oversight

Mine Safety and Health Administration: Information on Proposed Relocation of Its Denver Technical Center to West Virginia

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-04-30.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

United States
General Accounting Office
Washington, D.C. 20548

Health, Education and Human Services Division

B-275306

April 30, 1997
The Honorable Waynk Allard
The Honorable Ben Nighthorse Campbell
United States Senate
The Honorable Datid E. Skaggs
The Honorable Dan Schaefer
The Honorable Joel Hefley
The Honorable Scott McInnis
The Honorable Diana L. DeGette
The Honorable Bob Schaf?er
House of Representatives
Subject: Mine Safetv and He&h Admi&t&ioon: Infoimation on Pronosed
         Relocation of Its Denver Technical Center to WestVii

The Mine Safely and Health Admi&tr&on (MSHA), an agencywitbin the U.S.
Department of Labor, is responsible for protecting the safety and health of U.S.
miners who work in co&l, metal, and nonmetal mines. To do this, MSHA
maintains a staff of over 2,000people who enforce federal mining laws across
the country and support the agency’senforcement activities administratively or
technically. MSBA’s three technical centers in Denver, Colorado; Bruceton,
Pennsylvan@and TXadelphia, West Virginia, provide the engineeringand
scienufic resources the agency’s enforcement staff often need. This
correspondenceconcerns MSHA’s proposal to relocate its Safety and Health
Technology Center in Denver, Colorado, to Triadelphia, WestVirginia- In your
September l&1996, letter and through subsequentdiscussionswith your staffs,
you asked that we assessthe likely effect of the relocation plan on MSHA’s
-ability to protect the safety and health of mine workers in states west of the
  Mississippi, including the agency’sability to respond to mine emergencies
  nationwide, and




                                       GAO/l3EEIS-97~1OOlZ
                                                       MSEA Tech Center IZelocation
B-276306
- budget in the short term (fiscal years 199697),that is, what the short-term
  costs of the move would be?

This correspondence summa&es the information we presented to your staffs in
a preliminary briefing on December18, 1996,and provides MSHA’sresponses
to questions asked by your staff& during the briefing. (See enclosure I for
MSHA’Sanswm.)

To respond to your request, we reviewed literature on the mining industry;
agencyplanning and relocation documents;and cost data on MSHA operations,
including its three technical centers. We also surveyed ah Denver technical
center staff and interviewed various MSHA staff at headquarters,the technical
centers, and selected district offices; union and trade association officials and
academic experts; and selectedfederal and state agency officials that
coordinate their work with MSHA (A list of the major organizations we
contacted appearsin enclosureII.) We conducted our review between
September 1996and March 1997in accordancewith generally accepted
government auditing standards.
In summary, mining industry union and trade group representatives,as well as
academic experts, expressedserious concernsthat M.SHA’sproposed relocation
could adversely affect the level and quality of servicesprovided to western
mines and their workers, particularly in the event of a time-critical mining
situation.2 In response,MSHAmodified its plan to addressthese concerns by
maintainiug in Denver the technical equipmentaud personnel necessaryto
respond to such emergencies. MSIIA believesthat certain planned hiring and
txahing actions will enable the agencyto maintain the level and quality of
technical services currently provided to western mines. Overall, we have little

?‘he relocation plan assumedthat any short-term costs would be recouped
witbin 3 years, but the scope of our work did not include analyzing this
         .
%SHA defines “tinte-crltical” situations or eventsas those in which people are
at risk and a responsefrom technical support staff is needed as soon as
possible to minimize that risk. Thesetime-critical events include situations in
which (1) miners are trapped or unaccountedfor and (2) rescue personnel are
being sent into an irrespirable atmospherewith the potential for encountering
explosive gases,residual ignition sources,or both. Accident4ield
investigations, on the other hand, require that technical support staff respond
expeditiously once notified by enforcementsta@but do not involve an
immedizte risk to miners or others.
2                                     GAO/HEHS-97-1OOB
                                                     MSHA Tech Center Belocation
B-275306
or no basis to believe that the revised relocauon plan will have a signifkant
adverse affect on MSHA’sability to protect the health and safety of western
miners.
Regarding MSHA’s cost estimates, our review raised issues about the agency’s
estimates (1) of savingsfrom the elimination of supervisory positions, (2) of
additional travel costs, and (3) for planned renovations at the lkiadelphia
facility. In response,MSHA revised its travel and labor cost estimates and
provided us additional information on its renovation plans.
BACKGROUND
MSHA maintains headquartersoffices in Arlington, Virginia; a tM.ning facility in
Becldey, West Virgin@ and more than 150field offices acrossthe country that
develop and enforce mining standards, conduct mine inspections to ensure
compliance with applicable laws, assesscivil penalties for violtions, investigate
a&dents, and respond to mine emergencies. SomeMSHA field offices monitor
coal mines, while others oversee the activities of mines that produce metals
(for example, gold, silver, and copper) and nonmetals such as salt, sand, and
gravel. Becauseof the concentration of coal mines in the Appalachian region
of the United States (see fig. l), MSHA enforcement offices overseeingcoal
mining operations are largely located in West V@inia, Kentucky, and several
other states east of the Missksippi River. MSHA enforcement offices that
monitor metal and nonmetal mines are not as localized because,even though
most metal mines are located west of the Mississippi River, nonmetal mines are
more widely dispersedthroughout the country (see fig. 2).




3                                    GAO/EEJZS-97-19OB
                                                     MSHA Tech Center Belocation
               E3-275306


               Future 1: Active U.S. Coal Mines, Fiscal Year 1995   _




                                                                                      0
                                                                                                       ,.I
                                                                                                     .>.’


f                                                                                          :-
    . ‘w----
                                0   NoCoalMines                                           :’
                                    l-49coalMlnes
                                    so-9scoalMnes
                                m   loo or MoreCd Mines

                                                                                                ..


               Note: Some of these mines may not have produced coal during this period.
               Source: Fiscal year 1996data, Mine Safety and HeaIth Administration.



               4                                     GAOIHEHS97.1OOBMSEATechCenterBelocation
B-275306
Figure 2: Maior U.S. Metal and Nomnetal Producing Areas. Julv 2996




                                                                                            :
                                                                                       ,’
                                                                                  :’




                                 H Metal Mines
                                 6~ Nonmetal Mines


Note: According to MSHA data as of July 1996,over 10,700metal aud
nonmetal mines were active in the United States. However, some of these ..
mines may not have produced minerals during this period.
Source: General Commoditv Summaries 1997,U.S. Geol0gica.lmy.           This
information is based on data collected from a survey of mineral information
teams staffed by commodity specialis& at the U.S. Geological Survey.



6                                   GAO/BEES-97.lOOItMSHA Tech Center Behcation
B-276306
MSHA’s Technical Sunnort Function
MSHA’s enforcement activities are supported by three technical centers located
in Denver, Colorado; Bruceton, Pennsylvania(a suburb of Pittsburgh); and
Triadelphia, West Virginia Thesecenters conduct MSHA’stechnical support
function, which includes planning and directing the orgzmization’sengineering
and scientific activities to solve technical mining problems and ensuring that
U.S. miners work in healthy environmentswith safe equipment. Historically,
the Denver Safety and Health TechnologyCenter (DTC) has supported MSHA!s
metal/nonmetal enforcement staff and the metal and nonmetal mining
community, while the Bruceton technical center has tended to concentrate its
activities on coal enforcement offices and the coal mining industxy.’
      The DTC
According to one of the DTC’spast managersand a former MSHA official who
helped to create the center, the DTC was created in responseto the passageof
the federal Metal and Nonmetallic Mine Safety Act in 1966to addressthe (1)
peculiarities of ore mined in metal and nonmetal mines and (2) special
problems associatedwith this type of mining-such as deep mine hoisting and
ventjlation.
Today, the DTC performs dust analysesfor all U.S. metal and nonmetal mines
and analyzes air samplesfor silica, asbestos,various gases,and other
contaminants. It assistsMSHAmetal/nonmetalenforcement staff, when
requested, during on-site investigationsto solwqmining problems, determine the
causes of mine accidents, and develop accident prevention measures. In
addition, the DTC advisesMSHA staff, mine operators, and union personnel
about accident prevention techniques;conducts explosivessafety activities; and
communicates scientific researchresults to enforcement staff aud the mining


31n1972,when the Department of Interior was responsible for admimstering the
Federal Coal Mine Health and SafetyAct of 1969and the Federal Metal and
Nonmetallic Mine Safety Act, it maintained a technical center in Denver
focused largely on metal and nonmetal issues. It also operated a Pittsburgh
center that primarily provided technical support on issues related to the coal
mining industry and a third center called the Health and Safety Analysis Center
that maintained mining data on the entire mining industry. The Department of
Labor assumedresponsibility for federal mining laws in 1977and since then
has been providing MSHA technical support servicesin essentially the same
way.
6                                   GAOEIEHS-97-100RMSHATechCenterBelacation
B275306’
industry. DTC staff also assessand monitor mine conditions during
emergenciesthat involve the rescue and recovery of trapped miners, write
investigation and researchieports, and serve as expert witnesses during
litigation.
At the end of fiscal year 1996,36 staff worked at the DTC in its Office of the
Center Chief and its six divisions: Toxic Materials (which includes the
Analytical Laboratory), Physical Agents,Vent&&ion, Geote&nieaJ/Ground
Support, Mine Wasteand Construction, and Industrial and Electrica3 Safety.’
Many of these staff had considerableseniority, with 27 having 16 or more years
of federal service (see enclosureHI). Jn fiscal years 1994through 1996,DTC
assistedwith 363 accident/field investigations; several t&ne-criticti mine events;
and other activities, such as writing responsesto and attending meetings with
mine operators, safety managers,union officials, MSHA attorneys, and
enforcement staff when engineeringexpertise was needed to resolve a problem.
MSHA currently rents spacefrom the General ServicesAmon                  (GSA) to
house the DTC at a cost of $336,703in fiscal year 1996.5
      The Bruceton Center
MSHA’s Bruceton technical center performs many of the same activities as the
DTC, primarily in support of the agency’scoal enforcement field offices, but is
the only center that conducts dust analysesfor all U.S. coal mines and
maintains the agency%instrument calibration facilities and specialized Mine
Emergency Operationsequipment. In fiscal year 1996,99 staff at the Bruceton
center performed managerialfunctions and mine-related activities similar to
those carried out by the DTC. The Bruceton center is located on a federal
compound in buildings formerly occupied by the Bureau of the Mines. Through
an interagency contract with National Institute of Occupational Safety and
Health, MSHA paid $663,710to operate this spacein fiscal year 1996.




