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Posts Tagged ‘imminent danger’

Friday, August 30, 2013 @ 05:08 PM gHale

Federal inspectors issued 149 citations and 16 orders during special impact inspections conducted at nine coal mines and four metal/nonmetal mines last month.

The monthly inspections, which began in force in April 2010 following the explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia, involve mines that merit increased agency attention and enforcement due to their poor compliance history or particular compliance concerns, said officials at the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

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These concerns include: high numbers of violations or closure orders; frequent hazard complaints or hotline calls; plan compliance issues; inadequate workplace examinations; a high number of accidents, injuries or illnesses; fatalities; adverse conditions, such as increased methane liberation, faulty roof conditions and inadequate ventilation; and respirable dust.

In one example of an impact inspection conducted at Affinity Coal Company LLC’s Affinity Mine in Raleigh County, WV, inspectors issued 13 citations, 10 unwarrantable failure orders and one imminent danger order.

MSHA inspectors secured communications from the surface to prevent the possibility of advance notice.

The imminent danger order was for when a foreman was riding as a passenger in the bucket of a rubber-tired scoop in a wet, rough and uneven entry. Riding in the bucket violated a safeguard MSHA issued on Sept. 17, 2012. A miner riding in the bucket of a scoop can end up thrown from the bucket and crushed. There have already been two fatalities involving scoops this year at the Affinity Mine.

Five of the unwarrantable failure orders were for violations of the mine’s ventilation plan.

MSHA measured no ventilation on a section where two miners were operating a roof bolter, and only 150 cubic feet per minute of ventilation on another section where the ventilation plan required 7,800 cfm and the operator was actively mining coal. These conditions have the potential to result in methane and dust accumulations that may result in an explosion or fire, and expose miners to conditions that can lead to black lung. MSHA inspectors found other similar conditions of airflow significantly below the mine’s ventilation plan requirements.

The operator also allowed excessive accumulations of combustible materials in the form of dry coal and coal dust ranging from 5 inches to 2 feet deep. Enforcement personnel identified 10 areas where the operator failed to apply rock dust along the mine roof and ribs for up to 80 feet, creating conditions that exposed miners to potential ignition and explosion hazards. The mine also faced citations for inadequate pre-shift examinations.

In addition, one unwarrantable failure order was for a violation of the roof control plan where the operator did not install reflectors to signal the last row of roof supports. Warning signals prevent miners from entering areas where the mine roof does not have support and could potentially collapse on them.

“While many mine operators have improved working conditions at their mines, we continue to see unacceptable conditions at some mines that put lives at risk,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Joseph A. Main. “The types of conditions found by inspectors during this surprise inspection are the types that can expose miners to methane and coal dust explosions and black lung, and cannot be tolerated in the mining industry.”

Since April 2010, MSHA conducted 642 impact inspections and issued 10,789 citations, 996 orders and 45 safeguards.

Thursday, May 30, 2013 @ 04:05 PM gHale

If Google is aware of a Zero Day, it is shortening the amount of time it gives to makers of vulnerable software and web services if it feels there is imminent danger to seven days from the previous 60 days.

The Google security team said if they encounter a Zero Day already actively used for cyber attacks, it will grant the affected manufacturer seven days to fix the vulnerabilities or publish an advisory with mitigation strategies for users.

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After seven days, Google wants to publish details of the vulnerability in such a way that users of the vulnerable software can protect themselves from attacks. Previously, the company had given vendors sixty days before it went public with details of vulnerabilities.

Google said, though, it has found Zero Day vulnerabilities used to target a limited subset of people and this targeting makes the attack more serious than a widespread attack and more important to resolve quickly, especially where political activists end up compromised and the attacks can have “real safety implications” in some parts of the world.

Even Google said the seven day period is an “aggressive time frame” but it should offer sufficient time for a vendor to either publish advice on how to temporarily disable a service, restrict access or offer contact information to provide more direct assistance.

“Each day an actively exploited vulnerability remains undisclosed to the public and unpatched, more computers will be compromised” Google said, adding it also plans to hold itself to the same standard and hopefully improve the coordination of web security and vulnerability management.

Friday, February 3, 2012 @ 11:02 AM gHale

Parts of CONSOL Energy’s Enlow Fork Mine in Washington County, PA, needed to shut down for about an hour due because of an imminent danger order from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

Inspectors found a concentration of methane above the permitted 1 percent in the working area, according to MSHA’s records.

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“That was a result of inadequate ventilation,” said Tom Light, MSHA’s district manager.

The condition was first an imminent danger, but they resolved the problem in less than an hour and the MSHA vacated the order. CONSOL disclosed the event in an SEC filing Thursday in accordance with new requirements set by the Dodd-Frank Act that went into effect Jan. 27.

Two days before that, a contractor at the mine, Ohio-based San-Con Industries Inc. which makes concrete silos and stacking tubes, had an accident and was ordered to “hold the scene” — stop operations — while MSHA inspectors completed their investigation, which happened Feb. 1.

The Enlow mine has had more than two dozen citations since the beginning of the year, but given the size of the operation, Light said that’s actually on the low side.

“We view this mine as actually a model operation,” Light said. “Most of the infractions are relatively insignificant” and don’t place workers in danger.

The Enlow Fork mine produced 9.1 million tons of steam coal last year and 1.1 million tons of high-vol metallurgical coal. It is one of CONSOL’s three mining operations in Pennsylvania and the second most productive mine in the company’s national portfolio.

Monday, December 19, 2011 @ 04:12 PM gHale

It is official: A federal judge in Lafayette, LA, OK’d a $10 million fine and $2 million in community service payments for Texas-based Pelican Refining Company LLC for felony violations of the Clean Air Act and obstruction of justice.

The Justice Department said Pelican admitted to several violations at its Lake Charles refinery, including the use of required equipment that did not work or did not undergo proper maintenance. Also, a pilot light in a flare tower where gases burn off didn’t work — so employees used an emergency flare gun to re-ignite the gases.

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Pelican pleaded guilty and agreed to the payments in October.

“This conviction sends a message to all those who threaten Louisiana’s precious environment that if they ignore their duty to adhere to the environmental laws, they will be investigated, prosecuted, fined and sentenced accordingly,” said U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley.

The Justice Department said Byron Hamilton, the Pelican vice president who oversaw operations at the Lake Charles refinery since 2005 from an office in Houston pleaded guilty on July 6 to negligently placing persons in imminent danger of death and serious bodily injury as a result of releases at the refinery.

On Oct. 31, Pelican’s former asphalt facilities manager, Mike LeBleu, pleaded guilty to a negligent endangerment charge under the Clean Air Act. Each man will get a sentence to up to a year in prison.

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