OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.

May 25, 1995

Mr. William J. Gibson
Manager, Regulatory Compliance
James River Pennington, Inc.
Naheola Mill HC 66
Box 315
Pennington, Alabama 36916

Dear Mr. Gibson:

This is in response to your letter of May 11, addressed to Mr. Joseph A. Dear, Assistant Secretary of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) concerning your request for a permanent variance and interim order from 29 CFR 1910.261(g)(17)(i). Your letter was forwarded to the Directorate of Technical Support for a response.

The above standard requires that "A safety valve shall be installed in a separate line from each pressure vessel; no hand valve shall be installed between this safety valve and the pressure vessel. Safety valves shall be checked between each cook to be sure they have not become plugged or corroded to the point of being inoperative." In lieu of complying with the standard, you are requesting a variance to use process computers to continuously monitor your batch digester operations and to use conventional relief valves which function independently.

Currently, we are evaluating your request to determine if it merits consideration for a permanent variance. We will contact you when the evaluation is completed.

Regarding your request for an interim order, OSHA acknowledges that the Agency's regulation (29 CFR 1905) provides for interim relief where a permanent variance has been sought. However, OSHA has long held that section 6(d) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which provides for the grant of permanent variances, does not provide for the grant of interim relief. Therefore, the provisions of 29 CFR 1905.11, which address the grant of interim relief, are inoperative.

If you have any questions concerning your variance request, please contact Ms. Juanita Jones in the Office of Variance Determination at (202) 219-7193.


Charles E. Adkins, CIH
Directorate of Technical Support