Administrative Code

Virginia Administrative Code
1/18/2022

Part 823. Special Permanent Program Performance Standards—Operations on Prime Farmland

4VAC25-130-823.1. Scope and purpose.

This Part sets forth special environmental protection performance, reclamation, and design standards for surface coal mining and reclamation operations on prime farmland.

Statutory Authority

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

Historical Notes

Derived from VR480-03-19 § 823.1, 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.

4VAC25-130-823.4. Responsibilities.

(a) The U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service within the State shall establish specifications for prime farmland soil removal, storage, replacement, and reconstruction.

(b) The division shall use the soil-reconstruction specifications of Paragraph (a) of this section to carry out its responsibilities under 4VAC25-130-785.17 and Subchapter VJ.

Statutory Authority

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

Historical Notes

Derived from VR480-03-19 § 823.4, 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.

4VAC25-130-823.11. Applicability.

The requirements of this Part shall not apply to:

(a) Surface facilities 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 Part 817 for underground mining activities; or

(b) 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.

(c) Prime farmland that has been excluded in accordance with 4VAC25-130-785.17(a).

Statutory Authority

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

Historical Notes

Derived from VR480-03-19 § 823.11, 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.

4VAC25-130-823.12. Soil removal and stockpiling.

(a) Prime farmland soils shall be removed from the areas to be disturbed before drilling, blasting, or mining.

(b) The minimum depth of soil and soil materials to be removed and stored for use in the reconstruction of prime farmland shall be sufficient to meet the requirements of 4VAC25-130-823.14(b).

(c) Soil removal and stockpiling operations on prime farmland shall be conducted to--

(1) 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 exists prior to mining. If not utilized immediately, this material shall be placed in stockpiles separate from the spoil and all other excavated materials; and

(2) Separately remove the B or C soil horizon or other suitable soil material to provide the thickness of suitable soil required by 4VAC25-130-823.14(b), except as approved by the division 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 materials created by mixing have been shown to be equally or more favorable for plant growth than the B horizon, separate handling is not necessary.

(d) Stockpiles shall be placed within the permit area where they will not be disturbed or be subject to excessive erosion. If left in place for more than 30 days, stockpiles shall meet the requirements of 4VAC25-130-816.22 or 4VAC25-130-817.22.

Statutory Authority

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

Historical Notes

Derived from VR480-03-19 § 823.12, 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.

4VAC25-130-823.14. Soil replacement.

(a) Soil reconstruction specifications established by the U. S. Natural Resources Conservation Service shall be based upon the standards of the National Cooperative Soil Survey and shall include, as a minimum, physical and chemical characteristics of reconstructed soils and soil descriptions containing soil-horizon depths, soil densities, soil pH, and other specifications such that reconstructed soils will have the capability of achieving levels of yield equal to, or higher than, those on nonmined prime farmland in the surrounding area.

(b) 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 horizons 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.

(c) The permittee shall replace and regrade the soil horizons or other root zone material with proper compaction and uniform depth. Excessive compaction shall be avoided.

(d) The permittee shall replace the B horizon, C horizon, or other suitable material specified in 4VAC25-130-823.12(c)(2) to the thickness needed to meet the requirements of Paragraph (b) of this section. 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 pre-mining capabilities.

(e) The permittee shall replace the topsoil or other suitable soil materials specified in 4VAC25-130-823.12(c)(1) as the final surface soil layer. This surface soil layer shall equal or exceed the thickness of the original surface soil layer, as determined by the soil survey.

Statutory Authority

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

Historical Notes

Derived from VR480-03-19 § 823.14, 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.

4VAC25-130-823.15. Revegetation and restoration of soil productivity.

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

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

(1) Measurement of soil productivity shall be initiated within 10 years after completion of soil replacement.

(2) 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 (b)(6) of this section. A statistically valid sampling technique at a 90-percent or greater statistical confidence level shall be used as approved by the division in consultation with the U. S. Natural Resources Conservation Service.

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

(4) The level of management applied during the measurement period shall be the same as the level of management used on nonmined prime farmland in the surrounding area.

(5) 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 nonmined soils of the same or similar texture or slope phase of the soil series in the surrounding area under equivalent management practices.

(6) The reference crop on which restoration of soil productivity is proven shall be selected from the crops most commonly produced on the surrounding prime farmland. 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.

(7) Reference crop yields for a given crop season are to be determined from--

(i) The current yield records of representative local farms in the surrounding area, with concurrence by the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service; or

(ii) The average county yields recognized by the U. S. Department of Agriculture, which have been adjusted by the U. S. Natural Resources Conservation Service for local yield variation within the county that is associated with differences between nonmined prime farmland soil and all other soils that produce the reference crop.

(8) Under either procedure in Paragraph (b)(7) of this section, the average reference crop yield may be adjusted, with the concurrence of the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, for--

(i) Disease, pest, and weather-induced seasonal variations; or

(ii) Differences in specific management practices where the overall management practices of the crops being compared are equivalent.

Statutory Authority

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

Historical Notes

Derived from VR480-03-19 § 823.15, 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.

Website addresses provided in the Virginia Administrative Code to documents incorporated by reference are for the reader's convenience only, may not necessarily be active or current, and should not be relied upon. To ensure the information incorporated by reference is accurate, the reader is encouraged to use the source document described in the regulation.

As a service to the public, the Virginia Administrative Code is provided online by the Virginia General Assembly. We are unable to answer legal questions or respond to requests for legal advice, including application of law to specific fact. To understand and protect your legal rights, you should consult an attorney.