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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 4. Conservation and Natural Resources
Agency 25. Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy
Chapter 130. Coal Surface Mining Reclamation Regulations
7/6/2020

4VAC25-130-815.15. Performance Standards for Coal Exploration.

(a) Habitats of unique or unusually high value for fish, wildlife, and other related environmental values and critical habitats of threatened or endangered species identified pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 USC § 1531 et seq.) shall not be disturbed during coal exploration. Such habitats shall include wetlands, riparian areas, cliffs supporting raptors, areas offering special shelter or protection, reproduction and nursery areas, and wintering areas.

(b) All roads or other transportation facilities used for coal exploration shall comply with the applicable provisions of 4VAC25-130-816.150(b) through (f), 4VAC25-130-816.180 and 4VAC25-130-816.181.

(1) Vehicular travel on other than established graded and surfaced roads shall be limited by the person who conducts coal exploration to that absolutely necessary to conduct the exploration. Travel shall be confined to graded and surfaced roads during periods when excessive damage to vegetation or rutting of the land surface could result.

(2) Any new road in the exploration area which is used less than 6 months shall comply with the provisions of 4VAC25-130-816.150. If the road will be frequently used longer than 6 months, it shall comply with the provisions of 4VAC25-130-816.151.

(3) Existing roads may be used for exploration in accordance with the following:

(i) All applicable Federal, State and local requirements shall be met.

(ii) If the road is significantly altered for exploration, including, but not limited to, change of grade, widening, or change of route, or if use of the road for exploration contributes additional suspended solids to streamflow or runoff, then Paragraph (i) of this section shall apply to all areas of the road which are altered or which result in such additional contributions.

(iii) If the road is significantly altered for exploration activities and will remain as a permanent road after exploration activities are completed, the person conducting exploration shall ensure that the requirements of 4VAC25-130-816.150 through 4VAC25-130-816.152, as appropriate, are met for the design, construction, alteration and maintenance of the road.

(4) Promptly after exploration activities are completed, existing roads used during exploration shall be reclaimed either--

(i) To a condition equal to or better than their pre-exploration condition; or

(ii) To a condition required for permanent roads under 4VAC25-130-816.150 through 4VAC25-130-816.152, as appropriate.

(c) If excavations, artificially flat areas, or embankments are created during exploration, these areas shall be returned to the approximate original contour promptly after such features are no longer needed for coal exploration.

(d) Topsoil shall be separately removed, stored, and redistributed on areas disturbed by coal exploration activities as necessary to assure successful revegetation or as required by the division.

(e) All areas disturbed by coal exploration activities shall be revegetated in a manner that encourages prompt revegetation and recovery of a diverse, effective, and permanent vegetative cover. Revegetation shall be accomplished in accordance with the following:

(1) All areas disturbed by coal exploration activities shall be seeded or planted to the same seasonal variety native to the areas disturbed. If the land use of the exploration area is intensive agriculture, planting of the crops normally grown will meet the requirements of this Paragraph.

(2) The vegetative cover shall be capable of stabilizing the soil surface from erosion.

(f) Diversions of overland flows and ephemeral, perennial, or intermittent streams shall be made in accordance with 4VAC25-130-816.43.

(g) Each exploration hole, borehole, well, or other exposed underground opening created during exploration shall be reclaimed in accordance with 4VAC25-130-816.13 through 4VAC25-130-816.15.

(h) All facilities and equipment shall be promptly removed from the exploration area when they are no longer needed for exploration, except for those facilities and equipment that the division determines may remain to--

(1) Provide additional environmental data;

(2) Reduce or control the onsite and offsite effects of the exploration activities; or

(3) Facilitate future surface mining and reclamation operations by the person conducting the exploration.

(i) Coal exploration shall be conducted in a manner which minimizes disturbance of the prevailing hydrologic balance in accordance with 4VAC25-130-816.41 through 4VAC25-130-816.49. The division may specify additional measures which shall be adopted by the person engaged in coal exploration.

(j) Acid- or toxic-forming materials shall be handled and disposed of in accordance with 4VAC25-130-816.41(b), 4VAC25-130-816.41(f), and 4VAC25-130-816.102(f). The division may specify additional measures which shall be adopted by the person engaged in coal exploration.

Statutory Authority

§§ 45.1-161.3 and 45.1-230 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR480-03-19 § 815.15, eff. December 15, 1981; amended, eff. June 28, 1982; October 28, 1982; December 14, 1982; October 11, 1983; December 27, 1983; May 8, 1984; June 22, 1984; August 2, 1984; October 16, 1985; January 7, 1987; July 22, 1987; November 25, 1987; October 12, 1988; December 26, 1990; July 1, 1991; July 17, 1991; November 20, 1991; July 7, 1992; May 5, 1993; October 19, 1994.

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