The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet today announced a new protocol designed to reduce the amount of “spoil” – the stuff removed in mining operations. The process is designed to reduce the size and number of fills to minimize stream impact from mining as required by the Clean Water Act.
A technical study group made up of engineers representing the Cabinet, Army Corps of Engineers, mining industry, a citizen’s group and the federal Office of Surface Mining developed a Reclamation Advisory Memorandum, RAM 145, that will, according to the Cabinet maintain the approximate original contour (AOC) by doing the following:
· Provide an objective process for achieving AOC while ensuring stability of backfill material and minimization of sediment to streams.
· Provide an objective process for minimizing the quantity of excess spoil that can be placed in excess spoil disposal sites such as valley fills.
· Minimize watershed impacts by ensuring compliance with environmental performance standards imposed by SMCRA.
· Minimize impacts to aquatic and terrestrial habitats.
· Provide an objective process for use in permit reviews, as well as field inspections during mining and reclamation phases.
· Maintain the flexibility necessary for addressing site specific mining and reclamation conditions that require discretion by the regulatory authority as intended by SMCRA and Congress.
The memorandum is not mandatory, but RAM 145 states that using the protocol will facilitate the permitting procedure. The process will not go through the Legislature or an administrative regulations procedure because it is a voluntary standard.
According to Linda Potter of the Cabinet, “The RAM is currently being distributed, but there may be a bit of lag time for the coal industry and engineering companies to work out the best way to implement.”
For more information, contact the Director, Division of Mine Permits, 2 Hudson Hollow, Frankfort, KY, 40601 or call 502-564-2320