Memorandum Of Understanding Among Mining And Water Agencies Will Implement Fill Minimization Protocol and Reduce The Size and Number of Valley Fills Posted: August 27, 2010
A Memorandum of Understanding between the federal Office of Surface Mining, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville and Nashville Districts, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Kentuckyy's Department for Natural Resources, will coordinate the implementation of the "Fill Placement Optimization Protocol". That Protocol requires any surface coal mining operation (including surface areas of underground mines) to utilize the engineering methodology outlined in the Protocol to demonstrate that the use of valley fills for disposal of excess spoil has been minimized by restoring the pre-mining elevation of the mined area, by utilizing upland locations such as pre-law mine benches, within 1/2 mile of the area to be mined, by designing fills so that the fill deck is higher, and by constructing compacted fills rather than by end- and side-dumping the spoil from the mine bench. The protocol will result in smaller and fewer fills, more retention of spoil material on the mine bench, and more contemporaneous reclamation of disturbed areas.
The MOU assures the implementation of a protocol that the Lexington Herald-Leader called a "landmark change", and provides that the Department for Natural Resources will apply the protocol in the review of mine permits, and that both the Corps of Engineers and EPA will retain oversight to assure that the protocol has been followed. The Corps and EPA will consider the findings and determination that an applicant has followed the protocol, in determining whether the proposed disposal plan avoids and minimizes discharge of fill material into waters of the United States, under the Section 404 program.
The protocol was a result of negotiations between these agencies, industry representatives, and the Kentucky Resources Council.
A copy of the protocol and MOU can be obtained by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.