aTheDTC was also the permanent duty station for two employeessupervised
by MSHA’s Bruceton technical center staff.
%I fiscal year 1996,GSA also billed MSHA $13,812for the DTC’s “joint use” of
parking, cafeteria, and other sharedspace at the Denver Federal Center. The
DTC occupied office and laboratory spacethere and at the Lakewood Plaza
Building during this period.
7                                    GAOEEES-97-1OORBfSHATech Center Relocation
B-275306
      The fbDrOVd and Certification Center
Unlike the other two technical centers, the Approval and CertEcation Center
(ACC) in Qiadelphia, WestVirginia, developstests and criteria for evaluating
the safety of electrical and mechanical mine equipment and related
components,instruments, and materials. It also approves these mining
products and explosivesfor use in underground and surface mines. ACC staff
inspect mine equipmentmanufactured in factories in over 41 states and
examine equipment parts being sold “off the shelf?to ensure that manufacturers
are producing products in accordancewith MSHA standards and specifications.
The ACC also assistsMSHA enforcement offices with investigations when
requested. In fiscal year 1996,72 staff performed ACC activities. This center is
located on a large complex in rnral West Viiginia, about 50 miles from MSIIA’s
Bruceton technical center and 60 miles from the Pittsburgh Airport. MSHA
owns all of the buildings and land within this g&acre complex.
MSHA1sRelocation Plan
According to its August 1996plan, MSHA intends to move 45 Denver technical
center positions to welphia, West Viiginia, by October 1997.6Most of these
staff wili be physically located at the ACC yet supervised by managers at the
Bruceton technical center. DTC managerswho choose to transfer w3.l work as
senior technicians in T‘riadelphiabut wilI retain their current salaries. MSIIA
plans to renovate a large open bay or warehousetype area at the ACC to create
office space and laboratory facilities for the Denver tranferees. In addition, the
plan also states that MSHA will guaranteeall staff transfer rights, pay
relocation costs, and provide job placement as&stanceto staff who choose not
to relocate.
MSHAhas been planning the reorganization of its technical support fun&on
since 1991. In fiscal year 1992,MSHA closed the operations of its former
technical center in Pittsburgh and moved those.resourcesto its Bruceton
technical center. MSHA officials said that the proposed relocation and
realignment of the DTC will allow technical support “to do more with less,”
ensurethat the highest priority work is performed, and maintain a viable
technical support function. These officials stated that moving DTC staff to
‘IYiadelphia,West Viiginia, will reduce the costs associatedwith maintaining
MSliWs technical support function, realize operational efficiencies, and improve


me 46 positions include staff currently on board as well as several vacant
positions.
8                                     GAO/HEHS-97-loORMSEA Tech Center Belocation
ES-276306
the overall quality of technical service provided to MSHA’sinspection staff and
industry customers. According to these officials, the relocation will accomplish
these goals by (1) eliminating technical support’s service and equipment
duplication, (2) making greater use of MS&owned spacein West Virginia, (3)
merging the smaller Denver unit into the larger Hruceton resource pool closer
to most of MSHA’s customers, and (4) streamlining operations by reducing
operating units and placing current Denver managersin technical staff
positions.
MSHA managementbelieves that the proposed relocation will more centrally
locate its technical support within the mining industry to allow the agencyto
focus the majority of its activities and resourceson gassycoal mines. These
mines release large amouuts of methane aud toxic gases,creating extremely
hazardous working environments for miners and, according to MSHA, the most
challenging technical problems for the agency. Like most coal mines, 46 of the
nation’s 52 extremeIy gassyunderground mines are located east of the
Mississippi River-mostly in West Virginia, Pennsylvania,Alabama, and lllino&?
The Retired Denver Mining RmnloveesAssociation
Contested MSHAk Relocation Plan
Ii-t an effort to get MSHA to reconsider its relocation proposal, a group of
former MSHA employeescalled the Retired Denver Mining Employees
Association organized a campaignthat involved informing elected
representatives, the local news media, and mining-related groups about the
proposed move of the DTC. As part of this effort, the associationissued a
detailed assessmentof MSHAk relocation plan The assessmentquestioned
whether any savings or operational efficiencies would result from the
relocation. According to the association, MSHA%relocation plan did not
present a factual or realistic justificatkon for relocating the DTC fYom either a
cost or a service staudpoint and understated the importance and role of



7nEktremelygassy”mines releasemore than 1 million cubic feet of methane in a
day. According to MSHAk most recent data, 6 other extremely gassy
underground mines are in Colorado and Utah, while 26 other mines in these
two states and in New Mexico, Wyoming, Louis&~, and Texas also release
highly explosive-yet lower-amounts of methane gas each &y. The Federal
Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977requires the Secretaryof Labor to conduct
at least one spot inspection every 15 working days at mines releasing more
than 200,000cubic feet of methane in a 24hou.r period.
9                                     GAO/EEES-97-1OOR
                                                     MSFSATechCenterRelocation
B-275306
technical support during mine eventsthat require a rapid response from
knowledgeable, experiencedpersonnel.
AFFECTED GROUPSRAISEDCONCERNS
ABOUT THE RELOCATION’SIMPACTON SERVICE

Mining labor unions, industry trade groups, MSHA’sDTC staff, and other
individuals generally believedthat the relocation, if implemented, could (1)
increase MSHA responsetjme to t%ne-criticalmine events or (2) erode the
quality and level of general technical assi&anceprovided to western mines.
MSHA headquartersof&ials believethat the relocation will not adversely affect
the agency’sresponsetime or the level and quality of technical assistance
currently provided to western mines, especiallynow that it has modified its
plan with respect to a gas aualysiscapability in the West
DTC Staff and Others RelievedOriginal
Relocation Plan Could Increase
ResnonseTime for Mine Emergenciesand
Accident/Field Investigations
Many of the DTC staff, a Colorado state mining official, and mine experts we
interviewed were concernedthat the relocation plan could lengthen the time it
currently takes to respond to thne-critical mine events for which technical
ass&tame is essential,jeopardizing the safety of miners and rescue workers.
Currently, DTC staff respond to mine eventsprimarily west of the MissiMppi
River and, according to MSHAheadquartersofficials, assisted in five such time-
crltieal mine eventsin i&al years 1994through 1996. The o@$tal relocation
plan would have resulted in the nearestagencytechnical resources being, in
most cases, 1,600miles farther from most western mines, adding in many cases
from 3 to 4 hours of travel time to and from the mine site.
A more serious problem noted by DTC staff was the logistical difficulty of
shipping certain sensitive equipmentand supplies, such as compressed gases,
required by technical staff during time-critical mine events8 Such equipment
and supplies cannot currently be transported on commercial airlines. DTC staff


%ompressed gasesare used to standardizeor adjust measuring instruments
and to operate equipment such as gas chromatographs,which identify chemical
mixtures by separatingthem into their components.Gas chromatographs are
often necessaryto monitor the toxicity or volatility of gaseswithin a mine
during an emergencysuch as a mine fire, explosion, or collapse.
10                                  GAO/EEHS-97-1OOR
                                                   MSHATechCenterBelocation
B-276306
generally use customizedvans to transport this type of equipment and supplies
to mining sites when it is required. Relying on van transport Tom West
Virginia could result in many hours of delay in reaching a time-critical mining
situation west of the MississippiRiver, seriously threatening MSHA~sability to
protect workers in such a situation.
MSHA Believes ResnonseTimes Wiu Not
Be Affected Under RevisedRelation Plan
MSHA headquartersofficials noted that enforcement staff-not technical support
staff-have Vrst response”responsibilities at any mine event. When mine
accidents or emergenciesoccur, mine operators contact their nearest
enforcement’office. Enforcement staff are the &st to arrive at the mine site to
(1) initially detexxninethe nature and extent of the situation and (2) decide
whether technical support’s a&stance is needed. The p&nary role of technical
support is to assistMSHA enforcementstaff by providing expert advice,
as&stance,and analysis. In most instances,such support is not thne critical,
which minimizes the problems raised by greater distance and travel times.
IvISHAhrelocation plan statesthat enforcement staff will be unaffected by the
proposed move; that is, current enforcement offices located in western states
and elsewhere will continue to operate.
MSHA headquartersofficials also pointed out that generally more mine
emergenciesoccur east of the MissMippi River than in the West and that the
DTC, on average,is requestedto respond to fewer time-critical mine events
than accident and field investigations. However, MSHA officials acknowledged
the potentially life-threatening difIieulties posed by maintaining all essential
technical equipment and suppliesin Triadelphia, West Virginia. To address the
problem of transporting such supplies and equipment on commercial air
carriers, MSHA stated on November27,1996, that it will mainta3n gas analysis
equipment and three technical support staff in Denver to assist with mine
emergencies. This unit will become a part of MSHA1sDenver metal/nonmetal
enforcement office, which is currently colocated with the DTC.
DTC Staff. Mining Grouns. and Others
ConcernedAbout PossibleErosion of Level and
Qualitv of Service

DTC and other MSHA staff, trade group offici&, and union representatives we
spoke with believed that the relocation plan would make technical support less
accessible
   .      and seriously erode the level of service and quahty of technical
ass&auce  currently provided to western mines. Some the individuals we spoke

11                                  GAOIEEEIS-97-1OOE
                                                    MSHA Tech Center Relocation
B-275306
with also said that this problem could become more serious over time as the
western mining industry continues to grow. Some of those we interviewed
believed that the erosion of technical assistancewill occur becausesuch
support-especially on-site support-will take longer to provide and be more
costly and heavily dependent on the agency’soverall travel resources.
Many individuals we interviewed believed that, given the greater distance from
WestVhginia to many western mining states and generally higher travel costs,
providing technical support to western mines will become increasingly
vulnerable to travel budget reductions. A mine expert in Pennsylvanias&d
that, at any time, agencybudgetary constraints could prohibit expensive,long-
distancetravel and, for this reason, a centralized technical support center may
not be the most advantageousarrangementfor MSHA. A January 1,1996,
memorandumfrom MSHA’sAss&ant Secretary illustrates the potential for
future travel budget reductions. In the memorandum, the Ass&ant Secretary
asked MSHAmanagersand supervisorsto help reduce travel costs because
MSHAwould be “facing tight budgets in the months and years ahead.” The
memorandumwent on to say that to savemoney, a kotienefit            approach’
should be used when deciding what trips to make. If agency travel funds
remain stagnant or decline as they have in the past, some staff said, the
proposed relocation could result in longer trips to the field and the additional
travel hours would probably increase overtime chargesfor the agency.
Concernswere also expressedabout the impact of the additional distance on
more routine technical support activities. For example, a Department of Labor
attorney who lit@a.tescasesfor MSHA said that technical support staffs’ failure
to get to the sceneof a mine accident Vight away’ could hurt MSH&s
credibility when staff have to present expert testimony at a trial.
Many we interviewed also believed that the demand for MSEMtechnical
ass&dancewill only increase as the western mining industry continues to
expand. The projected growth of the mining industry in many western states is
weI5documentedin the literature and will most likely occur in both coal and
metal mines west of the Mississippi River, especially in Wyoming and Nevada,
becauseof a continuing demand for gold and silver and an increasing demand
by easternutility companiesfor low-sulphur coal? Yet with the closure of the
Bureau of the Mines and the downsking of other minerelated federal agencies,
severalpeople we interviewed believed that the loss of the DTC will leave the


?EnergyInformation Admin&&&on, US. Coal Reserves: A Review and Undate,
DOEEIA-0629(Washington,D.C.: Department of Energy, Aug. 1995)and
Mining Enstineering: Annual Review 1995(May 1996).
12                                   GAO/HJ3EfS-97-1OOB
                                                     MSEIATech Center Beloc8tion
B-275306
growing western mining industry with few sources of readily accessible
technical expertise to rely on to help solve its mining probiems. For example,
an operator for a Wyoming nonmetal mining company said that technical
a&stance for the western mining industry would be almost nonexiStentif the
DTC relocated to West Yirgmia. The operator said that his company had
benefited greatly from DTC’s help with resolving severalmine design problems
and a mine crisis and that, if the DTC relocated, getting technical assi&ance in
the future would be much more costly for his company..
In addition, DTC staff and others we spoke with felt strongly that the quality of
technical expertise in metal/nonmetal issueswill decline if the DTC is
relocated. They cited a lack of expert&e at the Bruceton center in
metal/nonmetal mining issues and potential hiring difficulties there as reasons
for this likely decline. Becausethe Denver center has specializedsince 1971in
the unique problems of metal, nonmetal, and western coal mines, iudividuals
we interviewed were concerned that MS-IA’s technical support function could
lose its knowledge base and years of experiencein these skill areasif most
DTC staff decide not to transfer to West Viiginia For example, several DTC
staff and Department of Labor attorneys we interviewed said that relocating the
DTC wiu encourage MSHA’smost experiencedtechnical staff in metal/nonmetal
mining to retire or find jobs elsewhere,creating an agency shortagein certain
skill areas that MSHA would find difficult to address. According to agency
data, normal attrition and little hiring at the DTC have already depleted the
number of center staff {see enclosure IV), especially staff with expertise in
certain areas, such as radiation?o MSHA could begin to hire staff to replace
these and other employeeswho may leave before the proposed move is
actually implemented. However, some individuals we interviewed were
concerned that, while MSHA is in the process of hiring and training new staff
to Gil current and expected vacancies,shortagesof experiencedstaff could
have a great impact on the quality of servicesnow provided to MSHA
enforcement staff and the western mining community in the interim.
According to several DTC staff, MSHA also could suffer shortagesof
experienced and knowledgeable staff for a considerableperiod of time after the
proposed relocation becausethe agencycould have trouble hiring staff witi
met&/nonmetal mining experience who are willing to live in West Virginia and
perform most of their work in the West. .Most DTC staff contend that MS-IA


