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Marshall v. Stoudt's Ferry Preparation Co.

decided: July 19, 1979.

RAY MARSHALL, SECRETARY OF LABOR, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
v.
STOUDT'S FERRY PREPARATION COMPANY, APPELLANT



APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA (D.C. Civil No. 78-2503)

Before Weis and Garth, Circuit Judges, and Gerry, District Judge.*fn*

Author: Weis

Opinion OF THE COURT

In this appeal we determine that the word "mine" as used in the Mine Safety and Health Amendments Act of 1977 includes appellant's preparation plant, which separates a low-grade fuel from sand and gravel dredged from a riverbed. We also find the warrantless inspection provisions of the Act sufficiently distinguishable from those of the Occupational Health and Safety Act so as to withstand constitutional challenge. We therefore affirm an order of the district court permitting the Secretary of Labor to inspect the appellant's facility without a warrant.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania dredges the Schuylkill River and deposits the material obtained from the riverbed into a nearby basin. Stoudt's Ferry Preparation Company purchases this material and by the use of a front-end loader and a conveyor belt transports the dredged refuse to its plant. There, through a sink and float process, the material is separated into two piles, one of sand and gravel, the other of a burnable material which, when blended with other substances, is usable fuel. The plant is fully automated and employs four people.

The company sells the sand and gravel as well as the burnable material. In 1977, of approximately 500,000 tons of dredging material processed, 64,500 tons were burnable, and of the 250,000 tons dredged in 1978, about 10,700 were in that category. The BTU output of the burnable material is far lower than that of anthracite or bituminous coal or lignite, and the market price is about one-third of anthracite. Because it is extracted by a specific gravity process, the content of the material is uncontrollable. After making a chemical analysis of the burnable substance, a utility company that had negotiated an output agreement with Stoudt's Ferry drew up a sales contract in which the product is described as "usable anthracite refuse."

In May 1978, an inspector from the Department of Labor attempted to inspect the plant under the Mine Safety and Health Amendments Act of 1977, 30 U.S.C.A. §§ 801-878 (1971 & Supp. 1979), but was denied entry.*fn1 The Secretary of Labor then sought a preliminary injunction enjoining Stoudt's Ferry from refusing to permit the inspection.*fn2 After a hearing, the district court found that the company's operation came within the scope of § 102(b) of the Act, 30 U.S.C.A. § 802(h)(1), the section defining the word "mine," and that the warrantless entry provisions of the statute were constitutional. Concluding that the congressional purpose behind the Act is to give the Secretary broad authority in the mining and extraction industries, the district court found that the product sold by the company to the utility was "akin to bituminous coal, lignite or anthracite . . .. (a)nd what is taking place . . . is the work of preparing coal or other minerals." As an additional basis for coverage, the district court concluded that the operation involved the extraction of sand and gravel from their natural deposits. The court, therefore, granted the Secretary's request for an injunction, but at the urging of the company, imposed a confidentiality requirement and granted a stay pending appeal.

I.

Congress passed the Federal Mine Safety and Health Amendments Act of 1977 to strengthen the legislation governing coal, metallic, and nonmetallic mines already in effect, the Federal Metallic and Nonmetallic Mine Safety Act, Pub.L.No.89-577, 80 Stat. 772, and the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, Pub.L.No.91-173, 83 Stat. 742. The Coal Act was the more comprehensive, covering miners' health as well as safety, to which the Metal Act was limited. The standards in the Coal Act were more definitive and complex and enforcement was more thorough.*fn3 But Congress was not satisfied that all that could be done had been done to promote health and safety in the mines. Among the improvements suggested was the adoption of one statute covering the entire mining industry and containing strengthened enforcement provisions to be administered by the Department of Labor. To meet its objectives, Congress included a broad definition of "mine" in § 102(b) of the Act, reading in relevant part:

"(1) "Coal or other mine' means (A) an area of land from which minerals are extracted in nonliquid form or, if in liquid form, are extracted with workers underground, (B) private ways and roads appurtenant to such area, and (C) lands, excavations, underground passageways, shafts, slopes, tunnels and workings, structures, facilities, equipment, machines, tools, or other property including impoundments, retention dams, and tailings ponds, on the surface or underground, used in, or to be used in, or resulting from, the work of extracting such minerals from their natural deposits in nonliquid form, or if in liquid form, with workers underground, or used in, or to be used in, the milling of such minerals, or the work of preparing coal or other minerals, and includes custom coal preparation facilities. . . .

"(2) For purposes of subchapters II, III, and IV of this chapter, "coal mine' means an area of land and all structures, facilities, machinery, tools, equipment, shafts, slopes, tunnels, excavations, and other property, real or personal, placed upon, under, or above the surface of such land by any person, used in, or to be used in, or resulting from, the work of extracting in such area bituminous coal, lignite, or anthracite from its natural deposits in the earth by any means or method, and the work of preparing the coal so extracted, and includes custom coal preparation facilities;

"(i) "work of preparing the coal' means the breaking, crushing, sizing, cleaning, washing, drying, mixing, storing, and loading of bituminous coal, lignite, or anthracite, and such other work of preparing such coal as is usually done by the operator of the coal mine . . . ." 30 U.S.C.A. § 802(h).

Commenting on this sweeping definition, the Senate Committee stated that "what is considered to be a mine and to be regulated under this Act" was to be given the broadest possible interpretation and that doubts were to be resolved in favor of inclusion of a facility within the coverage of the Act. See S.Rep.No.181, 95th Cong., 1st Sess. 1, 14, Reprinted in (1977) U.S.Code Cong. & Admin. News 3401, 3414.

Despite the statute's expansive language and this expression of legislative intent, Stoudt's Ferry contends that it is not included within the Act's ambit because the facility's activities are not related to the extraction of minerals from natural deposits or their preparation after extraction. But the company's process of separating from the dredged refuse a burnable product "akin" to coal, which is then sold as a low-grade fuel, brings the company within the Act's coverage as the operator of a "structure" and a "facility" "on the surface . . . used in . . . the work of preparing coal or other minerals." 30 U.S.C.A. § 802(h). We agree with the district court that the work of preparing coal or other minerals is included within the Act whether or not extraction is also being performed by the operator. Although it may seem incongruous to apply the label "mine" to the kind of ...


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