TX NATURAL RESOURCES CODE

TITLE 3. OIL AND GAS

SUBTITLE A. ADMINISTRATION

CHAPTER 131. URANIUM SURFACE MINING AND RECLAMATION ACT

SUBCHAPTER C. PLANS AND STANDARDS



§ 131.101. RECLAMATION PLAN.
     (a) A reclamation plan shall be developed in a manner consistent with local, physical, environmental, and climatological conditions and current mining and reclamation technologies.
     (b) A reclamation plan submitted as part of a permit application shall include:
          (1) the identification of the entire area to be mined and affected over the estimated life of the mining operation;
          (2) the condition of the land to be covered by the permit prior to any mining, including:
               (A) the uses existing at the time of the application, and if the land has a history of previous mining, the uses, if reasonably ascertainable, that immediately preceded any mining; and
               (B) the capability of the land prior to any mining to support a variety of uses giving consideration to soil and foundation characteristics, topography, and vegetative cover;
          (3) the capacity of the land to support its anticipated use following reclamation, including a discussion of the capacity of the reclaimed land to support alternative uses;
          (4) a description of how the proposed postmining land condition is to be achieved and the necessary support activities that may be needed to achieve the condition, including an estimate of the cost per acre of the reclamation;
          (5) the steps taken to comply with applicable air and water quality and water rights laws and regulations and any applicable health and safety standards, including copies of any pertinent permit applications;
          (6) a general timetable that the operator estimates will be necessary for accomplishing the major events included in the reclamation plan; and
          (7) other information the commission, by rule, determines to be reasonably necessary to effectuate the purposes of this chapter.
     (c) The operator may revise or amend the reclamation plan at any time in accordance with the requirements of this code.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2616, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977.