“Staff in this skill area conducted radiation/ventilation surveys and tested for
radon exposures in uranium, iron, limestone, and other underground mines,
among other activities.
13                                    GAOIHEHS-97-lOOItMSHATechCenterIZeIocation
B-275306
will need this ldnd of expertise becausethe technical expertise in Bruceton is
primarily in coal mining. Thus, staff with metal/nonmet%lexpertise would not
be available to provide the technical a&stance to enforcement and industry
staff responsible for metal and nonmetal mines.
MSHA Believes ServiceLevels and Qualitv Will He Maintained
MSHA officials contest the view that the quality and level of MSHAb technical
support service will decline significantly in the short run if the DTC is relocated
to West Viiginia. MSHA officials stated that they intend to rely on Bruceton
technical support staff to provide metal and nonmetal expertise and maintain
service quality and that the differencesin expertise between DTC and Bruceton.
have been overstated They noted that nearly 50 percent of metal/nonmetal
mines are located east of the MississippiRiver and that the Bruceton center
has always provided some met&nonmetal mining a&stance. They said that
any declines in the level of servicewill be short lived because they anticipate
few hiring problems and intend to hire quickly. They estimate 3 months as the
averagetime it will take to fill a mining engineerposition vacancy. MSHA
officials also believe they have a good pool of qualified applicants from which
to select applicants. To demonstratethis, they cited the 1,031applications
MSHA received in responseto 38 enforcementpositions advertised iu 1996.
These appEcantswere Tom professional organi.&ions, academia, and federal
agenciesthat have either dosed or are downsizing.
In addition, MSHA officials said the relocation of staff will allow MSHA’s
technical support managersto better prioritize their workload and service
delivery, thus improving servicein the long run. According to the Chief of the
Brueeton technical center, Bruceton staff have done more work in the West
over the last 2 to 3 years aud hsve gained some experience in metal and
nonmetal mining. He also said that certain types of technical support-such as
mine engineering, elect&i@, and venwon work-are the same whether the
mine is in the eastern or western part of the United States. If the DTC staff
relocate to Triadephia, he envisionedthat these staff will contiue their work
in the West for a while, but eventuallycoal and metal/nonmetal technical staff
 would be cross-trainedand their skills integrated. He believed that staff could
 be cross-trainedwithin a reasonableamount of time.
NET SHORT-TERMCOSTSOF ORIGINAL
RELOCATIONPLAN WERE UNDERESTIMATED
MSHAinitially estimatedthat the Iirst-year cost to close the DTC and transfer
staff to West Virginia would total approximately $1.76million. According to the

14                                    GAOIEEES-97.1OOR
                                                     MSEATechCenterBelocatio~~
R-275306
proposal, this cost would be partially offset by savings generated by reduced
supervisory salaries and rental costs. Our review of the proposal, however,
showed that MSHA could not realize any cost savings from the salaries of the
current DTC supervisorswho will assumestaff positions if the proposed
relocation takes place. In addition, we believe that MSHA underestimated the
increased travel costs that would be necessitated by the relocation and did not
sufficiently account for the required construction costs. Qn December 17,1996,
MSHA revised its cost e&mate to $1.86million in response to questions we
raised about its initial estimate.
Kev Comuonentsof MSHA’sOriginal Cost Estimate
Included Emnlovee Relocation and Construction Costs

MSHA estimated that the relocation of the DTC would cost approximately $1.75
million. The estimate included the following key expenses:
- $550,000for real estateand moving allowances for an estimated 11 DTC staff
  at about $50,000per person,‘l
- $32,000for travel costsin addition to DTCs current travel budget, and

- $500,000for the construction of a second floor in ACC building #I2to
  accommodateoffices and laboratories for transferred staff-l2
The agencyexpected to save
- $233,000in rent to housethe 36 DTC staff on board as of August 199513and

- from $470,000to $746,000in salaries and benefits by elWin&ing the positions
  of DTC supervisors.



%M3A acknowledgedthat these costs could increase further if more than 11
DTC staff decided to transfer.
?he ACC complex consistsof five major buildings contaimng offices,
laboratories, and test fMl.ities. Two storage trailers are also on the property.
%fSIA basedits rent savingson the cost of smaller space to accommodate the
Denver staff and not on the fiscal year 1995lease cost of $323,000for its
current space,which is too large for only 36 staff.
15                                   GAOIEIEHS-97-1OOB
                                                     MSHATechCeaterl%ebcation
B-275306
MSHA did not include any severancepayments to current DTC employees,nor
did it include any hiring or training costs of new employeesin its estimate.
According to MSHA officials, these costs would not affect the proposed
relocation because(1) staff would be transferred and not involuntari.ly
separatedfrom their jobs and (2) MSHA has already budgeted for staff training
and hiring costs in its fiscal year 1997budget.
No Short-Term SavingsWould Result From
the Ehminauon of Sunervisorv PO&ions
MSHA stated in its August 1995realignment plan that elic&&kg eight
supervisorypositions at grade levels 13 through 15 would savefrom $470,000to
$746,000aunually. Officials based the higher figure on the mid-range of the pay
scale for the Denver geographic area and included 36 percent for employee
benefits However, we found that only four supervisorswere employed by DTC
and that MSHA had promfsed these staff that they would retain their current
salariesif they moved to West Vii       and assumedtiont-line staff positions.
On the basis of this infolrmation, we concluded that MSHA would not real&e
any short-term savingsfrom eliminating DTC supervisory technical support
positions. MSHA concurred with our finding.
MSHAUnderestimatedAdditional Travel Costs
To arrive at its additional travel cost e&mate of $32,000,MSHA assumedthat
technical support staff would make about 80 trips in fiscal year 1996to the
West after the relocation. Yet in its relocation plan, MSHA stated that the DTC
performed more than 100investigations each year in the West in fiscal year
1996. If MSHA intended to maMain the same level of service in the West, we
determined that these investigations could account for additional travel
expenses(that is, aidare and additional per diem costs) if DTC staff move to
WestVirginia MSHA officials explained that the $32,000was an estimate based
on travel activity during fiscal years 1990through 1993at an averageper diem
cost of $400. On the basis of our analysis, MSHA increasedits estimate of
 additional travel costs by 31 percent to $42,000.
MSHA Provided Additional Exnlanation for
Construction CostsReauired bv the Relocation

When we examinedthe September 1996floor plans for the renovations that
MSHAhas proposed making at its Tkiadelphia, West Virginia, facility, we were
concernedbecausewe did not see evidence of any office or laboratory space
allocated for DTC staff as stated in MSHA’s relation plan. According to the

16                                   GAOBIEHS-97-1OOR
                                                    MSHA Tech Center Relocation
B-275306
plan and MSHA officials, the agencywould contract for the construction of a
second floor in a portion of building ##2at the ACC to accommodate
transferrjng DTC staff, any new hires that might be needed, and the technical
activities that they all would perform. Planning and constructiug such space
could result in siguificant additional costs for MSHA The only renovations
shown iu the floor plans we examined were for the creation of conference
rooms and storage areasand the ins&U&ion of elevators and shower facilities.

MSHA officials explained that offices and laboratories were not indicated on
the floor plans becauseagencymanagementhad agreedto nego&te the
configuration  of this spacewith the National Council of Field Labor Locals
(NCFLi+the union that represents ah MSHA employeesthroughout the
country. In our subsequentdiscussionswith MSHA officials, they said that no
additional costs would be involved to prepare the spacein building #2 for
offices, MSBA owns its own office partitions, and the cost of the labor needed
to erect these partitions is included in the service contract with a company that
currently provides maintenanceservicesat the ACC. In addition, MSHA
officials stated that the laboratories will probably be established in a different
ACC building (building #l) where a laboratory and the proper venljlation and
plumbing for laboratories already exist.
Revised Estimate of $1.86Million Includes
Emnlovee Relocation Bonuses
 On December 17,1996,MSHA presented a revised relocation cost estimate that
included the estimatedcost of a relocation bonus totaling $?S,OOO.    The
 document stated that the bonus was being negotiated with the NCFLL and was
the maximum amount that MSBA would pay out for this purpose. If fewer
 employees decided to transfer to West Virginia, MSHA*scosts could be less. In
its revised cost es&ate, MSHA also increasedits estimated additional tras@l
 costs by $10,000and included the cost of an expanded telephone system at the
ACC totaling $40,000. These cost increaseswere partially offset by decreases
in the revised relocation budget estimate. For example, by mid-December 1996,
MSHA had accepteda bid on the coustruction work planned for the ACC and,
therefore, included in its revised relocation estimate.the actual contract price of
 $446,000instead of the $500,000estimate shown in its original relocation plan.
Also, the original plan stated that the agencywould spend an estimated
$100,000in additional faciliw operathg costs per year as a result of the move.
However, MSEIAincluded only $8,333(one twelfth of $100,000)in its revised
relocation estimate for facility operating costs because,according to MSHA
officials, DTC employeeswould not be expected to move to the ACC until the
last month of fiscal year 1997. The Director of Technical Support assumesthat

17                                   GAO/HJ3HS-97-1oOR
                                                     MSHA Tech Center Ilelocation
B275306
the agencywill spendthe originally estimated $100,000in additional facility
operating costs during fiscal year 1998. The net effect of these revisions was to
increase MSHA’stotal estimated expenditures for the relocation over fiscal
years 1996and 1997to $1.86million.
CONCLUSION
We believe the revision to MSHA’srelocation plan that rk.i.ntains gas analysis
equipment and staff in Denver adequatelyaddressesthe concern about MSHA’s
ability to protect the safety and health of miners in the West by responding to
time-critic~ eventspromptly. MSEIAbelieves the overall level and quality of
technical support wiu be maintained by cross-training existing staff and quickly
hiring new staff. We agree.that it is reasonable to believe that these actions
will largely offset any technical support capacity temporarily lost. Although
technical support serviceswill not be as geographically accessibleto
enforcement staff and others involved with western mines as they have been in
the past, we have little or no basis to believe that the revised relocation plan
will have a significant adverseeffect on MSHA’sability to protect the safety
and health of western miners.
AGENCYCOMMENTS
MSHA agreed with our findings and overall conclusion. In its written
comments,the agencystressedits commitment to assisting miners nationwide
who find themselvesin life-threatening mine-related situations and minimMng
the effect of the relocation on the affected MSHA employees. See enclosure V
for the full text of MSHA’s comments.


As arranged with your offices, unless you publicly announce its contents
earlier, we plan no further distribution of this letter for 30 days. At that time,
we will send copies to other congressionalcommittees, the Secretary of Labor,
and the AssMant and Deputy A&&ant Secretariesof MSHk We will also
provide copies to others on request. If you have any questions, please feel free




18                                    GAOIEEES-97-1OOlZ
                                                     MSHA Tech Center relocation
B-276306
to contact me at (202) 612-7014.Contributors to this correspondence include
Charles k Jeszeck,Assistant Director Karen A Whiten, Evaluator-in-Charge;
and Veronica Scott, Senior Evaluator.




