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Mr. SYMONS. It
may be those other fur are shareholders. I would not know that.
Mr. WIER. What do these men do? Do these men elect their officials?
Mr. Symons. I understand there is a policy committee of five men reelected
every 5 years, one man a year, so that one man's term runs out every year:
Mr. WIER. When you make an inspection of this kind, either before the inspection or after you make it, do you notify the management that you are going to make it, or that you have made it?
Mr. Symons. We notify the management at the time we come to the property to make the inspection.
Mr. WIER. Do you give them a copy of what your findings are?
Mr. Symons. The impression I have received most recently is that the immediate management's hands are tied by the attitude of the policy committee at the mine.
Mr. WIER. Then I am assuming there is a lack of management there, from your statement.
Mr. SYMONS. Well, yes.
Mr. WIER. Does Onio have a compulsory closing of dangerous mines; mines that have a dangerous condition?
Mr. SYMONS. I would not know that.
Mr. Symons. I understand that the State inspectors have police authority.
Mr. WIER. At least you ought to have that knowledge, the knowledge of the laws of the States where you are working.
Mr. SYMONS. We do have a working knowledge of it; yes.
Would it be a fair thing to say that the mine that you have singled out at this time is probably the worst example in Ohio, or do you have some comparable to it?
Mr. SYMONS. I would say that it is the worst.
Mr. McCONNELL. What reaction has been shown by the State authorities?
Mr. Symons. To this particular condition?
Mr. Symons. The State authorities have accepted copies of our reports, but there has been no action taken.
Mr. McCONNELL. Have they acknowledged them, or made any statement ?
Mr. SYMONS. Not that I know of.
Mr. MECHLING. They have not, nor have they acknowledged letters written in connection with the hazards at this mine.
Mr. McCONNELL. That is all.
Mr. SMITH. Do you have any other cooperative mines that you inspect?
Mr. Symons. I know of one particularly. There are others. I cannot mention them offhand.
Mr. SMITH. Are they in Ohio?
Mr. Symons. No. The one that I am thinking about is in Tuscarawas County outside of Tuscarawa.
Mr. Smith. You say that the policy committee is the one that determines whether they shall
Mr. SYMONS. Correct conditions.
Mr. Symons. They have a superintendent and president, and a man as an assistant mine foreman.
Mr. Smith. But the policy committee is the one that has to be consulted with regard to any corrective measures?
Mr. Symons. That is what I am told by the management at the mine.
Mr. SMITH. That is all.
Mr. WERDEL. How long have you been with the Federal Bureau of Mines?
Mr. SYMONS. Since November 1, 1945.
Mr. WERDEL. Then you know that copies of your report of investigations made were sent to the Bureau of mines of Ohio?
Mr. SYMONS. Yes.
Mr. WERDEL. And, as I understand, you do not know what action, if any, they took ?
Mr. SYMONS. It is evident there was very little action taken because we find the same violations when we make each succeeding inspection. Other than that we do not know.
Mr. WERDEL. Except for the surmise you make, you do not know from your own knowledge whether or not they took any action?
Mr. Symons. That is right. Mr. WERDEL. The violations that you have designated are violations of the Federal Mine Safety Code.
Mr. Symons. That is right. Mr. WERDEL. Which are regulations prepared by the Bureau of Mines?
Mr. SYMONS. That is right.
Mr. WERDEL. Now, do you know whether or not any objection was ever made by any labor organization as to the condition of the mine?
Mr. Symons. There is no labor organization there outside of the cooperative organization.
Mr. WERDEL. Do you know whether there was any attempt to organize them?
Mr. SYMONS. That I would not know.
Mr. WERDEL. You say that there was one-tenth of 1 percent in two samples of air taken off the face of the vein.
Mr. Symoxs. That is right, during this most recent inspection.
Mr. SYMONS. June 20 to the 24th.
Mr. Symons. In another inspection there was fourteen-hundredths found at the face. In the initial inspection there was 4.49 methane in a bore hole, which proves there is methane in the bed of the hole.
Mr. WERDEL. Is it true in some instances there is never methane in a coal mine?
Mr. SYMONS. Do you mean in this mine here?
Mr. WERDEL. In any coal mine? You can always find traces of methane, can you not?
Mr. SYMONS. Not always.
Mr. WERDEL. What is the condition that you would call an explosive condition, the percentage of methane?
Mr. Symons. What do you mean, an accumulation?
Mr. SYMONS. Five percent. It becomes hazardous sooner than that. The fact that we found one-tenth of 1 percent in the face of a working entry would be proof that if the ventilation were cut off for a continued period, it could grow in volume and strength until it would attain an explosive mixture.
Mr. KELLEY. I might interrupt. From your testimony there, it is cut off when the ventilating doors are left open.
Mr. SYMONS. Yes, definitely.
Mr. WERDEL. You do not know what the Ohio code requires under those circumstances ?
Mr. SYMONS. What do you mean?
Mr. WERDEL. What is the Ohio law in connection with ventilation and a condition such as you have found, one-tenth of 1 percent of methane?
Mr. SYMONS. The Ohio mine laws are in the process of being changed right now. I do not know what amount of air is required at the face of working entries now.
Mr. WERDEL. Are we to understand from the fact that you have not followed up, or have not received a communication from the Ohio authorities, that there is a bad feeling of some kind between the Federal Bureau of Mines and the proper Ohio authorities?