§ 131.102. RECLAMATION STANDARDS.
     (a) A permit issued under this chapter to conduct surface mining operations shall require that the surface mining operations meet all applicable reclamation standards of this chapter and any other requirements that the commission establishes by rule.
     (b) Reclamation standards shall apply to all surface mining and reclamation operations that are not exempted or excluded and shall require the operator as a minimum to:
          (1) conduct surface mining operations in a manner consistent with prudent mining practice, so as to maximize the utilization and conservation of the resource being recovered so that reaffecting the land in the future through surface mining can be minimized;
          (2) restore the land affected to the same or a substantially beneficial condition considering the present and past uses of the land, so long as the condition does not present any actual or probable hazard to public health or safety or pose an actual or probable threat of water diminution or pollution, and the permit applicants' declared anticipated land use following reclamation is not considered to be impractical or unreasonable, to involve unreasonable delay in implementation, or to violate federal, state, or local law, provided that a variety of postmining land conditions that differ from the land condition immediately preceding the surface mining operation, including but not limited to stock ponds, fishing or recreational lakes, school or park sites, industrial, commercial, or residential sites, or open space uses, may be approved by the commission if the proposed condition is determined to be substantially beneficial and complies with the provisions of this section;
          (3) reduce all highwalls, spoil piles, and banks to a degree to control erosion effectively and sufficiently to sustain vegetation, where required, consistent with the anticipated subsequent use of the affected land, provided that backfilling, compacting, and grading shall be required to restore the approximate original contour where required by federal law and where the volume of overburden is large in comparison to the volume of mineral deposit and the commission considers the requirement to be practical;
          (4) stabilize and protect all surface areas affected by the mining and reclamation operation effectively to control erosion and attendant air and water pollution;
          (5) remove the topsoil, if any, from the land in a separate layer, replace it on the backfill area, or if not utilized immediately, segregate it in a separate pile from other spoil and when the topsoil is not replaced on a backfill area within a time short enough to avoid deterioration of the topsoil, maintain a successful cover by quick growing plants or other means so that the topsoil is preserved from wind and water erosion, remains free of any contamination by toxic material, and is in a usable condition for sustaining vegetation when restored during reclamation, except if topsoil is of insufficient quantity or of poor quality for sustaining vegetation and if other strata can be shown to be as suitable for vegetation requirements, then the operator shall remove, segregate, and preserve in a like manner the other strata which is best able to support vegetation, provided that the requirements of this provision shall not apply if a mixing of strata can be shown to be equally suitable for revegetation requirements;
          (6) replace the topsoil or the best available subsoil, if any, on top of the land to be reclaimed;
          (7) fill any auger holes with an impervious material in order to prevent drainage;
          (8) minimize the disturbances to the prevailing hydrologic balance at the mine site and in associated offsite areas and to the quality and quantity of water in surface and groundwater systems both during and after surface mining operations and during reclamation by:
               (A) avoiding toxic mine drainage by such measures as:
                    (i) preventing or removing water from contact with toxic-producing deposits,
                    (ii) treating drainage to reduce toxic content,
                    (iii) casing, sealing, or otherwise managing boreholes, shafts, and wells to keep toxic drainage from entering ground and surface water;
               (B) conducting surface mining operations in a manner to prevent unreasonable additional contributions of suspended solids to streamflow or runoff outside the permit area above natural levels under seasonal flow conditions;
               (C) removing temporary or large siltation structures from drainways consistent with good water conservation practices after disturbed areas are revegetated and stabilized; or
               (D) other actions as the commission may prescribe pursuant to its rules;
          (9) stabilize any waste piles;
          (10) refrain from surface mining in proximity to active and abandoned underground mines in which mining would cause breakthroughs or would endanger the health or safety of miners;
          (11) incorporate with respect to the use of impoundments for the disposal of mine wastes, processing wastes, or other liquid or solid wastes current engineering practices for the design and construction of water retention facilities which, at a minimum, shall be compatible with the requirements of Section 6.0731, Water Code, and applicable federal laws, ensure that leachate will not pollute surface or groundwater, and locate impoundments so as not to endanger public health and safety should failure occur;
          (12) ensure that all debris, toxic materials, or materials constituting a fire hazard are treated or disposed of in a manner designed to prevent contamination of ground or surface water or combustion;
          (13) ensure that any explosives are used only in accordance with existing state and federal law and rules promulgated by the commission;
          (14) ensure that all reclamation efforts proceed as contemporaneously as practicable with the surface mining operations;
          (15) ensure that construction, maintenance, and postmining conditions of access roads into and across the site of operations will minimize erosion and siltation, pollution of air and water, damage to fish or wildlife or their habitat, or public or private property, provided that the commission may permit the retention after mining of certain access roads if compatible with the approved reclamation plan;
          (16) refrain from the construction of roads or other access ways up a streambed or drainage channel or in proximity to such channel where such construction would seriously alter the normal flow of water;
          (17) establish on all affected land, where required in the approved reclamation plan, a diverse vegetative cover native to the affected land where vegetation existed prior to mining and capable of self-regeneration and plant succession equal in extent of cover to the natural vegetation of the area, except that introduced species may be used in the revegetation process where desirable or necessary to achieve the approved reclamation plan;
          (18) assume responsibility for successful revegetation for a period of four years beyond the first year in which the vegetation has been successfully established as evidenced by the land being used as anticipated in the reclamation plan;
          (19) ensure with respect to permanent impoundments of water as part of the approved reclamation plan that:
               (A) the size of the impoundment and the availability of water are adequate for its intended purpose;
               (B) the impoundment dam construction will meet the requirements of Section 6.0731, Water Code, and applicable federal laws;
               (C) the quality of impounded water will be suitable on a permanent basis for its intended use and the discharges from the impoundment will not degrade the water quality in the receiving stream;
               (D) final grading will provide adequate safety and access for anticipated water users; and
               (E) the water impoundments will not result in the diminution of the quality or quantity of water utilized by adjacent or surrounding landowners for agricultural, industrial, recreational, or domestic uses; and
          (20) meet other criteria pursuant to the commission's rules as are necessary to achieve reclamation in accordance with the purposes of this chapter, taking into consideration the physical, climatological, and other characteristics of the site.
     (c) The purpose of this section is to have land affected restored to the same condition as the land that existed enjoyed before the mining or some substantially beneficial condition.
     (d) A method of reclamation other than that provided in this section may be approved by the commission after public hearing if the commission determines that any method of reclamation required by this section is not practical and that the alternative method will provide for the affected land to be restored to a substantially beneficial condition.
     (e) If an alternative method of reclamation is generally applicable to all surface mining operations involving a particular mineral, the commission shall promulgate rules in the manner provided in Section 131.033 of this code.
     (f) The operator is entitled to access to the land affected to the extent necessary to carry out the reclamation and maintenance required under this chapter.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2616, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977. Amended by Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 305, ch. 141, § 40, eff. May 9, 1979; Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 850, ch. 379, § 2, eff. June 6, 1979.