Carlotta C. Joyner
Director, Education and
 Employment Issues

Enclosures - 5




19                                GAOIHEFIS-97-1OOB
                                                  MSEATech CesterBelocation
ENCLOSURE1                                                                                     ENcIJosuREr
                  MSHARESPONSESTOW'ESTIT)NSFROMTHE
              COLORADOCONGRESSIONALDELEGATIONCONCERNING
                  THEREA.LJGNMENTOFTECHNICALSTJPPORT
On December 18,1996,the requesters asked several clarifying questions concerniug the
Mine Safety and Health Administration’s @ETA) proposed relocation of its Denver Safety
and Heala Technology Center (DTC). We were asked to collect additional info-on
from MSHA to answer these questions. The questions and MSHA’sresponsesare
reprinted in this enclosure. We did not independently review or..evaluatethe information
MSHA provided. We provided MSHA’s responsesto the requesters on December30,1996.


        I. list the number of field/accident invesl’gations that the Denver Safeiy and
        Heaith Technology Center responded to each year in fiscal years-f992-96.

        The role of Technical      Support in MSHA. is to provide expert assistance to
        MSHA’s front-line enforcement         staff. The Technical     Support centers do not
        initiate either field or accident investigations       independently.   Field
        investigations     involve travel to the mine site. Accident investigations     are
        included as field investigations      when a field visit is required.   In some instances,
        Technical Support’s involvement          in an accident investigation   may not include a
        field visit., as their role may be limited to laboratory      analyses, for example.

        In the case of accident investigations,           mine operators contact their nearest
        field or district enforcement         office (of which there are more than 150 located in
        the mining communities          throughout    the country) when an accident or fatality
        occurs. Enforcement staff are the first to arrive at the mine site and make an
        initial determination      of the nature and extent of the accident         If necessary, the
        enforcement      staff will request Technical Support’s         assistance    in conducting its
         investigation   ofthe cause ofthe accident            As noted in MSHA’s earlier reportto
         Congress, in the period bebveen January I,1995               and July 24,i996,      MSHA’s
         enforcement     staff reque&ed        the assistance   of Technical   Support in 31 percent
         of the 146 fatal accidents that occurred.

         Field investigations    too are conducted    at the request of the enforcement    staff.
         Some of the field investigation     services   performed   by Technical  Support staff
         include conducting      studies of the movement of the ground, performing       noise or
         dust control surveys, evaluating      equipment and materials used in a mine,                    ..
         analyzing miners’ exposure to harmful materials,         and evaluating  mine
         ventilation,   roof control and impoundment       plans.




20                                                         GAOIEEHS-97-19ORIVISEATech Center Itelocation
ENCLOSUREI                                                                                       ENCLOSTJREI


         The total number of field and accident investigations     conducted      by MSHA’S
         Denver Safety and Health Technology      Center (OSHTC), Pittsburgh          Safety and
         Health Technology    Center (PSHTC) and the Approval and Certification            Center
         (A&CC) in fiscal years 1992-96 is as follows:
                      Year               Denver         Pittsburah            A&CC
                      FY 1992            239            129                   2     .
                      N 1993             184            137                    7.
                      FY 1994            145            135                  .-I1
                      N 1995             138            190                    14
                       FY 1996           85             155                    78



         The number of field investigations  tionduoted in fiscal year 1996 were affected
         by the furloughs in November and December-January         and travel restrictions
         imposed because of the uncertainty     of MSHA% fiscal year 1996 budget that was
         not resolved until April 26,1996. Nationally, neither the furloughs nor the travel
         restrictions  infringed on MSHA’s responses to “time-critical”     events. Whenever
         and wherever a mine emergency occurs and miners’ lives are endangered,
         MSHA mobifizes the entire Agency and uses all available means to ensuie that
         staff and equipment arrive at the mine site prompt&.             .


         2. The Denver technical center provided the GAO a list ofmine emergencies
         and o#erincidentS   #ai required a linecrifical    response from Denver technical
         suppOrt sWF(see aftachment). confinn that each incident listed repesa&s        a
         time+zii&af reqwnse &y the Denver center and expkin why it was time crWcaf
         or why you do not consider it to be a time+criticai incident Also, w&km (9) the
         name of the mine, (2) when MSffA enfuroement StafTrequested the Uenvef
         center% assistance, and (3) the dafe and time DenversManived        af the mine
         site- lndi’te  whether each incident required tie use ofgas analysis statT
     _   and/or equipment

         The primary roie of MSHA Technical Support staff is to assist the Agency’s
         enforcement       staff by providing expert advice, assistance and analysis.                    \
         Technical      Support does p& have “first response” responsibilities           for safety tind
         health problems at mines or during emergencies;               this is the responsibility     of
         MSHA’s enforcement          staff located in more than 150 offices throughout            the
         mining regions of the United States. Likewise, Technical Support has no
         responsibility     for securing or preserving an accident scene. This task is
         performed by on-site inspectors who have the legal authori@ to do so. MSHA’S
         enforcement       staff also has lead responsibility   for conducting      accident
         investigations.      The role of Technical Support is to assist this front-line
         enforcement       staff in carrying out their responsibiiities      upon the request of
         MSHA‘s 17 district managers in the field.




21                                                          GAO/EiEH8-97-1OOElK!?tHATech Center Eelocstion
                                                                               -.
ENCLOSUREI                                                                                ENcLosuREI

      Following is a case-by-case analysis of 35 of the 36 events fisted in the
      attachment which the Denver Safety and Health Technology       Center identified
      for GAO as mine emergencies    and other incidents that required a Yfme-oritical
      response” during the period of FY ‘94 through N 96. One of the responses
      cited by DSHTC ( the October 23,1993 event at the Barrick Mine) was listed in
      error.

      Our analysis, based on a review of Agency records, concludes that 5 of tfte
      responses were timecritical        in nature. me 5 time-critical      eve&     occurred at
      the Lfoyd Logging (No. 16), Solvay (No. ZQ), Bowie (No. 30), Shosone (No.31),
      and Deserado (No. 33) operations.         At the time MSHA was notified of the
      landslide that occurred at the Lloyd Logging quarry, the exact number of
      persons involved in the incident and their status was in question.             Consequently,
      the assistance of DSHTC, at that point, was considered           critical.    However, while
       DSHTC personnel were en route, the number of victims was verified.                As you will
       note, the DSHTC staff arrived seven hours after notification.             When a time
       critical event occurs, it is MSHA’s practice, nationally, to mobilize the entire
       Agency and use all available means to ensure that staff and equipment arrive at
       the mine site promptly.    In this particular   instance, for example, if the
       realignment   was in place and commercial ffight schedules would have impeded
      the prompt arrival of Technical Support staff at the mine site from the Pittsburgh
      airport, we have the authority, and have used that authority, to charter aircraft

      As these accidents illustrate, “tfme-critical”     events are those in which persons
      are at risk and the response from Technicat Support is needed as soon as
      possible to minimize that risk. That is, more specifically,     those situations in
      tich     miners were trapped or unaccounted for, or, any situation in which mine
      rescue personnel were being sent into an imespirable         atmosphere    with ihe
      potential for encountering       explosive gases andlor the potential for encountering
      residual ignition souroes. These situations would require the deployment            of
      Mine Emergency Operations (MEO) personnel or equipment                ME0 equipment
       includes the following:      Seismic Location System, Mini-Seismic    Location
       System, N Probe System, Ventilation Vans, and Gas Analysis Van located in
       Piiburgh,     Pennsylvania     and Transportable   Infared, detectors and auxiliary
       equipment,     Transportable     Gas Analysis equipment located in Denver,            ‘!              ,
       Coforado.

      Many of the events cited by the OSHTC did not involve ongoing risk to persons
      when technical     assistance was requested. For example, 17 of the incidents
      involved fatal accident investigations.   Accident investigations      are an important
      part of MSHA’s work, but are after-the-fact    in nature. The investigations     are
      conducted in a deliberate,    methodical manner requiring a timely, but not “time-
      critical”  response by our Technical Support staff. In addition, 9 of the
      responses cited by OSHTC were events in which no injury occurted;            and in
      another, there was a nonfatal injury. Again, these events are an important part
       of MSHA’s work. However, the task at hand is determining         the cause of an
       unexpected    event, under circumstances   when no miners are at risk. The
       priority consideration   when rendering technical   assistance    in these cases is
       sending the person(s) with the requisite skills and knowledge.


 22                                                      GAO/BEHs-97-109BMSHA Tech Center              Beloc8ti~
                                                                                         ENCLOSURE 1
ENcLosmE I


      In response to GAO’s inquiry, DSHTC indicated that assistance               with ongoing
      accident investigations      and requests for technical     assistance    were included on
      their list of “time-critical  response9     for reasons such as (1) the district
      manager requested a rapid response; (2) it was perceived              as important to
      secure or preserve the accident scene, however, as previously               mentioned, this
      is the role offhe enforcement       stz@ and (3) it was perceived       as important to
      complete the accident investigation         quickly so that the accident-scene      could be
      returned to normal production.         While there is an understandsble        sense of
      urgency to requests for the DSHTC’s assistance,            their response was not Wime-
       critical” in terms of MSHA’s mission - protecting        miners’ safety and health.

      ResDonse    No. ?    Mine Name: Kemmerer        Mine, Kemmerer,      Wyoming

             Nesaonse Information;
             Event Date: lOIl2193; 350 a.m.
             Request Date: iOM2193; p.m.
             Investigation began113193; 8:00 a.m.

             TV- of occurrence:   fatal powered haulage accident at a surface coal
             mine. This incident was not a time-critical response and there was no
             need for ME0 staff or equipment at this she;

             Whv this is NOT Tfme-Critioal;      This was a powered haulage accident
             which occurred in the earfy morning of October 12,f993,         fatally injuring
             one miner. The injured miner’s body was removed by the local fire
             department     and MSHA inspectors      were on site and secured the accident
             scene. Technical      Support was requested to assist in the accident
             investigation,    but was not involved in any rescue or recovery operations.
             At the time the DSHTO was notified there were no addffonaf          miners in
             danger nor were there any on-gdng activities that required OSHTO staff
             as&stance to ensure the safety of people at the accident site. with the
             accident site secured, the Technical       Support involvement   could have
             come from any of the Technical        Support Centers with no impact pn the,
             qriality or timelinkss of the MSHA mission.


      Resuonse    No. 2    Mine Name: Newmont        Gold Mine, Oarfin,    Nevada

             ResDonse Information:
             Event Date: 10-3
             Request Date: 101241933 p.m.
           . Arrive Mine: 10/2%3;  12~00 noon

             Tyne of Occurrence:  fatal powered haulage accident       at gold company’s
             surface processing  mill. This incident was not a time-critical    response
             and there was no need for ME0 staff or equipment     at this site.




 23                                                     GAO/EEES-97-1O9BMSEA Tech Center 3ebcatiOn
ENCLOSUREI                                                                           ENCLOSUREI


             Whv this is NOT Time-Critical:   This was a powered haulage accident that
             occurred on October 22,1993,      at about 2~20 p.m. fatally injuring one
             miner and seriously injuring another when a conveyor support failed
             causing the miners to fall. A miner at the site freed the injured miners and
             the injured miners were transported      to,the hospital at 2~26 p.m. DSHTC
             was requested to provide assistance       in the accident investigation in the
             afternoon of October 24,1993.      At the time of the request to the DSHTC;
             there were no other miners at risk and there were no activities at the site
              requiring assistance to protect people. The accident site was secured
              the day of the accident by MSHA inspector Ronald W. Barri from Boulder
              City, NV.



       Resnonse   No. 3   Mine Name: Kosmos        Cemenf    Kosmosdale,    Kentucky

             pesDonse Information:
             Event Date: 01127194
             Request Date: 02101194; 9:30 a.m.
             Arrive Louisville, KY Hotel 02101194; 11:30 p.m.

             Tvoe of Occurrence:      Fatal machinery   accident   at k cement   mill. This
             incident was not a time-critical response and there was no need for ME0
             staff or equipment    at this site.

