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Proposed Information Collection Request Submitted for Public Comment and Recommendations; Refuse Piles and Impounding Structures, Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements

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The Department of Labor, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden conducts a preclearance consultation program to provide the general public and Federal agencies with an opportunity to comment on proposed and/or containing collections of information in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA95) [44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)]. This program helps to ensure that requested data can be provided in the desired format, reporting burden (time and financial resources) is minimized, collection instruments are clearly understood, and the impact of collection requirements on respondents can be properly assessed.


Submit comments on or before December 24, 2001.


Send comments to Gordon J. Burke, Jr., Director, Administration and Management, 4015 Wilson Boulevard, Room 615, Arlington, VA 22203-1984. Commenters are encouraged to send their comments on a computer disk, or via Internet E-mail to, along with an original printed copy. Mr. Burke can be reached at (703) 235-13830 (voice), or (703) 235-1563 (facsimile).

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Charlene N. Barnard, Regulatory Specialist, Records Management Division, U.S. Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration, Room 725, 4015 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22203-1984. Ms. Barnard can be reached at (Internet E-mail), (703) 235-1470 (voice), or (703) 235-1563 facsimile).

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I. Backgound

The Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 was amended by the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 after the Buffalo Creek dam failure in 1972 in West Virginia. The refuse pile and impound standards, Title 30 CFR sections 77.215 and 77.216 had been enacted earlier in 1975 and were incorporated into the Act. Additional parts of these Sections were promulgated and enacted in 1992.

The standards require that the agency approve prudently engineered design plans for dams and their impoundments, as well as the plans for hazardous refuse piles that are routinely constructed by coal mine operators. Plan revisions are also required to be submitted for approval. In addition, the standards also require plans when one of these sites is to be abandoned. And plans are required when spontaneous fires erupt and need to be extinguished at the burning site. Records of weekly inspections and instrument monitoring are also required to ensure that the sites remain safe. Finally, the mine operators are also required to submit an annual status report and certification that guarantees that the site is being constructed in accordance with the approved plan, and the site has not been altered during the construction year.

II. Desired Focus of Comments

Currently, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is soliciting comments concerning the proposed extension of the information collection related to Refuse Piles and Impound Structures, Recordkeeping and Start Printed Page 53810Reporting Requirements. MSHA is particularly interested in comments which:

  • Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;
  • Evaluate the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;
  • Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and
  • Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.

A copy of the proposed information collection request may be viewed on the Internet by accessing the MSHA homepage ( and selecting “Statutory and Regulatory Information” then “Paperwork Reduction Act submission (​regspwork.htm)”, or by contacting the employee listed above in the For Further Information Contact section of this notice for a hard copy.

III. Current Actions

There are approximately 750 coal mine impounding structures, of which at least 250 are high-hazard sites. In addition, there are hundreds of refuse piles, and of these, it is estimated that 25 are hazardous. All impoundments and hazardous refuse piles are required by the standards to be constructed and operated in an approved manner. In addition, coal mine operators frequently revise construction plans to accommodate mining conditions, cycles or markets. Since these revisions to the structures can adversely affect a great number of people, such changes are required to be planned in a prudent manner and approved by the agency.

Fire extinguishing plans are only required from an operator when a spontaneous combustion has occurred, and the operator is directed to extinguish the fire.

Inspections on a weekly basis, or inspections at a longer interval for long-established and stable impoundments (after the regulation changes in 1992), are required to ensure that precipitation, seismic activity, or perhaps an unknown construction flaw, has not adversely affected any part of the dam site. The annual status report and certification ensures that the company's engineers confirm that the site is in accordance with the approved engineering plan.

An abandonment plan approved by the agency, ensures that a hazardous site is not left in place after all mining activity has ceased.

Type of Review: Extension.

Agency: Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Title: Impounding Safety and Refuse Piles, Reporting Requirements, Certifications and Record keeping.

OMB Number: 1219-0015.

Record keeping: 3 years.

Affected Public: Business or other for-profit.

Cite/Reference/Form/etc: 30 CFR Sections 77.215 and 77.216.

Total Burden Cost (capital/startup): None.

Total Burden Cost (operating/maintaining): None.

Cite/referenceTotal respondentsFrequencyTotal responsesAverage time per response (in hours)Burden hours
77.215 New Refuse Piles50Annually5016800
Fire Ext. Plans1Annually144
Abandonment Plans25Annually258200
77.16 New Impoundments50Annually501,30065,000
Annual Certification115Annually1152230
Inspections w/monitoring Instruments285On Occasion4,845314,535
w/o Monitoring Instruments426On Occasion7,242214,484

Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized and/or included in the request for Office of Management and Budget approval of the information collection request; they will also become a matter of public record.

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Dated: October 17, 2001.

Gordon J. Burke, Jr.,

Director, Administration and Management.

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[FR Doc. 01-26738 Filed 10-23-01; 8:45 am]