Federal regulators extend seals ETS comment period

FOR the second time since its issuance in May, the US Mine Safety and Health Administration has extended the comment period for its emergency temporary standard regarding seals.

Staff Reporter

Originally issued on May 22 as 72 FR 28796, the ETS comment period was initially given a deadline of July 6. After one extension to August 17 to allow for a series of public hearings, the new deadline for input will be September 17.

“This extension gives commenters additional time to review recently posted documents on MSHA's website and a recently published report from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) entitled Explosion Pressure Design Criteria for New Seals in US Coal Mines,” the agency said Tuesday in a public announcement.

It also noted the National Mining Association had made a request August 3 to extend the period by 30 days to permit enough additional time to comment on a number of new ETS-related items made publicly available on the agency’s website.

“[They include] a set of compliance assistance questions and answers posted on July 23, 2007; MSHA's Procedure Instruction Letter No. I07-V-04, Procedures for Inspection of Seals, issued on July 24, 2007, and posted on July 25, 2007; and the Seal Design Approval Information Template updated on August 2, 2007,” MSHA said.

Additionally, the agency announced, it posted four new seal designs to its site on August 2, three related to 50psi seals and one for 130psi designs.

For those who still wish to make a statement regarding the ETS, six methods are available to have comments submitted to MSHA.

The May ETS, only the fourth in 30 years, included proposals for the improvement of the design, construction, maintenance and repair of seals and new requisites for the sampling of air behind seals and keeping it at controlled levels.

The NIOSH report, Publication No. 2007-144, July 2007, is available on the agency’s website under www.cdc.gov/niosh/mining.

For the complete seals ETS, visit www.msha.gov/Seals/SealsSingleSource2007.asp.

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