30 CFR 717.14 - Backfilling and grading of road cuts, mine entry area cuts, and other surface work areas.

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§ 717.14 Backfilling and grading of road cuts, mine entry area cuts, and other surface work areas.

(a) Upon completion of underground mining, surface work areas which are involved in excavation, disposal of materials, or otherwise affected, shall be regraded to approximate original contour. The permittee shall transport, backfill and compact fill material to assure stability or to prevent leaching of toxic pollutants. Barren rock or similar materials excess to the mining operations and which are disposed on the land surface shall be subject to the provision of § 717.15 of this part. Roads and support facility areas existing prior to the effective date of this part and used in support of underground mining operations which are subject to this part shall be regraded to the extent deemed feasible by the regulatory authority based on the availability of backfill material and resulting stability of the affected lands after reclamation. As a minimum, the permittee shall be required to:

(1) Retain all earth, rock and other mineral nonwaste materials on the solid portion of existing or new benches, except that the regulatory authority may permit placement of such material at the site of the faceup as a means of disposing of excavated spoil when additional working space is needed to facilitate operations. Such placement of material shall be limited to minimize disturbance of land and to the hydrologic balance. Such fills shall be stabilized with vegetation and shall achieve a minimum static safety factor of 1.5. In no case shall the outslope exceed the angle of repose.

(2) Backfill and grade to the most moderate slope possible to eliminate any highwall along roads, mine entry faces or other areas. Slopes shall not exceed the angle of repose or such lesser slopes as required by the regulatory authority to maintain stability.

(b) On approval by the regulatory authority and in order to conserve soil moisture, ensure stability, and control erosion on final graded slopes, cut-and-fill terraces may be allowed if the terraces are appropriate substitutes for construction of lower grades on the reclaimed lands. The terraces shall meet the following requirements:

(1) The width of the individual terrace bench shall not exceed 20 feet unless specifically approved by the regulatory authority as necessary for stability erosion control, or roads.

(2) The vertical distance between terraces shall be as specified by the regulatory authority to prevent excessive erosion and to provide long/term stability.

(3) The slope of the terrace outslope shall not exceed 1v:2h (50 percent). Outslopes which exceed 1v:2h (50 percent) may be approved if they have a minimum static safety factor of 1.5 of more and provide adequate control over erosion and closely resemble the surface configuration of the land prior to mining. In no case may highwalls be left as part of terraces.

(4) Culverts and underground rock drains shall be used on the terrace only when approved by the regulatory authority.

(c) All surface operations on steep slopes of 20 degrees or more or on such lesser slopes as the regulatory authority define as a steep slope shall be conducted so as not to place any material on the downslope below road cuts, mine working or other benches, other than in conformance with paragraph (a)(1) of this part.

(d)Regrading or stabilizing rills and gullies. When rills or gullies deeper than 9 inches form in areas that have been regraded and the topsoil replaced but vegetation has not yet been established, the permittee shall fill, grade, or otherwise stabilize the rills and gullies and reseed or replant the areas according to § 717.20. The regulatory authority shall specify that erosional features of lesser size be stabilized if they result in additional erosion and sedimentation.

(e)Covering coal and acid-forming, toxic-forming, combustible, and other waste materials; stabilizing backfilled materials; and using waste material for fill. Any acid-forming, toxic-forming, combustible materials, or any other waste materials as identified by the regulatory authority that are exposed, used, or produced during underground mining and which are deposited on the land surface shall, after placement in accordance with § 717.15 of this part, be covered with a minimum of 4 feet of nontoxic and noncombustible material; or, if necessary, treated to neutralize toxicity, in order to prevent water pollution and sustained combustion, and to minimize adverse effects on plant growth and land uses. Where necessary to protect against upward migration of salts, exposure by erosion, to provide an adequate depth for plant growth, or to otherwise meet local conditions, the regulatory authority shall specify thicker amount of cover using nontoxic material. Acid-forming or toxic-forming material shall not be buried or stored in proximity to a drainage course so as to cause or pose a threat of water pollution or otherwise violate the provisions of § 717.17 of this part.

(f)Grading along the contour. All final grading, preparation of earth, rock and other nonwaste materials before replacement of topsoil, and placement of topsoil in accordance with § 717.20, shall be done along the contour to minimize subsequent erosion and instability. If such grading, preparation or placement along the contour would be hazardous to equipment operators, grading, preparation or placement in a direction other than generally parallel to the contour may be used. In all cases, grading, preparation or placement shall be conducted in a manner which minimizes erosion and provides a surface for replacement of topsoil which will minimize slippage.