Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 45.2. Mines, Minerals, and Energy
Chapter 10. Virginia Coal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1979

§ 45.2-1000. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Approximate original contour" means the surface configuration achieved by backfilling and grading the mined area so that the reclaimed area, including any terracing or access road, closely resembles the general surface configuration of the land prior to mining and blends into and complements the drainage pattern of the surrounding terrain, with all highwalls and spoil piles eliminated; water impoundments may be permitted where the Director determines that they are in compliance with the applicable performance standards adopted pursuant to this chapter.

"Coal surface mining and reclamation operation" means a surface mining operation and any activity necessary and incidental to the reclamation of such operation.

"Coal surface mining operation" means:

1. Any activity conducted on the surface of lands in connection with a surface coal mine or, subject to the requirements of § 45.2-1018, any surface operation and surface impact incident to an underground coal mine, the products of which enter commerce or the operation of which directly or indirectly affects interstate commerce. Such activity includes (i) excavation for the purpose of obtaining coal, including by such common methods as contour, strip, auger, mountaintop removal, box cut, open pit, and area mining; (ii) the use of explosives and blasting; (iii) in situ distillation or retorting, leaching, or other chemical or physical processing; and (iv) the cleaning, concentrating, or other processing or preparation and loading of coal for interstate commerce at or near the mine site. However, such activity does not include the extraction of coal incidental to the extraction of other minerals where coal does not exceed 16 and two-thirds percent of the tonnage of minerals removed for purposes of commercial use or sale, or coal exploration subject to § 45.2-1008; and

2. The area upon which such activity occurs or where such activity disturbs the natural land surface. Such area includes (i) any adjacent land whose use is incidental to any such activity; (ii) all lands affected by the construction of any new road or the improvement or use of any existing road to gain access to the site of such activity and for haulage; and (iii) any excavation, workings, impoundment, dam, ventilation shaft, entryway, refuse bank, dump, stockpile, overburden pile, spoil bank, culm bank, tailings, hole or depression, repair area, storage area, processing area, shipping area, and other area upon which is sited any structure, facility, or other property or materials on the surface, resulting from or incident to such activity.

"Division" means the Division of Mined Land Repurposing.

"Federal act" means the federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, P.L. 95-87, 91 U.S. Stat. 445.

"Imminent danger to the health and safety of the public" means the existence in a coal surface mining and reclamation operation of any condition, practice, or violation of a permit or other requirement of this chapter that could reasonably be expected to cause substantial physical harm to a person outside the permit area before such condition, practice, or violation can be abated. A reasonable expectation of substantial physical harm, including death or serious injury, before abatement exists if a rational person, subjected to the same condition or practice giving rise to the peril, would not expose himself to the danger during the time necessary for abatement.

"Operator" means any person engaging in a coal surface mining operation whether or not such coal is sold within the Commonwealth.

"Other minerals" means clay, stone, sand, gravel, metalliferous or nonmetalliferous ore, and any other solid material or substance of commercial value excavated in solid form from natural deposits on or in the earth, exclusive of coal and any mineral that occurs naturally in liquid or gaseous form.

"Permit" means a permit issued by the Director pursuant to state regulations.

"Permit area" means the area of land indicated on the approved map submitted by the operator with the operator's application. Such area of land shall be covered by the operator's bond as required by § 45.2-1016 and shall be readily identifiable by appropriate markers on the site.

"Permittee" means a person holding any of the following permits issued by the Director: (i) a permit for coal surface mining pursuant to § 45.2-1009, (ii) a permit for coal exploration pursuant to § 45.2-1008, or (iii) a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit pursuant to § 45.2-1029.

"Person" means any individual, partnership, association, joint venture, trust, company, firm, joint stock company, corporation, other group or combination acting as a unit, or other legal entity.

"Secretary" means the U.S. Secretary of the Interior.

"State or local agency" means any department, agency, or instrumentality of the Commonwealth; public authority, municipal corporation, local governmental unit, or political subdivision of the Commonwealth; or department, agency, or instrumentality of any public authority, municipal corporation, local governmental unit, or political subdivision of the Commonwealth; or two or more of any of the aforementioned.

"State regulations" means the permanent state regulatory program established by this chapter meeting the requirements of the federal act for the regulation of coal surface mining and reclamation operations within the Commonwealth, submitted to the Secretary pursuant to § 503 of the federal act.

"Unwarranted failure to comply" means the failure of a permittee to (i) prevent the occurrence of any violation of its permit or any requirement of this chapter due to indifference, lack of diligence, or lack of reasonable care or (ii) abate any violation of such permit or requirement of this chapter due to indifference, lack of diligence, or lack of reasonable care.

1979, c. 290, § 45.1-229; 1984, c. 590; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 387, 532.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.