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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 27, 2004.


Send comments to Melissa Stoehr, Acting Chief, Records Management Branch, 1100 Wilson Boulevard, Room 2134, Arlington, VA 22209-3939. Commenters are encouraged to send their comments on computer disk, or via e-mail to Ms. Stoehr can be reached at (202) 693-9837 (voice), or (202) 693-9801 (facsimile).

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Contact the employee listed in the ADDRESSES section of this notice.

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I. Background

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 Start Printed Page 62723standards 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 requirement related to the Refuse Piles and Impoundment Structures, Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements. MSHA is particularly interested in comments that:

* Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of MSHA's functions, including whether the information has practical utility;

* Evaluate the accuracy of MSHA's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

* Suggest methods to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and

* Address the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, (e.g., permitting electronic submissions of responses) to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond.

A copy of the proposed information collection request can be obtained by contacting the employee listed in the ADDRESSES section of this notice or viewed on the Internet by accessing the MSHA home page ( and then choosing “Statutory and Regulatory Information” and “Federal Register Documents.”

III. Current Actions

There are approximately 740 coal mine impounding structures and 30 hazardous refuse piles, for a total of 770 sites. 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 Recordkeeping.

OMB Number: 1219-0015.

Recordkeeping: 3 years.

Frequency: Annually and 17 times a year.

Affected Public: Business or other for profit.

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

Total Respondents: 770.

Total Responses: 12,885.

Average Time Per Response: 8 hours.

Estimated Total Burden Hours: 96,432.

Total Annualized Capital/Startup Costs: $0.

Total Operating and Maintenance Costs: $0.

Total Burden Cost (Capital/Startup): None.

Total Burden Cost (Operating/Maintaining): None.

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 at Arlington, Virginia, this 19th day of October, 2004.

David L. Meyer,

Director, Office of Administration and Management.

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[FR Doc. 04-24046 Filed 10-26-04; 8:45 am]