ALABAMA SURFACE MINING COMMISSION

ADMINISTRATIVE CODE

CHAPTER 880-X-10G SPECIAL PERFORMANCE STANDARDS OPERATIONS ON PRIME FARMLANDS

TABLE OF CONTENTS

880-X-10G-.01 Scope And Purpose

880-X-10G-.02 Responsibilities

880-X-10G-.03 Applicability

880-X-10G-.04 Soil Removal And Stockpiling

880-X-10G-.05 Soil Replacement

880-X-10G-.06 Revegetation And Restoration Of Soil Productivity

880-X-10G-.01 Scope And Purpose. This part sets forth special environmental protection performance and reclamation and design standards for surface coal mining and reclamation operations on prime farmlands.

Author:

Statutory Authority: Code of Ala. 1975, 9-16-71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 80, 85, 90, 91, 92.

History: Original filed November 14, 1989; effective: March 7, 1991.

880-X-10G-.02 Responsibilities. The State Regulatory Authority shall use the specifications set by the State Conservationist for prime farmland soil removal, storage, replacement, and reconstruction to carry out its responsibilities under these rules.

Author:

Statutory Authority: Code of Ala. 1975, 9-16-71, et. seq.

History: Original Filed November 14, 1989; effective: March 7, 1991.

880-X-10G-.03 Applicability. The requirements of this subchapter shall not apply to:

(1) Coal preparation plants, support facilities and roads of underground mines that are actively used over extended periods of time and where such uses affect a minimal amount of land. Such uses shall meet the requirements of subchapter 10C or 10D, whichever is applicable.

(2) Disposal areas containing coal mine waste resulting from underground mines that is not technologically and economically feasible to store in underground mines or on non-prime farmland. The operator shall minimize the area of prime farmland used for such purposes.

(3) Prime farmland that has been excluded in accordance with Rule 880-X-8J-.08(1).

Author:

Statutory Authority: Code of Ala. 1975, 9-16-71, et seq.

History: Original Filed November 14, 1989; effective: March 7, 1991. Amended: Filed July 27, 1998; effective August 31, 1998; operative January 3, 1999.

Ed. Note: On December 4, 1998, the Office of Surface Mining approved this rulemaking adopted by the commission on July 16, 1998. The effective date of this rule will be January 3, 1999.

880-X-10G-.04 Soil Removal And Stockpiling.

(1) Prime farmland soil shall be removed from the area to be disturbed for drilling, blasting or mining.

(2) The minimum depth of soil and soil materials to be removed and stored for use in the reconstruction of prime farmlands shall be sufficient to meet the requirements of Rule 880-X-10G-.05(2).

(3) Soil removal and stockpiling operations on prime farmland shall be conducted to:

(a) Separately remove the topsoil or remove other suitable soil materials where such other soil materials will create a final soil having a greater productive capacity than that which existed prior to mining. If not utilized immediately, this material shall be placed in stockpiles separate from the spoil and all other excavated materials; and

(b) Separately remove the B or C horizon or other suitable soil materials to provide the thickness of suitable soil required by Rule 880-X-10G-.05(2), except as approved by the Regulatroy Authority where the B or C soil horizons would not otherwise be removed and where soil capabilities can be retained. If not utilized immediately, each horizon or other material shall be stockpiled separately from the spoil and all other excavated materials. Where combinations of such soil material created by mixing have been shown to be equally or more favorable for plant growth than the B horizon, separate handling is not necessary.

(4) Stockpiles shall be placed within the permit area where they will not be disturbed or be subject to excessive erosion. If left in place more than thirty (30) days, stockpiles shall meet the requirements of Rules 880-X-10D-.09 and 880-X-10C-.09.

Author: Randall C. Johnson

Statutory Authority: Code of Ala. 1975, 9-16-71, et seq.

History: Original Filed November 14, 1989; effective: March 7, 1991. Amended: Filed July 27, 1998; effective August 31, 1998; operative January 3, 1999.

Ed. Note: On December 4, 1998, the Office of Surface Mining approved this rulemaking adopted by the commission on July 16, 1998. The effective date of this rule will be January 3, 1999.

