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety unanimously proposed an unprecedented, comprehensive mine safety rule affecting new mining technologies, additional haulage safeguards, worker training, and human performance issues. The proposed rule will be available for public comment for a 30-day period to allow mine health and safety professionals and members of the public from around the state to offer their suggestions.

Joel Watts, administrator for the West Virginia Board of Coal Mine Health & Safety, said, “The Board’s commitment to mine safety is reflected throughout the multi-pronged approach to correcting underground coal mining dangers and to put West Virginia’s coal miners in a safer environment than what exists anywhere else in the world.  As just one example of the unprecedented nature of this proposal, no other state or federal law establishes the same level of protection for underground section haulage tasks than what is found in the Board’s proposal.  The Board is truly a pioneer in requiring the use of this new technology, which only recently matured enough to be commercially viable.”

Watts continued, “The Board’s quick and decisive action comes after similar rules have stalled on the federal level.  The Board feels that the technology has finally advanced to a place where continuous mining machinery should have proximity devices on them. The proposal also includes many other safety improvements.  The Board has acted carefully and thoughtfully on the proposal, and it will continue to work together to ensure the safety of our miners remains our number one priority.”

The proposed rule sets forth a more comprehensive approach to underground haulage accidents by requiring the following:   

Proximity detection systems on all “newly purchased” place-change continuous miners by within 6 months following the effective date of the rule and all rebuilt place-change miners within 12 months of the effective date of this rule;

·  Proximity detection systems on all existing place-change continuous miners by within 36 months of the effective date of this rule;

·  Cameras or proximity detection systems on scoop cars and battery-powered section haulage equipment within 36 months of the effective date of this rule;

·  The Office of Miners’ Health Safety & Training is obligated to visit each mine in the state and to host regional workshops to discuss the new requirements and disseminate information on Proximity devices and the use of cameras on underground equipment;

·  Individual machine operators are to ensure their personal safety and the safety of the equipment entrusted to them and others who may be working in the same area of a mine by performing equipment inspections, checking roadways and sounding alarms.

·  A minimum of 100 square inches of reflective or highly visible clothing to be worn by all underground employees.

·  The use of strobes lights, warning cones or extension rods are to be used at hazardous work sites

·  Places a responsibility of the OMHST Director to seek to commence the expeditious approval of extended-cut mining plans with MSHA to reduce instances of unnecessary equipment moves underground;

·  Restates a number of underground haulage safety provisions found in various rules currently in effect (section 13); and

·  Mine site safety meetings to review the provisions of the rule.

Watts said that during the December 12, 2013 meeting of the Board, members heard the final reports on several fatal mining incidents that involved the loss of life due to accidents involving underground machinery. Acting as statue allows and dictates, the Board voted unanimously to begin the process of drafting rules to address this situation. Today, the Board took the next step by unanimously agreeing to post the proposal for comment, also according to statute. 

The Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety is composed of members representing the viewpoints of the operators and labor. It is comprised of Chris Hamilton, WV Coal Association; Ted Hapney, UMWA; Terry Hudson, Patriot Coal; Carl Egnor, UMWA; Charles Russell, Arch Coal; and Gary Trout, UMWA.

For additional information, contact Joel Watts at (304) 957-2306.

Louisiana Terminals Expand to Move Mississippi River Cargo to Overseas Power Plants

By Alison Sider 

At the southeastern tip of Louisiana, barges piled high with coal reach the end of a long trip down the Mississippi River on its way overseas.

It's a journey that is becoming more common.

The U.S. typically has been one of the top exporters of metallurgical coal, which is used to make steel, most of it mined in Appalachia and shipped from...

Read More

Charleston, WV – The West Virginia Coal Forum and the Morgantown Chamber of Commerce will host a meeting to discuss the significance of the coal industry and coal exports to northcentral West Virginia, our state and the nation from 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 5th at the Waterfront Place Hotel in Morgantown, WV. 

A variety of regional experts and policy leaders will speak at the event, to include: 

·  Congressman David McKinley, U.S. House of Representatives (Invited)

·  Richard Bajura, Director, National Research Center for Coal and Energy

·  Bill Raney, President, WV Coal Association

·  Jeff Herholdt, Director, WV Division of Energy

·  Chris Hamilton, Vice-President, WV Coal Association & Co-Chair, WV Coal Forum

·  Fred Tucker, UMWA, Co-Chair, WV Coal Forum

According to information released by the West Virginia Division of Commerce in February, West Virginia coal exports grew by 40 percent last year, increasing from $5.3 billion in 2011 to $7.4 billion in 2012.  West Virginia coal accounted for 49 percent of U.S. coal exports in 2012. The Coal Forum program will highlight our state’s leading role as an energy provider to the world, the benefits of the severance tax to northcentral West Virginia, and federal policies impacting the industry.

Seating is limited and reservations are required.  To make a reservation please email Joel Watts atThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

There is no cost to attend the event. A buffet lunch will be served. 

Stakeholders in West Virginia’s mining economy – business leaders, association representatives, local legislators and policy leaders – are encouraged to attend.

The West Virginia Coal Forum is an organization representing both labor and management in the coal industry charged with working towards the betterment of the state’s coal industry.  For additional information, contact the West Virginia Coal Forum at (304) 957-2306, or visit the organization’s website at www.wvcoalforum.org.

The West Virginia Coal Forum, in conjunction with West Liberty University, conducted a meeting on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at West Liberty University’s Highland Energy Center in Tridelphia, West Virginia. 