             Whv this is NOT Time-Critical:     This incident was an accident where
             several miners were injured, one fatally, when a raised work d&k tilted
             and the miners fell approximately      49 feet. The accident occurred at
             approximately    9:00 p.m. on January 27,1994.       The DSHTC was requested
             to assist in the accident investigation     several days aRer the accident.   At         ./’
             the time of the request, there were no miners at risk and the accident
             scene was secured by Supervisory         MSHA Inspector LR. Nichols and
              MSHA Inspector C.E. McDaniel.        No activities were on going that required     :
              DSHTC assistance to ensure the safety of people at the site. Had the              ,:’
              situation at the mine site been such that technioal assistance was urgent,
              the enforcement    personnel would not have waited to request assistance.




24                                                 GAO/EEJZS-97-1OOE
                                                                  MSHA Tech Center Rehcation
ENCLOSUREI                                                                               ENCLOSUREI



     Resnonse    No. 4    Mine Name: Star Point No. 2 Mine, Cyprus        Plateau   Mining   Co.,
                          Price, Utah

             Resoonse Information:
             Event Date: 02/l 5194
             Request Date: 02/21/94; I:30 p.m.
             Depart DSHTC: O-4;         7~00 a.m.
             Arrive Price, UT: 02/22!94; 5:00 p.m.
             Arrive Mine: 02123194 7~00 a.m.

             Tvue of Occurrence:  Fatal machinery accident at an underground    coal
             mine. This incident was not a time-oriti cal response and there was no
             need for ME0 staff or equipment at this site.

             Whv this is NOTTime-Criticaf;      This was a fatal accident     investigation
             where the OSHTC request and response for assistance             was several days
             after the fatal accident occurred.     In addition, both the PSHTC and ihe
             A&CC were involved in this investigation        at the same time due to the
             occurrence     of several similar accidents on the same equipment.            The
             accident scene was secured by MSHA enforcement             personnel      and no
             assistance was required that was urgent or necessary           to protect people
             at the site.


     Resoonse     No. 5   Mine Name: Brisbane      Quarry,   Brisbane,   CA

             Resaonse Information:
             Event Date: 03/04/94; II:40 a.m.
             Request Date: 03/08/94; 3 0:OO a.m.
             Depart DSHTC:      03109194; 6:07 a.m.
             Arrive Mine: 03109194; I:05 p.m
         .                                                                                       I


             Tvos of Occurrence:   Fatal haul truck accident at a surface nonmetal                   ’
             mine. This was not a time-critical   response and there was no need for
             ME0 staff or equipment at this site.

             Whv this is NOT Time-Critical:      The accident occurred       on March 4,1994,
             and the DSHTC was requested for assistance            in the investigation    on
             March 8,1994. The accident occurred when a truck went through a berm
             and over an embankment          On March 4, MSHA inspector          Jerry Millard
             from the Reno, NV MSHA Of&e was on site and protected                  and secured
             the accident site by prohibiting     the use ofthe haul road pending
             completion   of the MSHA accident investigation.          There were no activities
             that required the time-critical    assistance   of the DSHTC. MSHA




25                                                     GAOfHEFM67-1OOR        MSHA Tech Center Relocation
ENCLOSU?ZE
         I                                                                              ENCLOSUREI


             enforcement   personnel were on site and no one was exposed to any
             ham&     that would be mitigated by DSHTC personnel.

     Resuonse    No. 6    Mine Name: Barrick     Goldstrike   Mine, Elko, NV

             Resnonse Information;
             Event Date: 0415194; 8:30 p.m.
             Request Date: 04/16/g+ 7~00 p.m.
             Departed Denvet: 0417194; 7:00 a.m.
             Arrived Motel: 0417196; 1200 noon, meet with inspector         then traveled   to
             the mine.

             Dyne of Occurrence;      Building fire at a refinery of a surface metal mine.
             This was not a time-critical     response and there was no need ME0 staff or
             equipment at this site.

             VVhv this is NOT Time-Criticah      This was a surface building fire in which a
             fire fighter was fatally injured while fighting the fire. YSHA inspectors
             were on site and took steps to preserve the accident site until the
             investigation    was completed.     Technical    Support was requested to assist
             in the investigation   by determining    ifthe ignition source was electrical.
             The DSHTC personnel were at the mine several days after the fire. At the
             time the DSHTC was requested to assist in the investigation,         no other
              miners were at risk and no activities       were underway   atthe mine site that
              required assistance to ensure the safety of people at the site.

     Resnonse     No. 7    Mine Name: Black Mesa Mine, Kayenta,         Navajo County, AZ

             Resnonse Information:
             Event Date: 06114194; 231 p.m.
             Request Date: 06/l 5194; 6~00 a.m.
         l   Arrive Mine: 06/16/9q 215 a.m.

             TvDe of Occurrence: Non-injury field fire. This was not a time-critical  “:
             response and there was no need for ME0 staff or equipment at this site.’

             Whv this is NOTXme-Critical:      At 231 p.m. on June 14,1994, a Tire ball”
             was created by blasting coal at a surface mine that ignited brush in an
             abandoned field near the mine. There were no injuries and the fire was              ..
             extinguished   in 1 hour and 15 minutes using a water truck, a fire truck
             and fire extinguishers.    There were no personal injuries or property
             damage. Technical       Support provided technical   assistance to determine if
             the blasting practices at the mine contributed     to the development   of the
             fire.




26                                                     GAOBEES47400E MSEA Tech Center Eelocation
ENCLOSUREI                                                                            ENcLosuREI



      ResDonse    No. 8    Mine Name: Fletcher     Mine and Mill, Doe Run Co., Reynolds
                           County, Missouri

             Resnonse Information:
             Event Date: 06/27/94
             Request Date: 06128194; 9:30 a.m.
             Arrive Mine: 06129194; ZOO a.m.

             Tvne of Occurrence:   Fatal powered haulage accident at an underground
             metal mine. This was not a time-critical response and there was no need
             for ME0 staff or equipment at this site.

             Whv this is NOT Time-Critioai:      This was an accident investigation    of a
             fatal powered haulage accident. The accident occurred on June 27 and
             assistance was requested from the DSHTC on June 28. DSHTC
             personnel’went      to the mine site on June 29,1994, to assist in the
             investigation.     MSHA enforcement      personnel on site included a mining
             engineer from the District Office in Dallas, TX and an inspector from the
             Rdla, MO OfRce. There were no miners at risk and the accident scene
             was secured by the inspection       staff, Following the visit by the DSHTC
             personnel and the failure to determine the cause of the accident,
             equipment specialists from the A&CC were requested to investigate the
             accident.      The cause ofthe accident was determined       and enforcement
             actions taken at this mine and others to ensure that the same incident did
             not happen in the future.

      Response    No. 9    Mine Name: Homestake       Mine, Lead, South Dakota

            &monse     Information:
            Event Date: 7125i94
            Request Date: 7/25/94; a.m.
          . Depart DStcTc: 7125194; II:00 a.m.
            Arrival Time: 4~50 p.m. Motel, Lead, SD; meet with inspector,        arrive &
            mine 73% p.m.

             me    of Occurrence:     Cracked gears were discovered     by an inspection    of
             the man hoist The DSHTC was requested to evaluate the impact of the
             cracked gear on the safe operation prior to returning it to service. This
             was a technical   assistance    request and was not a time-critical  response.
             There was no need for ME0 staff or equipment at this site.

             Whv this is NOT Time-Critical: The hoist was shut down and no miners
             were at risk. MSHA enforcement     personnel were involved in this incident
             and took steps to ensure the safety of the miners at the mine.




27                                                 GAO/HEES-97-1OOB
                                                                  MSEA Tech Center Relcntstion
ENCLOSURE1                                                                           ENCLOSUREI




       Resnonse   No. 10   Mine Name: Bullfrog     Mine, Beat@, NV

             J? aonse Information:
             EZt    *ate: lZ69rS4; 230 am.
             Request Date: 12112l94; 7~30 a.m.
             Arrive Mine: 12/1319* 6~00 a.m.

             Tvne of Occurrence:     fatal   haul truck accident at a surface metal mine.
             This was not a time-critical     response and there was no need for ME0 staff
             or equipment at this site.

             Whv this is NOT ~me-Critic&     The accident occurred on December 9,
             1994, and DSHTC was requested to assist in the investigation     on
             December 12,1994.      There were no miners at risk and MSHA prohibited
             the use of the roadway, equipment or facilities in the area until the
             investigation was completed to secure the accident scene.


       Resnonse   No. 11    Mine Name: Homestake         Mine - Lead, South Dakota

              Resbonse Information:
              Event Da& January 51995
              Request Date: 115195; 9~00 a.m.
              Arrive mine: l/5/96; 1O:OO p.m.

              Tvbe of Occurrence:   High wall failure     in an open pit gold mine resulting in
              a fatality. This was not a time-critical    response and there was no need for
              ME0 stafF or equipment.

               Whv this is NOT Time-Critical;     This was an accident investigation.   The
               accident occurred at about 1:50 a.m. January 54995, and the DSHTC
             . personnel departed at 200 p.m. on the same day. The miner was :
               recovered     at 11:30 a.m. on January 5,1995, before the OSHTC personnel
               departed Denver. WHA enforcement            personnel on site secured the
               accident scene. The role of the OSHTC personnel was to assist in the
               investigation    of the cause of the accident and not the recover of the
               miner. There were no activities that put people at risk and required the           ..
                DSHTC personnel to be on site.




                                                    GAO/BEHS-97499B BESEATech Center Belocation
ENcLosmE I                                                                            ENCLOSUREI




      ResDonse No. 12 Mine Name: Swanson           Coal Mine, Cougar      Coal Co., Rock
                      Springs, Wyoming

              ResDonse Information;
              Event Date: 01120195
              Request Date: Olf22l95; p.m.
              Arrive Mine: 01/23!95; 230 p.m.

              Tvoe of Occurrence:   Nonfatal machinery accident. This was not a time-
              critical response and there was no need for ME0 staff or equipment at
              this site.

              Whv this is NOlTime-Critical:  This was a nonfatal accident.  The OSHTC
              was requested to assist MSHA enforcement    personnel in the investigation
              of the cause of the accident. No miners were at risk and enforcement
              personnel were on site.


      Reseonse    No. 13   Mine Name: Jim Walters     No. 5, Brookwcod,     AL

              ResDonse Information:
              Event Qate: 02115195; 300 p.m.
              Request Date: OUlsrSS; 9:30 a.m.
              Arrive Mine: 02/l 7395; IO:30 a.m.

              Tvne of occurrence:    Technical   assistance at a shaft sinking operation.
              This was not a time-critical   response and there was no need for ME0 staff
              or equipment.

              Whv this is NOT Time-Critical:   On February 151995,     the work platform      ’
              ata shaft-sinking operation began to spin and miners were unable to
          l   leave the work platform until the spinning stopped.    Local MSHA
              inspectors went to the mine site and began an investigation.     The site was
              secured and there were no injuries, but the miners did get sick from the
              spinning.   The DSHTC was requested to assist with the investigation.               .-
              There were no activities that put miners at risk during the investigation.




29                                                 GAO/EEZS-97.1OOEMSHATechCenterI&kation
ENCLOSUREI                                                                                 ENcL40suRE1




      Resnonse       No. 14    Mine Name: Bar-rick Goldstrike    Mine, Carlin,   NV

                 Resoonse Information;
                 Event Date: 04104/35; 6~46 p.m.
                 Request Date: 04/05/95; 5% p.m.
                 Arrive Mine: 04/06195; 490 p.m.

                 Tvoe of Occurrence:     fatal haul truck fire at a surface metal mine. This
                 was not a time-critical   response and there was no need for ME0 staff or
                 equipment at this site.

                 Whv this is NOTTime-Criticak
                 The DSI-KC was requested to assist in the accident investigation.   This
                 was a machine fire on the surface and the fire was extinguished   before
                 the assistance was requested.   The accident site and equipment    involved
                 were secured by MSHA enforcement     personnel on site and there were no
                 people at risk.


