Welcome to FindLaw's Cases & Codes, a free source of state and federal court opinions, state laws, and the United States Code. For more information about the legal concepts addressed by these cases and statutes, visit FindLaw's Learn About the Law.
(a) No person or municipality shall operate a mine or allow a discharge from a mine into the waters of the Commonwealth unless such operation or discharge is authorized by the rules and regulations of the department or such person or municipality has first obtained a permit from the department. Operation of the mine shall include preparatory work in connection with the opening or reopening of a mine, refuse disposal, backfilling, sealing, and other closing procedures, and any other work done on land or water in connection with the mine. A discharge from a mine shall include a discharge which occurs after mining operations have ceased, provided that the mining operations were conducted subsequent to January 1, 1966, under circumstances requiring a permit from the Sanitary Water Board under the provisions of section 315(b) of this act as it existed under the amendatory act of August 23, 1965 (P.L. 372, No. 194). The operation of any mine or the allowing of any discharge without a permit or contrary to the terms or conditions of a permit or contrary to the rules and regulations of the department, is hereby declared to be a nuisance. Whenever a permit is requested to be issued pursuant to this subsection, and such permit is requested for permission to operate any mining operations, the city, borough, incorporated town or township in which the operation is to be conducted shall be notified by registered mail of the request, at least ten days before the issuance of the permit or before a hearing on the issuance, whichever is first.
(b) The department may require an applicant for a permit to operate a mine, or a permittee holding a permit to operate a mine under the provisions of this section, to post a bond or bonds on forms prescribed and furnished by the department in favor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and with good and sufficient collateral, irrevocable bank letters of credit or corporate surety guarantees acceptable to the department to insure that there will be compliance with the law, the rules and regulations of the department, and the provisions and conditions of such permit including but not limited to conditions pertaining to restoration measures or other provisions insuring that there will be no polluting discharge after mining operations have ceased. The department shall establish the amount of the bond required for each operation based on the cost to the Commonwealth of taking corrective measures in cases of the operator's failure to comply, or in such other amount and form as may be established by the department pursuant to regulations for an alternate coal bonding program which shall achieve the objectives and purposes of the bonding program. The department may, from time to time, increase or decrease such amount: Provided, however, That no bond shall be filed for less than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for the entire permit area. The department shall also establish the duration of the bond required for each operation and at the minimum liability under each bond shall continue until such time as the department determines that there is no further significant risk of a pollutional discharge. The bond shall be conditioned upon the operator's faithful performance of the requirements of this act, the act of November 26, 1978 (P.L. 1375, No. 325), known as the “Dam Safety and Encroachments Act,” 1 the act of May 31, 1945 (P.L. 1198, No. 418), known as the “Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Act,” 2 the act of January 8, 1960 (1959 P.L. 2119, No. 787), known as the “Air Pollution Control Act,” 3 the act of September 24, 1968 (P.L. 1040, No. 318), known as the “Coal Refuse Disposal Control Act,” 4 and where applicable of the act of July 31, 1968 (P.L. 788, No. 241), known as the “Pennsylvania Solid Waste Management Act” 5 or the act of July 7, 1980 (No. 97), known as the “Solid Waste Management Act” 6: Provided, however, That an operator posting a bond sufficient to comply with this section of the act shall not be required to post a separate bond for the permitted area under each of the acts hereinabove enumerated: And provided further, That the foregoing proviso shall not prohibit the department from requiring additional bond amounts for the permitted area should such an increase be determined by the department to be necessary to meet the requirements of this act. Where the minerals are to be removed by the underground mining method, and the mining operations are reasonably anticipated to continue for a period of at least ten years from the date of application, the operator may elect to deposit collateral and file a collateral bond as provided in this subsection according to the following phased deposit schedule. The operator shall, prior to commencing mining operations, deposit ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or twenty-five per cent of the amount of bond determined under this subsection, whichever is greater. The operator shall, thereafter, annually deposit ten per cent of the remaining bond amount for a period of ten years. Interest accumulated by such collateral shall become part of the bond. The department may require additional bonding at any time to meet the intent of this subsection. The collateral shall be deposited, in trust, with the State Treasurer as provided in this subsection, or with a bank, selected by the department, which shall act as trustee for the benefit of the Commonwealth, according to rules and regulations promulgated hereunder, to guarantee the operator's compliance with this act and the acts hereinabove enumerated. The operator shall be required to pay all costs of the trust. The collateral deposit, or part thereof, shall be released of liability and returned to the operator, together with a proportional share of accumulated interest, upon the conditions of and pursuant to the schedule and criteria for release provided for in rules and regulations promulgated hereunder. Upon the completion of any mining operation and prior to the release by the department of any portion of the bond liability, the operator shall remove and clean up all temporary materials, property, debris or junk which were used in or resulted from his mining operations. The failure to post a bond required by the department shall be sufficient cause for withholding a permit or for the suspension or revocation of an existing permit. If the operator fails or refuses to comply with the requirements of the act in any respect for which liability has been charged on the bond, the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Resources 7 shall declare the bond forfeited, and shall certify the same to the Attorney General, who shall proceed to enforce and collect the amount of liability forfeited thereon, and where the operator has deposited cash or securities as collateral in lieu of a corporate surety, the secretary shall declare said collateral forfeited. If the operator is or was engaged in surface mining operations at the time of the violation, the secretary shall direct the State Treasurer to pay said funds into the Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Fund, or to proceed to sell said securities to the extent forfeited and pay the proceeds thereof into the Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Fund. If the operator is or was engaged in the operation of a deep mine at the time of the violation, the secretary shall direct the State Treasurer to pay said funds into The Clean Water Fund, or to proceed to sell said securities to the extent forfeited and pay the proceeds thereof into The Clean Water Fund. Should any corporate surety fail to promptly pay, in full, a forfeited bond, it shall be disqualified from writing any further bonds under this act. Any operator aggrieved by reason of forfeiting the bond or converting collateral, as herein provided, shall have a right to appeal such action to the Environmental Hearing Board.