Robin Capehart, president of West Liberty University kicked off the meeting by welcoming event attendees and recognizing the importance of the coal industry to the northern panhandle and the State.  He stated, “I learned from an early age the importance of the mining industry and all that coal does for our region.  My father worked at an area power plant and I also worked for a business that did work for the industry.  We need to do all we can to assure a bright future for coal and West Liberty stands ready to assist.”

Jeff Kessler, president of the West Virginia Senate and a native of Marshall County, headlined the event.  “There is no doubt that West Virginia will continue to produce coal,” Kessler stated.  “Many may not realize it, but Marshall County is the state’s top coal producing county.  That’s my home and I’m proud of that fact.”

“Concerning the new federal policies confronting the industry, we need stability and predictability.  We need reasonable regulation and a reasonable timeframe within which to adapt and comply.”

Ritchie Parsons, representing Congressman David McKinley, read a letter from the Congressman.  McKinley said, “Coal will continue to be the backbone and cornerstone of West Virginia’s economy and I am doing everything I can in Washington to make sure that is the case.”

Bill Raney and Chris Hamilton with the West Virginia Coal Association, Mike Zervos, CEO of United Coal and Jeff Herholdt, WV Dept. of Energy, discussed the importance of coal exports to the state budget and the factors involved in the global coal export market.

Deigo Gattesco, director, U.S. Export Assistance Center for the region covering West Virginia, affirmed the tremendous increase in coal exports.  He said that exports have risen from several hundred million dollars in 2002 to more than $7 billion in 2012.  “I would encourage the coal industry to utilize the services of the U.S. Commercial Service.  We are here to help and can assist in a myriad of ways.  From identifying prospective customers in other countries to arranging meetings.  “That is our job and we are here to help,” Gattesco said.

A third Coal Forum meeting is being planned for Martinsburg, West Virginia.  A date and time will be announced in the near future.

The West Virginia Coal Forum with co-hosts the Chamber of Commerce of Martinsburg & Berkeley County, Jefferson County Economic Development Authority, Berkeley County Economic Development Authority, the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce and the Eastern Panhandle Business Association conducted a meeting on Wednesday, September 4th to discuss the significance of the coal industry and coal exports to the Eastern Panhandle, our state and the nation at the Martinsburg Holiday Inn.Coal Forum Co-Chairmen Chris Hamilton, WV Coal Association, and Fred Tucker, UMWA, welcomed the more than 70 event attendees and set the stage for the meeting.

Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito headlined the event and expressed her support for the mining industry and the benefits it provides to the state, including the Eastern Panhandle, and the nation. She stated that EPA’s ongoing regulatory actions are clearly a ‘war on coal’ and that she will continue to do all she can to maintain fairness and industry viability.

While Senator Joe Manchin was unable to attend the meeting, he sent a representative to read a statement. In the statement he offered his appreciation for the event and those participating, and expressed the importance of understanding the benefits mining provides the state and country.

Several Eastern Panhandle legislators were in attendance at the event, including Del. Tiffany Lawrence, Del. John Overington, Del. Ron Walters and others. Senator John Unger, Senator Majority Leader, and Delegate Daryl Cowles, House Minority Whip, addressed the group, highlighting the impact mining has on the region and thanking the event organizers for coming to the area to discuss this important topic.

Bill Raney, president of the WV Coal Association, and Mark Muchow, deputy secretary for the WV Division of Tax & Revenue, shared statistics demonstrating the importance of mining to the Eastern Panhandle, as well as the state. They informed the group that the Eastern Panhandle has received nearly $52 million from coal severance funding through the Infrastructure, Jobs & Development Council since 1994. These funds have been used to leverage tens of millions of dollars in other funding to maintain and upgrade water lines, wastewater treatment and to pursue economic development initiatives. Additionally, Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan Counties received over $820,000 in municipal and county severance tax distributions in 2012.

Jerry Mullins, a representative with the National Mining Association, highlighted the huge role West Virginia’s coal industry plays in coal exports – contributing nearly half of all coal exported from the United States. In 2012, the United States exported 126 million short tons of coal -12 percent more than the previous high set in 1981. Each million tons of U.S. coal exported contributes an estimated 1,320 total jobs to the U.S. economy.

Eugene Trisko, an energy industry economist and attorney representing the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCE), educated the group on the imminent threats posed by EPA’s green house gas regulations.

Trisko offered that West Virginia households with gross annual incomes below $50,000 – representing 61% of West Virginia’s population – spend an estimated average of 21% of their after-tax income on energy. Two proposals facing the industry have the ability to further increase those costs.

The first proposal would impose stiffer air quality regulations on currently operating power plants. The second would impose performance standards for new generation facilities. Both rules create a standard that is unattainable by coal-fired power plants under current market conditions and available technologies.

If implemented, Trisko said, literally hundreds of thousands of direct and indirect industry jobs are placed at risk. 

And on a more positive note, Giovanni Girelli and Brad Blasé with Martinsburg-based Essroc Italcementi showcased the role coal plays in the cement industry and their business. Many may not realize that the cement industry is one of the nation’s top users of coal-fired electricity. The company recently invested more than half a billion dollars to upgrade their processing facilities – a huge investment in the region.

Eastern Panhandle media covered the event, to include the Martinsburg Journal, WHAG-TV, WV Public Radio and Reuters. Additionally, Chris Hamilton and Bill Raney conducted live, on-air radio interviews with WEPW and WRNR.