       Resnonse       No. 15   Mine Name: Cresson     Pi    Pikes Peak Mining    Co., Victor,   CO

                 Resoonse information:
                 Event Date: 4H1195; I:23 p.m.
                 Request Date: 4112195; 3~00 p.m.
                 Arrive Mine: 4/13/95; 16:OO a.m.

                 ryoe of Occurrence:   Technical assistance to determine the cause of a
                 premature explosives detonation in an open pit gold mine. This was not a
                 time-critical response and there was no need for ME0 staff or equipment             ;’
                 at this site.
             .
                 Whv this is NOTlime-Criticak    This incident was a premature detonation
                 of explosives. There was no accident nor were miners at risk. This
                 response was a routine technical assistance request to evaluate a                        ..
                 situation at a mine site.




 30                                                        GAO/BEHs-97-199BM!SHATed Center Bebcation
ENCLOSUREI                                                                           ENcL0smE1




       Response   No- 16   Mine Name: Lloyd togging,        Inc., Wenatchee,    WA

              R oonse Information:
              Et&t Date: 5119195        .
              Request Date: S/l 9195; 4:OO p.m.
              Arrive Mine: 5/19/95; +I:00 p.m.

              Tvoe of Occurrence:      landslide    with emergency recovery of two people.
              This was a time-critical     response; however, there was no need for ME0
              staff or equipment    at this site.

              Whv this is Time-Critical:   A massive landslide occurred at a gravel quarry
              that killed two people, including a S-year old child. MSHA inspection   staff
              immediately    S8CUr8d the ar8a and began rescue and recovery efforts.
              The OSHTC was requested to assess the stability of a nearby highwall.
              and assist in the accident investigation.

              Th8 requested    aSSiStanC8 for an evaluation of th8 highwall was time-
              sensitive in that a collapse of the highwall could have endangered    rescue
              workers.    Under the circumstances,    however, on-site personnel used
              their experience and judgement and responded to the situation at hand.
              In this case, reScue and recovery efforts proceeded without delay and
              were Gomplet8d before the requested technical advice could be
              rendered.    Rescue workers were not endangered.


       Resoonse   No. 17   Mine Name: Holnam      Cement,     Lyons, Colorado

               ResDonse information:
               Event Date: 9/t 2195
               Request Date and Time: 911lI995; 345 p.m.                                       ;.
                                                                                              :’
             . Depart Date and Time: g/12/95; 7~00 a.m.
               Arrive Mine: 930a.m.

              Tvoe of Occurrence:    Technical assistance to evaluate a condition
              involving water in high voltage manholes.   This was not a time-critical
              response and there was no need for ME0 staff or equipment at this site.               .-
              Whv this is NOT Time-Critical:     This was a routine technical assistance
              requestto  determine    if the water presented a hazard. The water was
              pumped down for the investigation.       There was no water when the
              situation was repaired.




31                                                GAO/EEES-97-18ORMSEA Tech Center Belocstion
ENcLosuRE I                                                                      ENCLOSUREI




        Resnonse    No. i8    Mine Name: Barrick   Goldstrike   Mine, Elko, NV
                                 - I
              Resoonse lnf rm tron
              Event Date: &O&5       -
              Request Date: 12/l l/95; 9:30 a.m.
              Arrive Mine: QPl2195: 7~00 am.

              Tvoe of Occurrence: Fatal haul truck accident at a surface metal mine.
              This was not a time-critical response and there was no need for ME0 staff
              or equipment at this site.
                       - .-               . I
                                  Time-C-     - The request was received several days
               aftar the accident    MSHA enforcement   staff were at the mine site
               investigating  the incident and secured the area and ensured that no
               miners were at risk. DSHTC was requested to assist in the accident
               investigation.


         Resoonse   No. 19    Mine Name: Sanbome      Cr88k - Somerset,   CO

               Reswnse    Information:
               EV8nt Date: 1124196
               Request Date: 1124196; 3:30 p.m.
               Arrive Mine: -#25/96; 330 p.m.

               Tvo8 of Occurrence:    Technical assistance to investigate a coal bounce    or
               outhurst With extensive damage. This was not a tim8-criticai    response
               and there was no need for ME0 staff or equipment at this site.         .          ,.-
                                                                                       i        :’
                Whv this is NOT Time-Criticah    A bounce occurred in the New North ‘Main
                entries at the Sanbome Creek Mine. The affected area was closed for
              . MSHA’s investigation.   The technical   assistance request was to assess
                the risk of another bOUnO8 or roof fall in the mine. The technical activity
                involved was the evaluation   of mining plans and not time-critical. No            .
                miners were at risk.




 32                                                  GAO/EEEfS-97-199BMSIiA Tech Center Beloeatfon
ENCLOSUREI                                                                             ENcLosuREz




       Response    No. 20    Mine Name: Ph8ipS Dodge Morenci         Mine, Morenci,   AZ

              R oonse Information;
              Eznt Date: 01/25/96; 5:20 a.m.
              Request Date: OlI29/96; 3~00 p.m.
              Arrive Mine: 01131196; 6~00 a.m.

              Tvne of Occurrence:     Fatal haul truck accident at a surface metal mine.
              This was not a time-&t&l       response and there was no need for ME0 Staff
              or equipment   at this site.

              Whv this is NOTTime-C&ical;   This was an accident investigation     in
              which DSHTC personnel were requested to assist almost a week after th8
              accident   MSHA inspectors wefe on site and began the investigation.    7”he
              area and equipment were secured and no one. was at risk.


       Resrronse   No. 21    Mine Name: Medicine      Sow High wall Mine - Hanna, WY

              Resoonse Information:
              Event Date: #17196
              Request Date: 4/22/96; 9:00 am, followed        by briefing   in
              OiStht  office
              Arrive Mine: 4I23l96; 1:OO p.m.

              Tvn8 of Occurrence:  Technical assistance when a high wall failure
              trapped a mining machine. This was not a tim8-critical  response and
              there was no need for ME0 staff or equipment at this site.

               Whv this is NOT Time-Critical:        A high wall mining machine is a remotely       .
             , controlled    machine that penetrates a coal seam with no workers in the
               underground        areas of the mine. The machine operators and all involved
               in this type of mining operation are located on th8 sUrfaC8 and are not
               exposed to the underground         environment.    In this instance, the high wall
               failed and the mining machine was trapped but no people were at risk.                    ..
               The OSHTC was requested to assist the Oistrict inspection staff in
               evaluating    the plans of the mine operator to remove the trapped machine-
               This was assistance       in the evaluation  of mining plans and not a time
               critical activity.




33                                                  GAO/EEEIS-97.10932
                                                                    MSHATech Center Belocation
ENCLOSUREI                                                                        ENCLOSUREI




        Resoonse   No. 22   Mine Name: Jaxon,    Carson City, NV

              Resnonse Information:
              Event Date: 04123196; 2~00 p.m.
              Request Date: 04&I/96; 3:00 p.m.
              Arrive Mine: 0425196; 1230 p.m.

              Tvoe of Occurrence:   Fatal mobile crane accident at surface nonmetal
              mine. This was not a timt+ritical   response and there was no.need for
              ME0 staff or equipment at this site.

              Whv this is NOT Thne-Critical:   The DSHTC was requested to assist in the
              accident investigation. ’ The accident site and the equipment involved was
              secured by MSHA inspection staff and there were no people at risk.


        Resoonse   No. 23   Mine Name: Bowie Mine, Paonia,     CO

              Response Information:
              Event Date: 5110196
              Request Date: 5110196; 7~00 p.m.
              Arrive Mine: 5113196; 6~30 p.m.

              Tv~e of Occurrence:    Technical assistance   during equipment recovery
              and bounce investigation.    This was not a time-critical response and there
              was no need for ME0 staff or equipment at this site.

               Whv this is NOT Time-Critical;     A large coal outburst or bounce occurred
               on May 10,1996,‘trapping     a mining ctew underground.         All escaped
               without injury.   MSHA secured the area and required plans from the                  :
             . operator for reestablishing    ventilation and installing adequate ground        ”
               support.   DSHTC was requested to assist the District in evaluating the
               plans to recover the equipment and rehabilitate         the roadways and to
               assist in the investigation.   No miners were at risk pending completion    of
               these activities.




34                                               GA0/J3EJ3S-97-1003
                                                                  MSHA Tech Center Belocatio~
ENCLOSURE1                                                                           ENcLosuRE I




       Resoonse       No. 24   Mine Name: Southwest     time Company,    Neosho,   Missouri

                 Resoonse Information:
                 Event Date: 5110196; a.m.
                 Request Date: 5110196; 2~30 p.m.
                 Arrive mine: S/10196; II:00 p.m.

                 Tvoe of Occurrence:    Ground fafl in underground    limestone mine, resulting
                 in a double fat&Q.    This was not a time-critical response and there was
                 no need for lUIE0 staff or equipment at this site.

                 Whv this is NOT Time&n ‘ticaf: This was an accident that occurred at
                 about I:00 p.m. on May IO, 1996, and MSHA was notified at I:30 p.m. The
                 bodies of the fatally injured miners were recovered    by the Newton County
                 Fire Department     arriving on site at 1:11 p.m. MSHA inspection stafF
                 secured the accident scene and the DSHTC was requested to assist in the
                 investigation.


       ResDonse      No. 25    Mine Name: Kokoweef      Mine, Mountain   Pass, San Bernardino
                               County, CA

                 desoonse Information:
                 Event Date: 5118196
                 Request Date: 5121196; a.m.
                 Arrival Time: 05121196; 530 p.m. at mine

                 TvDe of Occurrence;    Fatal truck accident at a metal mine. This was not a
                 time-critical response and there was no need for ME0 stafF or equipment      ;
                                                                                      \      ,c’
                 at this site.

             l   Whv this is NOT Time-Critical:       This was an accident investigation and
                 DSllTC was requested       to assist some three days after the accident    No
                 people were at risk and the role of the OSHTC was to provide assistance
                 to the District inspection    staff.                                              ..




35                                                    GAOIElEXIS-97-199B
                                                                       MSEA Tech center Belacation
ENCLOSURE I                                                                       ENCLOSURE I




       ResDonse   No. 26    Mine Name: Sterling   Mine - Beat@, Nevada

              bonse      Information;
              Event Date: 7124196; ZOO p.m.
              Request Date: 7126196; t 230 p.m.
              Arrive Mine: 7126196; IO:00 p.m.

              Tvne of Occurrence:      Ground fat1 fatality in an underground gold mine.
              This was not a time-critical   response and there was no need for ME0 stafi
              or equipment atthis site.

              Whv this is NOTTime&it.ical:       The accident occurred on July 24,1996,
              and the assistance of the DSHTC was requested        on July 26,1996, to
              assist in the accident investigation,   MSHA enforcement     personnel were
              on site and secured the mine, The request for assistance was to
              determine the cause of the accident and how to prevent future incidents;
              not to protect those at the mine during the investigation.


       ResDonse    No. 27   Mine Name: San Juan Ridge Mine - Nevath city, California

              Reswnse    Information:
              Event Date: 8/I 5196 .
              Request Date: 8/21196,7:30 am
              Arrive Mine : 8/21196,Z30  p.m.

              Tvne af Occurrence:   Non-injucy ground failure. This was not a time- ‘:      :“’
              critical response and there was no need for ME0 staff or equipment a”
              this site.

           . Whv this is NOT Time-Critical;    This was a request for technical
             assistance  in evaluating  a mining plan, The request was made almost a
             week after a non-injury ground failure.    No miners were at risk.




36                                                 GAO--97499E        MSHATech Center I&hcation
EN@OSURE I                                                                           ENCLOSUREI




      Response    No. 28   Mine Name: Centralia     Coal Mine, Centralia,   Washington

              RnsDonse Information;
              Event Date: 08/I 8194; p.m.
              Request Date: 08fI9/94; 9:00 a.m.
              Arrive Mine: 08119194; 4~30 p.m.