The department, in its discretion, may accept a self-bond from the permittee, without separate surety, if the permittee demonstrates to the satisfaction of the department a history of financial solvency, continuous business operation and continuous efforts to achieve compliance with all United States of America and Pennsylvania environmental laws, and, meets all of the following requirements:
(1) The permittee shall be incorporated or authorized to do business in Pennsylvania and shall designate an agent in Pennsylvania to receive service of suits, claims, demands or other legal process.
(2) The permittee or if the permittee does not issue separate audited financial statements, its parent, shall provide audited financial statements for at least its most recent three fiscal years prepared by a certified public accountant in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. Upon request of the permittee, the department shall maintain the confidentiality of such financial statements if the same are not otherwise disclosed to other government agencies or the public.
(3) During the last thirty-six calendar months, the applicant has not defaulted in the payment of any dividend or sinking fund installment or preferred stock or installment on any indebtedness for borrowed money or payment of rentals under long-term leases or any reclamation fee payment currently due under the Federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, 30 U.S.C. § 1232, for each ton of coal produced in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
(4) The permittee shall have been in business and operating no less than ten years prior to filing of application unless the permittee's existence results from a reorganization, consolidation or merger involving a company with such longevity. However, the permittee shall be deemed to have met this requirement if it is a majority-owned subsidiary of a corporation which has such a ten-year business history.
(5) The permittee shall have a net worth of at least six times the aggregate amount of all bonds applied for by the operator under this section.
(6) The permittee shall give immediate notice to the department of any significant change in managing control of the company.
(7) A corporate officer of the permittee shall certify to the department that forfeiture of the aggregate amounts of self-bonds furnished for all operations hereunder would not materially affect the permittee's ability to remain in business or endanger its cash flow to the extent it could not meet its current obligations.
(8) The permittee may be required by the department to pledge real and personal property to guarantee the permittee's self-bond. The department is authorized to acquire and dispose of such property in the event of a default to the bond obligation and may use the moneys in The Clean Water Fund to administer this provision.
(9) The permittee may be required to provide third party guarantees or indemnifications of its self-bond obligations.
(10) The permittee shall provide such other information regarding its financial solvency, continuous business operation and compliance with environmental laws as the department shall require.
(11) An applicant shall certify to the department its present intention to maintain its present corporate status for a period in excess of five years.
(12) A permittee shall annually update the certifications required hereunder and provide audited financial statements for each fiscal year during which it furnishes self-bonds.
(13) The permittee shall pay an annual fee in the amount determined by the department of the cost to review and verify the permittee's application for self-bonding and annual submissions thereafter.
(c) The application for a permit to operate a mine shall include a determination of the probable hydrologic consequences of the operation, both on and off the site of the operation, with respect to the hydrologic regime, quantity and quality of water in surface and ground water systems including the dissolved and suspended solids under seasonal flow conditions and the collection of sufficient data for the site of the operations and surrounding areas so that an assessment can be made by the department of the probable cumulative impacts of all anticipated mining in the area upon the hydrology of the area and particularly upon water availability: Provided, however, That this determination shall not be required until such time as hydrologic information on the general area prior to mining is made available from an appropriate Federal or State agency: And provided further, That the permit shall not be approved until such information is available and is incorporated into the application.
(d) The operator of a mine shall restore the recharge capacity of the area of the operation to approximate pre-mining conditions.
(e) The application shall also demonstrate that the proposed operation will be conducted so as to maximize the utilization and conservation of the solid fuel resource being recovered so that reaffecting the land in the future can be minimized: Provided, however, That such resource utilization and conservation shall not excuse the operator from complying in full with all environmental protection and health and safety standards.
