A REHABILITATION PLAN
ABANDONED MINE RECLAMATION
A Rehabilitation Plan for abandoned mine reclamation should contain certain key elements. These elements are important whether the concern is mine fire control, mine subsidence prevention, mine hazard removal or mine drainage abatement. The elements are inter-related with information from one element feeding the others.
The development of rehabilitation plans is an evolutionary process. Plans begin with a vision and move forward through the initiative, commitment and perseverance of the involved partners. It is not something that can be put together in a week or month. In the beginning, the content of the plan and each element in the plan may be more conceptual than real. As work is completed, the focus will become clearer and the plan will take on some substance.
A Rehabilitation Plan should include the following elements:
- A Manageable Area. Whatever the mining problem being addressed, the selected area must be manageable from both the standpoint of implementation and of achieving the purpose of the plan. Each kind of mining problem will have different means for determining what is a manageable area. In general, a manageable area is one in which rehabilitation can occur within a reasonable time, at a reasonable cost and achieve defined goals
Acid Mine Drainage Abatement - For acid mine drainage abatement, the purpose is to restore the surface water quality and quantity to their pre-mining, natural condition. The degree of pollution, the resources available to develop a plan and the potential for restoring stream uses are important factors in selecting a manageable area. Large drainage basins may have to be divided into smaller units and addressed as separate areas to insure manageability.
Water Supply Replacement -- For water line replacement, the purpose is to restore safe drinking water to those whose water was contaminated or diminished due to mining. The number of people, the availability of a safe source, the distance between homes, the boundaries of public utility service areas are important.
Mine Hazards -- For mine hazards, the purpose is to remove a threat to human health or safety. The size of the hazard, the proximity to habitation, and the risk to people are important.
- Problem Definition. The abandoned mine land problems within the "manageable area" should be identified and assessed as completely as possible.
Acid Mine Drainage Abatement -- For acid mine drainage abatement, all sources of pollution should be considered including mine related, sewage, agricultural, other point and non-point sources. Water quality and quantity data from the pollution sources and the stream should be used to identify, assess and prioritize the problem. Biological surveys of the streams would be needed for use of funds from the 10% set-aside program. Much of this information is available from the Department of Environmental Protection, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and other state and federal agencies.
Water Supply Replacement -- For replacements, the number of people without water, their present means for obtaining water and the health risk of being without water should be determined.
Mine Hazards-- For hazards, the risk to people should be thoroughly described. Factors such as proximity of the problem to occupied dwellings, accessibility to the problem area by the public and the history of deaths or injury should be detailed.
- Goals. Goals must be reasonable and achievable. There should be a deadline for achieving the established goals. The time schedule will be used to develop the financing plan. Goals can be short-term and/or long-term. The benefits to be gained by achieving the goals should be thoroughly discussed
Acid Mine Drainage Abatement -- In general, the goal for acid mine drainage abatement should be to restore the uses of the streams in the watershed. A goal to merely improve water quality may be achievable but not be reasonable if the improvement does not restore stream uses. Raising the pH of a stream from 3.0 to 5.0 may be achievable but if the stream uses are not restored has any benefit accrued in the area of concern? Similarly, a goal to restore stream uses may be reasonable but not be achievable because a source of pollution is too large to be abated or treated within a reasonable cost or reasonable time.
Water Supply Replacement -- The goal for water replacement should be to provide potable water to people whose supplies have been impacted by past mining activity.
Mine Hazards -- The goal for mine hazards is to eliminate a threat to public safety and health. The risk to the public as measured by the physical conditions at the site, the proximity of the site to people and the costs should be considered in establishing a goal.
- Solutions. Technical alternatives for addressing the problems, including the costs, must be considered. The alternatives should identify both conventional technologies and innovative technologies that reduce the cost of reclamation. The pros and cons of the alternatives should be discussed. The recommended solution should be the one that best achieves the goals at the least cost.
- Financing. A plan for paying for the recommended solution is essential to showing that the goals are achievable. The financing plan should include all sources of funding such as grants, in-kind services, donations of material or equipment, available cash, etc.
The financing plan should identify the partners in the project, their contribution and any agreements that commit the partners to funding the project.
The financing plan should address each project within the plan, its schedule for completion, its capital costs and its annual operation and maintenance costs.
- Implementation. A strategy for implementing the rehabilitation plan is essential. It should identify who--will do what--by when. It should address all of the elements listed above and be as detailed as necessary to insure the work will get done. The implementation strategy need not be completed when work begins but it should address each element to some degree. It will evolve as work progresses so that at some point in time, it will be clear as to who-will do what-- by when.
- Measures of Success. The rehabilitation plan should identify measures for determining if the plan has been successful. Have the goals been achieved? Are partnerships flourishing? Has the funding occurred as proposed? The measures should be monitored during the life of the plan and a periodic status report prepared.
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