              Tvae of occurrence:   Fatal oxygen explosion in surface coal mine
              maintenance    shop. This was not a time-oritical response and there was
              no need for ME0 staff or equipment at this site.

              Whv this is NOT Time-Critical:   The DSHTC was requested to assist in the
              accident investigation.   No other miners were at risk and there was no
              activity on going that put people involved at risk. MSHA inspectors were
              on s'%eand had the area secured.

      Response    No. 29   Mine Name: Solvay Trona Mine-Green          River, Wyoming

              f?eSDOnSe information:
              Event Date: 213195; 8~30 a.m.
              Request Date: 2BB5; I:00 p.m.
              Arrive Mine: 2/3/9S; 7~30 p.m.
              Gas Monitoring:   214#5; t :00 a.m.

              w     of Occ&ence:    Massive ground failure in an underground   trona
              mine. This was a time-critical response.   ME0 gas analysis staff and
              equipment was used at this site.

              Whv thii is Time-Critical:    A massive ground failure occurred in an
              underground    trona mine that damaged ventilation devices in all area6 of
          l   the mine. The mine was exhausting        large quantities of explosive gases
              including  carbon monoxide.      There was speoulalion     that an explosion may
              have taken place. At the time the Technical Support team left Denver, the
              number of missing miners was believed to be two. Mine rescue teams
              were being assembled from the states of WY, UT, and CO. Prior to the
              arrival of Technical    Support, the mine gases were monitored by the
              enforcement    staff using hand held instruments,      Technical support was
              requested to provide technical assistance by monitoring the mine
              environment,    evaluating   conditions in the mine, and assisting in ensuring
              the safety of the personnel involved in the mine rescue efforts. One miner
              was successfully     rescued; the second miner died.




37                                                  GAO/EEES-97-199BMSEfATechCenterRelocation
ENCLOSURE1                                                                               ENCLOSUREI




      ResDonse    No. 30   Mine Name: Bowie Mine, Paonia, Colorado

             Resoonse Information:
             Event Date: 3127195
             Request Date: 3/27195,5:00 p.m.
             Arrive Mine: 3/28/95,8:45  a.m.
             Gas Monitoring:   3/28&S, 1205 p.m.

             Ivoe of Occurrence;  A spontaneous combustion    heating occurred at the
              Bowie Mine near Paonia, CO in a mined-out area. This was a time-critical
             response.  ME0 gas analysis staff and equipmentwere     used atthis site.

             Wlw this is Time-Critical:   The District inspection      staff requested
             technical   assistance from OSHTC to monitor the atmosphere while
             workers were installing seals and performing         other activities in the mine.
             Limits on gas concentrations      were established     for the event which would
             trigger the evacuation ofthe mine. Technical Supportwas              responsible
             for monitoring    the gas concentrations,   consulting     with inspection   staff
             concerning     plans and advising of adverse changes which would require
             evacuation.


      Resoonse    No. 31   Mine’ Name: Shoshone      Mine, Hanna, Wyoming            .
                               .
             Rewonse Informatron, .
             Event Date: 11117195
             Request Datez 11417195; 1I:OOam.
             Arrive Mine: 11~17195; IO:30 p.m.
             Gas Monitoring: Il~Wg5; I:00 a.m.

          . Tvoe of Occurrence:   Spontaneous combustion    heating. This was a ti&
            critical response.  ME0 gas analysis staff and equipment were used at
            this site.

             Whv this iS Time-Critical;    DSHTC was requested to assist on-site MSHA
             inspection  staff in developing and approving plans for control of the
             heating.   Miners and MSHA personnel would be underground during the
             heating, and monitoring of the mine atmosphere was required to respond
             to changes in the state of the fire. DSHTC personnel performed these
             functions.




38                                                   GAO/EEES97-199E MSHA Tech Center Relocstion
ENCLOSURE I                                                                             ENCLOSURE I




        Resnonse   No. 32 Mine Name: White River Oil Shale, Vernal,          Utah

               ResDonse Information;
               Event Date: 1214195
               Request Date: 12118l95
               Arrive Mine: 1117196; 7~00 a.m.
               Gas Monitoring:  Ikf 7/98; 8:00 a.m.        .
               TvDe of Occurrence:      Noninjury explosion at a sealed underground   mine.
               This was not a tlme-criticai     response.  ME0 gas analysis staff and
               equipment was used at this site.

               Wtw this is NOT Time-Criticaf:        The explosion occurred    in a sealed shaft
               on December 4,199s.          No miners were hurt. MSHA inspection         staff
               initiated an investigation     into the cause of the explosion, which incfuded
               plans for re-entering     the explosion area. For this phase of the
               investigation,  OSfiTC was requested to provide monitoring           assistance.
               As this was a planned-not         emergency--even&   the assistance    was not
               time-critical.


        Reswnse     No. 33 Mine Name: Deserado Mine, Rio Bfanca,            CO

               ResDonse Information:
               Event Date: 113Il96
               Request Date: 1131196; 3:30 p.m.
               Arrive Mine: 211196; 9~00 a.m.
               Gas Monitoring:   211196; IO:00 p.m.

                TvDe of Occurrence:   Mine Fire. This was a time-critical response.         ME0
              . gas analysis staff and equipment were used at this site.

               Wfw this is Time-Critical:     All miners were safely. evacuated and    !           ”
               inspection staff were on-site to oversee the safely of efforts to control the
               fire. The inspection    staff requested assistance from DSliTC in monitoring
               gases from the fire to help determine when it would be safe to enter the
               mine and to stay abreast of conditions while crews were underground
               and at risk.                                                                            ..




39                                                    GAO/HEElS-97-1006MSBA Tech Center BelacatiOn
ENCLOSUREI                                                                        ENCLOSUREI




       Resnonse    No. 34   Mine Name: Weeks Island,   Louisiana

              Res~o    e Inf rmation;
              Event Zte: 4YluSS
              Request Date: 4112B6; 1O:OO a.m.
              Depart Lafayette 4112196; 1260 noon
              Arrive Mine: 4112196; ZOO p.m.

              Tvne of Occurrence;  Mine fire. This was not a time-critical    response   and
              there was no need for ME0 staff or equipment at this site-

              Whv this is NOT Time-Critical;   When assistanCe was requested of the
              DSHTC, the mine fire was extinguished     and all miners were evacuated
              safely. MSHA inspectors’were     on site and the assistance  was in t)e
              investigation of the cause of the fire. The mine was secure and there
              were no persons at risk.

        Resoonse   No, 35 Mine Name: Deserado     Mine, Rangely,   Colorado

              Response information:
              Event Date: 2ll4/94; 200 p.m.
              Request Oatez 2115194; 9:OO a.m.
              Depart DSHTC: Zl5194; 1051 a.m.
              Arrive Crbig, Co.: 4:00 p.m.
              Underground   Investi$aticn began: 2/l6/94

              Tvne of Occurrence:     Cracked longwail shields. Several longwall shietds
              on both the headgate and tailgate of the longwalt were cracked.     This
              was not a time-critical   response and there was no need for ME0 staff or
              equipment at this site.                                                                    :’
                                                                                                    ..

             , Whv this is NOT Tkne-Criticak  At the time of the request the extent,
               cause, and effect uf the damage were unknown.      The longwall area of the
               mine had been closed and all personnel with drawn from the area u.ntii the ;’
               investigation was completed.   No miners were at risk.




                                                                                               .-




4-o                                              GAO/HEES-9?-199ItMSHA Tech Center Relocation
ENCLOSUREI                                                                          ENCLOSUREI




      3. According   to MSffA “s revised realignment p/an, a 3-person gas ana&& feam
      wiNremain in Denver at the Rocky Mountain Disirict oflsce. What activities will
      the gas analysis uniiperfonn?     WI 3 staffbe adequate to perform the work
      currently done by a stafFof 67 Why?


      The Denver laboratory   presently is staffed with six employees whose work
      includes more than gas analysis.    In addition to gas analysis, this staff performs
      dust samples analysis, toxic materials and physical agents analysis,
      preweighing  assembly of dust cassettes,      evaluation of new field instruments,
      and maintains an inspection   equipment     supply warehouse.

      The realignment    plans will fully maintain the gas analysis capability now in
      Denver with a three-person       staff consisting    of two Chemists and a Technician.
      The routine gas analysis workload performed for inspection staff requires about
      1.5 PIE of technioal    staff resources    per year. However, for reliabilii     and
      continuity, MSHA plans to commit two full-time Chemists to this function in
      Denver. Additional     available work-time      will be utilized evaluating inspection
      equipmentfor    repair or replacement

      The warehouse   workload presently accounts for less than -5 FTE of staff
      resources Per year. Under the realignment      plan, a full-time Technician will
      maintain the warehouse    and supply administrative    support for the gas analysis
      work and equipment    evaluation duties of the Chemist.

      Together, this three-person     staff is fully qualiied and able to promptly deploy
      the gas analysis equipment located in Denver, thereby maintaining           MSHA’s
      current capability  of responding     in the event of a mine fire or explosion.


      4. According to the GAO, -cent revisions fo MSHA’S realignment plan ais0
      include a new cost for bonuses to employees that wiT1transfer from tie Deqver            :I”
      technical center to ;m’ade/phia, West lG@inia.
             m     what legislation or reguJation gives MSHA the autho@v
                   to proVde such bonuses?
                   How will MSHA cover the wst of the bonuses (to&ding
                   $74 000) in its fiscal year 7997budgeet7
                   When was this expenditure approved by the Congress?


      Relocation bonuses are authorized      under the Federai Employees Pay
      Comparability   Act of 1990 (FEPCA). Consistent with FEPCA, the implementation
      regulations,  at 5 CFR Part 575, authorize retention and recNitment      bonuses.
      Nothing in FEPCA or its implementing      regulations contemplates  prior
      Congressional    approval, unlike early-out bonuses.



41                                                GAO/REHS-97.199BMSEATechCenterBelocation
ENCLOSURE I                                                                              ENCLOSURE I




      During negotiations      relative to the realignment     with MSHA’s employee union,
      the National Council of Field Labor Locals (NCFU), the Union proposed that the
      Denver Technical      Support personnel who agreed to relocate to Triadelphia,
      West Virginia also be considered         for relocation  bonuses. Consistent with the
      Agency’s prior commitment         to minimize the impact of the realignment      on
      employees,     and the desire to retain qualified staff, MSHA responded to the
      employee union’s proposal favorably and committed to relocation bonuses
       consistent with FEPCA, DOL regulations           and within budget resources.     MSHA
       and the Union havetentatively        agreed to relocation    bonuses up to $7,500 for an
       individual  employee, but in no case. exceeding a total of $75,000 for the entire
       realignment     In addition, employees accepting         a bonus must sign a written
       commitment     to stay with MSHA for 24 months.

       The Office of Personnel Management         delegated authority to develop relocation
       plans to the Agencies.       Under the Department     of labor’s (OOL) Relocation
       Sonits Plan, each OOL Agency Head may review and approve payment of a
       relocation    bonus of up to 25 percent of base salary for General Schedule            .
       employees.      Other DOL agencies have used this authority.           OOL regulations
       specify several criteria for granting relocation        bonuses, including maintaining
       the continuity    of operations   when a organizational     unit is relocated.

       Since the decision was made to realign the Technical          Support function, MSHA
       has consistently     stated that it would make every effort to minimize the impact of
       the realignment      on the Agency’s employees.      From the outset, the Agency has
       been prepared to offer the Denver Technical Support employees an opportunity
       to be specially considered       for specified MSHA vacancies (some of which are in
       the Denver area), along with all the benefits available under the directed
        reassignment      procedures.     In addition, MSHA is prepared to work with
        employ-a      in developing   the time frames for relocating   and arranging all the
        services avaiiable via the Department of Lab&s          Career Transition Assistance
                                                                                                      ;
        Program                                                                                   /

        The funds for relocation  bonuses are available       under MSHA’s authorized
        appropriations  for personnel compensation.