880-X-10G-.05 Soil Replacement.

(1) Prime farmland soil shall be reconstructed to meet the specifications established by the U.S. Soil Conservation Service for the State of Alabama. Including at a minimum the specified physical and chemical characteristics of the reconstructed soil and soil horizon depths, soil densities, soil pH and other specifications such that the reconstructed soil will have the capability of achieving levels of yield equal to or higher than those of non-mined prime farmland in the surrounding areas.

(2) The minimum depth of soil and substitute soil material to be reconstructed shall be 48 inches, or a lesser depth equal to the depth to a subsurface horizon in the natural soil that inhibits or prevents root penetration, or a greater depth if determined necessary to restore the original soil productive capacity. Soil horizon shall be considered as inhibiting or preventing root penetration if their physical or chemical properties or water supplying capacities cause them to restrict or prevent penetration by roots of plants common to the vicinity of the permit area and if these properties or capacities have little or no beneficial effect on soil productive capacity.

(3) The operator shall replace and regrade the soil horizons or the root zone material with proper compaction and uniform depth.

(4) The operator shall replace the B horizon, C horizon or other suitable materials specified in Section 880-X-10G-.04 to the thickness needed to meet the requirements of paragraph (2) of this Rule. In those areas where the B or C horizons were not removed but may have been compacted or otherwise damaged during the mining operation, the operator shall engage in deep tilling or other appropriate means to restore premining capabilities.

(5) The operator shall replace the topsoil or other suitable soil material specified in Rule 880-X-10G-.04(3)(a) as the final soil surface layer. This surface soil layer shall equal or exceed the thickness of the original surface soil layer as determined by the soil survey.

Author: Randall C. Johnson

Statutory Authority: Code of Ala. 1975, 9-16-71, et seq.

History: Original Filed November 14, 1989; effective: March 7, 1991; Amended: September 18, 1990; effective: August 2, 1991.

880-X-10G-.06 Revegetation And Restoration Of Soil Productivity.

(1) Following prime farmland soil replacement, the soil surface shall be stabilized with vegetative cover or other means that effectively control soil loss by wind and water erosion.

(2) Prime farmland soil productivity shall be restored in accordance with the following provisions:

(a) Measurement of soil productivity shall be initiated within ten years after completion of soil replacement.

(b) Soil productivity shall be measured on a representative sample or on all of the mined and reclaimed prime farmland area, using the reference crop determined under paragraph (2)(f) of this section. A statistically valid sampling technique at a 90% or greater statistical confidence level shall be used as approved by the State Regulatory Authority in consultation with the State Soil Conservation in the permit review process.

(c) The measurement period for determining average annual crop production (yield) shall be a minimum of three crop years prior to release of the operator's performance bond.

(d) The level of management applied during the measurement period shall be the same as the level of management used on non-mined prime farmland in the surrounding area.

(e) Restoration of soil productivity shall be considered achieved when the average yield during the measurement period equals or exceeds the average yield of the reference crop established for the same period for non-mined soils of the same or similar texture or slope phase of the soil series in the surrounding area under equivalent management practices.

(f) The reference crop on which restoration of soil productivity is proven shall be selected from the crops most commonly produced on the surrounding prime farmlands. Where row crops are the dominant crops grown on prime farmland in the area, the row crop requiring the greatest rooting depth shall be chosen as one of the reference crops.

(g) Reference crop yields for a given crop season are to be determined from:

1. The current yield records of representative local farms in the surrounding area, with the concurrence of the State Conservationist, or

2. The average County yield recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which have been adjusted by the U.S. Soil Conservation Service for local yield variation within the County that is associated with differences between non-mined prime farmland soil and all other soils that produce the reference crop.

(h) Under either procedure in paragraph 2(g) of this Rule, the average reference crop yield may be adjusted, with the concurrence of the State Conservationist, for:

1. Disease, pest and weather induced seasonal variation; or

2. Differences in specific management practices where the overall management practices of the crops being compared are equivalent.

Author: Randall C. Johnson

Statutory Authority: Code of Ala. 1975, 9-16-71, et seq.

History: Original Filed November 14, 1989; effective March 7, 1991.