Mr. SYMONS. I would not say there was a bad feeling.
Mr. WERDEL. Under the law as it now exists, your responsibilities are to give advice, as I understand it.
Mr. Symons. That is right.
Mr. WERDEL, To the operators and to the Ohio authorities, and after having submitted these reports, you have not made any followup on them at all; is that right, other than to go back and inspect?
Mr. Symons. I think the fact that we inspected the mine in March of this year and again in June and in 1947, July, and then again in September, is proof that we are very much concerned and are following up, and are concerned about the condition of the mine. There has been correspondence on the condition of the mine from my office, as Mr. Mechling stated, with the chief of the Ohio Division of Mines.
Mr. WERDEL. That is all.
Mr. SYMONS. Another statement I might make in connection with this mine is the fact the fan is not always operating 24 hours a day. Whenever their substation is shut down the fan stops.
Mr. KELLEY. Are there any men in the mine at that time?
Mr. Symons. No; I think not, but they go in without a preshift inspection.
Mr. KELLEY. They do?
Mr. BAILEY. In that case then, if that fan were stopped, there could be an accumulation of methane gas, and if there was no preinspection before the men went in they could go in with a dangerous condition.
Mr. Symons. They go in with open lights. They go in with carbide lamps and smoke anywhere in the mine.
Mr. KELLEY. You stated a while ago that their hands were tied on account of the policy committee. What is the policy committee?
Mr. SYMONS. It is a committee of five men who determine the action and the conduct of the mine.
Mr. KELLEY. Those five men really correspond to a board of directors?
Mr. Symons. That is the way that I understand it.
Mr. SYMONS. I have that from the management, exactly that.
Mr. KELLEY. If you had police authority as a Federal inspector, what would you do to that property in its present condition?
Mr. SYMONS. There is only one course of action left to take, and that is to stop it.
Mr. KELLEY. Do you have any statement to make, Mr. Kirk?
Mr. KIRK. I feel the same as Mr. Symons—the mine is in such shape that if we did not have any other course, we would just have to stop it.
Mr. KELLEY. Close it up!
Mr. KELLEY. Have you in your experience as an engineer come across any mines that are any worse or as bad as this one?
Mr. MECHLING. We consider that the worst mine in the State. However, we do have numerous mines, more or less the smaller mines, where similar conditions exist—not quite to the extent, probably, that they exist in this particular mine, and they do not involve the number of employees that are involved in this particular mine. Mr. WERDEL. You have used the word "employees.” Do
Do you know whether or not these men are employees or company owners?
Mr. MECHLING. I do not know. They are men who are working in that particular mine.
Mr. WERDEL. On what basis do you think a Federal bureau could close a mine in Ohio if they were coowners under the State law of Ohio.
Mr. MECHLING. I have no statement to make with regard to that.
Mr. WERDEL. I take it there must be some distinction in the law in the State of Ohio with regard to the operation by coowners as distinguished from the employer-employee relationship.
Mr. MECHLING. That is probably true.
Mr. BAILEY. The State bureau is represented, and they will develop that information.
Mr. Jacobs. You are an engineer?
Mr. JABOBs. You just know about the dangerous condition of the mine?
Mr. MECHLING. That is right.
Mr. PERKINS. Does Mr. Kirk have any supplemental statement to make, to be added to the statement of Mr. Symons as to the imminent danger that exists in this mine?
Mr. KIRK. No. I think that Mr.Symons has covered it thoroughly.
We will now hear from Mr. Walter W. Holt, president of the John M. Hirst Co.
TESTIMONY OF WALTER W. HOLT, PRESIDENT, JOHN M. HIRST CO.,
Mr. Holt. I really do not know where to begin. You gentlemen understand the set-up of our mine. It is not actually a cooperative mine. It is a partnership. Every person who works in our mne is a partner in that mine. He pays $100 when he goes into that mine when he starts to work. Then he pays so much out of the earnings he makes until he gets a maximum of $900, which makes him a full partner. That organization right now has approximately two hundred-andsome-odd members. Some of them are retired, and there are about 150 men actually working at that mine now. We have absolutely no employees.
Every man in that mine is a partner, and we determine the wages by the earnings of the mine.
The policy of that mine is set up by a mine committee which is elected, one a year, for a period of 5 years. They are the men who determine the policy of the mine-what shall be done with these reports is determined by that mine committee.
Mr. KELLEY. Has that mine committee turned down these recommendations?
Mr. Holt. They have gone along fairly reasonably on most of these things, but they do not consider that mine dangerous, and those men are practical miners and have been in that mine all their lives.
We have had the mine for only 25 years but some of those men have worked there for 40 years and they do not consider the situation as hazardous in that mine.
Mr. KELLEY. That is because they have become inured to the danger.
Mr. Holt. Well, I do not really think so. There are not very many men that do not place some value on their lives. Those men would not go into the mine if they figured that mine was as hazardous as Mr. Symons has said.
Mr. KELLEY. They have gone into other mines that were very hazardous.
Mr. Holt. They were probably forced into it. In our mine they are not. There is no man forced to do anything in our mine. Understand, these five men who constitute this committee are men who are working in that mine every day, the same as the other 145 men are.