                                                        GAGIEEE!+9701OOB MSEtA Tech Center Beloeation
ENCLOSUREII                                                               ENCLOSUREII
                          ORGANIZATiONSWE CONTACTED

During our review of the proposed relocation of MSHA’sDTC, we contacted many
individuals and officials who were knowledgeable about the mining industry or familiar
with the work performed by the DTC. The following is a list of the major organizations
with which those individuals and officials were affiliated.
TRADE GROUPS

Colorado Mining Association-Denver, Colo.
National Mining Association-Washington,D.C.
UNION MID EMPLOYEEASSOCIA’i’TONS
National Council of Field Labor Local-Denver, Colo.
Retired Denver Mining EmployeesAssociation-Denver, Colo.
United Mine Workers of America-Washington, D-C.
United Steel Workers of America-Pittsburgh, Penn.
GOVERNMENTAGENCIES
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health-Washington, D-C.
State of Colorado, Department of Natural Resources,Division of Minerals
 and Geology-Denver, Colo.
MINING COMPANIES

ARC0 Coal Company-Denver,Colo.
Consol-Pi&.burgh, Penn.
Coteau Properties Company-Beulah, N. Dak.
Cotter Corporation-Denver, Colo.
lihrtin Marietta Aggregates-Raleigh,N-C.
Newmont Gold Company-Denver, Colo.
Solvay Mim?ra&Cheyenne,Wyo.
ACADEMIC ORGANIZATIONS
Colorado School of M&s-Golden, Cola.
PennsylvaniaState University, Department of Mineral Engine-g-Universi@      Park, Penn.




4.3                                           GAOiHEHS-97-100BMSHA Tech Center Belocation
ENCLOSURE III                                                                                                   ENCLOSURE III
                                 1996 STAFFING PROFTLE OF’ THE DTC

At the end of fiscal year 1996, MSHA’s DTC employed 36 staff, including the center chief.l
Below are the occupational titles, grade levels, and years of federal service of the 36
center staff then on board. (Six staff have since either resigned or retired.) Over 70
percent of the staff were in grades I1 through 13, and 75 percent had worked at least 16
years for the federal government. Most staff were from 40 to 72 years old.

                 I Number of staff by gmde
                                      -    level                           I Number of staff by_ years of federal service
  Jobtitle        GS-l-       GS-7’   GSll-        GS-lP       Total        1-7         S-15       16-23        24-31        32yl-s.
                  GEL6        GS-10   -- --
                                      GS-13        -- _-
                                                   GS-15                    VI?.
                                                                            .r---       m.
                                                                                        *---       w-s.
                                                                                                   .c---        w-s.
                                                                                                                ti---        --
                                                                                                                             nr
                                                                                                                             more
  Lndustrial                                  4                        4                                   3            1
  h@DiSt
  Mine safety                     1           1                        2                                                2
  and health
  5pecialist
  Mining                                      11           3       14               1          4           4            5
  engineer
  Elect&al                                    2                        2                                   1            1
  engineer
  Electronics                                 1                        1                                                1
  engineer
  chelnbt                                     2                        2            1                      1
  Physicist                                   1                        1                                   1
  PhpiCZd                                     2                        2                       1                                    1
  Scientist

  TeclmicaI               1       1            1                       3                       1           2
  =PPofi


  AdmmBk3-
       . .                3       1            1                       4                       1            1           2
  tive support

  Total                   4       3           26           3       36               2          7           14           12             1



!l’he DTC was also the permanent duty station for two civil engineers supervised by
MSHA’s Bruceton technical center staff. These engineers (1) were in the grade category
GS-11-13and (2) had from 16 to 31 years of federal work experience.
44                                                                 GAOIHEHS-9%1OORMSHA Tech Center Relocation
ENCLOSUREIV                                                                     ENCLOSUREIV
     MSHA TJXHNICAL SUPPORTON-BOARDSTIFF FIELD AND HEADQUARTERS),
                          FISCAL YEARS 1991-96
Of MSHA’sthree technical centers, the DTC experiencedthe greatest staffing decline
between fiscal years 1991and 1996. Staffing at this center decreasedby 45 percent
during this period, while staffing at MSHA’s Bruceton Safety and Health Technology
Center and the Approval and Certification Center (ACC) decreased.byover 8 and 19
percent, respectively. MSHA headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, increasedits staGng by
18 percent.
SignZcant attrition and low hiring were the reasons for the large stal%ngdeclines at the
DTC and ACC. During the period 1991-96,38staff separatedfrom the DTC, but it was
able to hire only 4 new staff. Twenty-one staff left the ACC, but only 1 staff person was
hired during the period. However, the Bruceton technical center lost 29 but hired 21
staff, and MSHA headquarters lost 8 but regained 9 staff.




Notes: The term “separated” includes any person who retired, resigned, or was fired
during the fiscal year. EOY=end of year.
7ncludes information for the technical center only. Excludes the Division of Mine
 Information Systemsand any other functional unit.
Source: MSHA Technical Support’s Weekly Personnel Reports.




46                                             GAO/EtEES-97-1OOB   MSEIA Tech   Center Belocation
ENCLOSUREV                                                                                       ENCLOSUREV
                  COMMENTS               FROM THE DEPARTMENT                      OF LABOR



         U. S. Department     o! Labor          Mine Saie!y and Hea!th Admlnistratiorr
                                                4015 Wilson Boulnvard
                                                Arlin$on. Virginia 22203- 1984


              15 APR1997
             Ms. Carlotta    G. Joyner
             Director,    Education    and Employment
                Issues
             U.S. General Accounting       Office
             1 Massachusetts      Avenue, Suite 650
             Washington,    DC 20001.
             Dear Ms.       Joyner:
             .Thank you for the opportunity           to comment on the draft General
              Accounting      Office   (GAO) report,     "The Proposed Relocation            of the
              Mine Safety and Wealth Administration's                 Safety and Wealth
              Technology      Center  from Denver, Colorado,            to Triadelphia,
              West Virginia."        The draft report accurately            portrays     Technical
              Support's     role in support of the Mine Safety and Health
              Administration's       (MSWA) enforcement        staff.      The draft report also
              provides     an accurate    description     of our purpose and intent             in
              realigning      the Technical     Support function.          We appreciate      that
              the GAO has confirmed         that MSHA's realignment           plan can be
              implemented without        adversely    affecting       the Agency's ability         to
              protect    the safety and health of any of the Nation's                   miners,
              including     those in the west.
             As outlined       in MSWA's August 1996 report to Congress, the
             realignment       of our Technical          Support function       will   enable MSHA to
             maintain     the highly          skilled   scientific      and engineering     support
             staff    essential        to solving      some of the most difficult          and complex
             safety and health problems MSHA encounters.                      The decision      to
             realign    Technical         Support was based on a realistic             assessment of
             the role of Technical               Support in furthering       our goal of improved
             miners'     safety and health throughout                the Nation,     and available     'i
             resources.        The xealignment          plan contemplates       a nationally-           :
             oriented     Technical        Support function        that will    result   in increased
             operational       efficiencies,          and improved Technical         Support.
             services.       It also comports with this Administration's
             streamlining        initiatives.
              In addition     to      the technical     comments already provided   to the
              GAO, there are          several   issues which would benefit     from
              clarification.            The record should be clear that MSHA--in order
              to resolve     any      questions    about the impact of the realignment
              plan--modified          its realignment     plan in November 1996 to retain
              its gas analysis           equipment and three staff people in Denver.




46                                                            GAOIHEES-97-199BMSEtATecbCenterBelocstion
ENCLOSUREV                                                                                 ENcLosumv



      At the same time, MSHA initiated  a national   review of its mine
      emergency response capabilities,  including   an evaluation  of the
      location  of its mine emergency equipment and supplies.     This
      review is in the final  stages of completion.
     The draft report          also recites     the concerns of some commenters
     that future       travel     budget constraints       could hinder   the delivery
     of Technical        Support services       to western mines.       MSHA has never
     failed     to respond to a mine emergency and has always maintained
     its mine emergency preparedness.                 To ensure that the record       is
     clear,     travel    budget constraints         are never a consideration      when
     delivering       Technical     Support services       in mine emergencies.       Mine
     emergencies       are supported by the Agency as a whole,              and if
     necessary,       by the Department of Labor.            Even during    the 1995-I996
     government shutdown, MSHA maintained                its mine emergency response
     preparedness.         As noted in Enclosure         1 to the draft     report,   when
     a mine emergency occurs,             the entire    Agency is mobilized.
     Depending on availability              and the location     of the emergency,      MSHA
     will    use either       commercial,     chartered    or U.S. Air Force equipment
     to deploy personnel           and equipment to the site        of the emergency.
     Whenever and wherever miners'              lives   are at stake,    MSHA uses all
     available      means and resources.
     Similarly,         the more routine        Technical      Support activities,            such as
     conducting         field     and laboratory      investigations,         are essential
     components of MSJ3A's accident                prevention      program and will
     continue        to be fully       supported    under the realignment             plan.'    As
     discussed        with GAO's evaluators,            MSHA expects      that the
     realignment          will   better    enable the Agency to prioritize                 Technical
     Support's        workload and respond to requests                with the best
     interests        of all the Nation's          miners in mind.          In the event of
     future      travel       budget constraints,        this improved capability              should
     be beneficial            in maintaining     services     to all mines,         including
     those in the west.              As a point of clarification,              the January        1996
     Agency memorandum concerning                travel     expenditures       cited     in the :
     draft     report was directed           to all MSHA managers and was not
     limited       to our Technical         Support managers.          At the time the
     memorandum was issued,              the Agency was operating            without       a budget
     with FY 1996 budget reductions                 ranging from 20 to 50 percent
     under consideration             by the Congress.
     It should also be noted that we appreciate               the concerns     of the
     Denver Technical        Support staff    raised in the draft      report.      While
     we may disagree       with their   opinions,     we also understand       that the
     realignment    directly     impacts their      working lives.     For this very
     reason,    we remain committed to minimizing           the impact of the
     realignment    on our employees.




                                                       GAO/ER3S-97-199R MSEIATechCenterReloestlon
ENcLosuRE v                                                              ENCLOSURE v



           Thank you again for the opportunity   to comment on the draft
           report, and if we can be of any further   assistance,  please          feel
           free to contact me.

           Sincereqy,




            ssistant  Secretary for
             Mine Safety and Health




(206341)


48                                        GAOIEEEIS-97.100E   MSHA Ted   Center   Beha~tion
Ordering   Information

The first copy of each GAO report and testimony is free.
Additional   copies are $2 each. Orders should be sent to the
following address, accompanied by a check or money order
made out to the Superintendent     of Documents, when
necessary. VISA and Mastercard      credit cards are accepted, a&o.
Orders for 100 or more copies to be mailed to a single address
are discounted 25 percent.

Orders by mail:

U.S. General Accounting Office
P.O. Box 6015
Gaithersburg, MD 20&M-6015

or vi&

Room 1100
700 4th St. NW (corner of 4th and G Sts. NW)
U.S. General Accounting Office
Washington, DC

Orders may also be placed by calling (202) 512-6000
or by using fax number (301) 258-4066, or TDD (301) 413-0006.

Each day, GAO issues a list of newly available reports and
testimony.   To receive facsimile copies of the daily list or any
list from the past 30 days, please call (202) 512-6000 using a
tonchtone phone. A recorded menu will provide information         on
how to obtain these lists.

For information on how to access GAO reports on the INTERNET,
send an e-mail message with “i&o” in the body to:

info@www.gao.gov

or visit GAO’s World Wide Web Home Page at:

httpz#www.gao.gov
United States
General Accounting    Office
Washington,   D.C. 20548-0001

Official   Business
Penalty    for Private   Use $300
Address    Correction    Requested




                                     ,