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Soils and Geological Resources (including Seismicity and Geological Hazards) Mitigation Measures

Mitigation measures to avoid or reduce impacts to soils and geological resources from coal mining.

The following are examples of mitigation measures that could be applied to reduce soils and geological resource impacts of a project depending upon site- and project-specific conditions. Impacts to soils and geological resources are related to the project footprint (e.g., land disturbance, erosion) and the extraction of raw materials for project use. Many impacts can be reduced or avoided when considered during the siting and design phase.

Develop a final set of mitigation measures for any project in consultation with the appropriate federal resource management agencies and stakeholders. Conduct these consultations early in the project development process and preferably prior to final project siting and design.

Siting and Design Mitigation Measures

  • Identify unstable slopes and local factors that can cause slope instability (groundwater conditions, precipitation, seismic activity, slope angles, and geologic structure).
  • Minimize the planned amount of land to be disturbed as much as possible. Existing roads and borrow pits and quarries should be used to obtain aggregate materials for surfacing roads and equipment staging areas. Minimize vegetation removal.
  • Place access roads to follow natural topography, and avoid or minimize side hill cuts. New roads should avoid going straight up grades in excess of 10%. Design roads with eventual reclamation in mind.
  • Design runoff control features to minimize soil erosion.
  • Use special construction techniques in areas of steep slopes, erodible soils, and stream crossings.

General Mitigation Measures

General mitigation practices and principles that could apply to any or all phases of a coal mine project include:

  • Save topsoil removed at the start of the project and use it to reclaim disturbed areas upon completion of mining activities.
  • Reclaim or apply protective covering on disturbed soils as quickly as possible.
  • Apply erosion controls relative to possible soil erosion from vehicular traffic and during mining activities (e.g., jute netting, silt fences, and check dams).
  • Avoid creating excessive slopes during excavation and blasting operations.
  • Dispose of excess excavation materials in approved areas to control erosion and minimize leaching of hazardous materials.
  • Clean and maintain catch basins, drainage ditches, and culverts regularly.
  • Reestablish the original grade and drainage pattern to the extent practicable.
  • Stabilize all areas of disturbed soil using weed-free native shrubs, grasses, and forbs.
  • Backfill or recontour strip-mined or contour-mined areas, any foundations, and trenches, preferably with excess excavation material generated during construction.
  • Obtain borrow material from authorized and permitted sites.