(f) The application shall also set forth the manner in which the operator plans to comply with the requirements of the act of November 26, 1978 (P.L. 1375, No. 325), known as the “Dam Safety and Encroachments Act,” the act of May 31, 1945 (P.L. 1198, No. 418), known as the “Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Act,” the act of January 8, 1960 (1959 P.L. 2119, No. 787), known as the “Air Pollution Control Act,” the act of September 24, 1968 (P.L. 1040, No. 318), known as the “Coal Refuse Disposal Control Act,” and where applicable of the act of July 31, 1968 (P.L. 788, No. 241), known as the “Pennsylvania Solid Waste Management Act” or the act of July 7, 1980 (No. 97), known as the “Solid Waste Management Act.” No approval shall be granted unless the plan provides for compliance with the statutes hereinabove enumerated, and failure to comply with the statutes hereinabove enumerated during mining or thereafter shall render the operator liable to the sanctions and penalties provided in this act for violations of this act and to the sanctions and penalties provided in the statutes hereinabove enumerated for violations of such statutes. Such failure to comply shall be cause for revocation of any approval or permit issued by the department to the operator: Provided, however, That a violation of the statutes hereinabove enumerated shall not be deemed a violation of this statute unless this statute's provisions are violated, but shall only be cause for revocation of the operator's permit: And provided further, That nothing in this subsection shall be read to limit the department's authority to regulate activities in a coordinated manner. Compliance with the provisions of this subsection and with the provisions of this act and the provisions of the statutes hereinabove enumerated shall not relieve the operator of the responsibility of complying with the provisions of all other applicable statutes, including but not limited to the act of July 17, 1961 (P.L. 659, No. 339), known as the “Pennsylvania Bituminous Coal Mine Act,” 8 the act of November 10, 1965 (P.L. 721, No. 346), known as the “Pennsylvania Anthracite Coal Mine Act,” 9 and the act of July 9, 1976 (P.L. 931, No. 178), entitled “An act providing for emergency medical personnel; employment of emergency medical personnel and emergency communications in coal mines.” [FN10]
(g) The application for a permit shall include, upon a form prepared and furnished by the department, the written consent of the landowner to entry upon any land to be affected by the operation of the operator and by the Commonwealth and by any of its authorized agents prior to the initiation of mining operations, during mining operations, and for a period of five years after the operation is completed or abandoned for the purpose of reclamation, planting and inspection or for the construction of any such pollution abatement facilities as may be deemed necessary by the department for the prevention of pollution from mine drainage. Such forms shall be deemed to be recordable documents, and prior to the initiation of mining operations under the permit, such forms shall be recorded at the office of the recorder of deeds in the county or counties in which the area to be affected under the permit is situate.
(h) Pursuant to the procedures set forth in subsection (b), the department shall designate an area as unsuitable for all or certain types of surface mining operations, as such operations are defined in section 3 of the act of May 31, 1945 (P.L. 1198, No. 418), known as the “Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Act,” [FN11] if the department determines that reclamation pursuant to the requirements of this act is not technologically and economically feasible.
(i) Pursuant to the procedures set forth in subsection (m), the department may designate an area as unsuitable for certain types of mining operations if such operations will:
(1) be incompatible with existing State or local land use plans or programs;
(2) affect fragile or historic lands in which such operations could result in significant damage to important historic, cultural, scientific and esthetic values and natural systems;
(3) affect renewable resource lands in which such operations could result in a substantial loss or reduction of long-range productivity of water supply or of food or fiber products, and such lands to include aquifers and aquifer recharge areas; or
(4) affect natural hazard lands in which such operations could substantially endanger life and property, such lands to include areas subject to frequent flooding and areas of unstable geology.
(j) The department shall forthwith develop a process to meet the requirements of this act. This process shall include:
(1) review by the department of coal mining lands;
(2) a data base and an inventory system which will permit proper evaluation of the capacity of different land areas of the State to support and permit reclamation of mining operations;
(3) a method or methods for implementing land use planning decisions concerning mining operations; and
(4) proper notice, opportunities for public participation, including a public hearing prior to making any designation or redesignation, pursuant to this section.
(k) Determinations of the unsuitability of land for mining, as provided for in this section, shall be integrated as closely as possible with present and future land use planning and regulation processes at the Federal, State and local levels.
(l) The requirements of this section shall not apply to lands on which mining operations are being conducted on August 3, 1977, or under a permit issued pursuant to this act, or where substantial legal and financial commitments as they are defined under § 522 of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (30 U.S.C. § 1201 et seq.), in such operation were in existence prior to January 4, 1977.
(m) Any person having an interest which is or may be adversely affected shall have the right to petition the department to have an area designated as unsuitable for mining operations, or to have such a designation terminated. Pursuant to the procedure set forth in this section, the department may initiate proceedings seeking to have an area designated as unsuitable for mining operations, or to have such a designation terminated. Such a petition shall contain allegations of facts with supporting evidence which would tend to establish the allegations. Within ten months after receipt of the petition the department shall hold a public hearing in the locality of the affected area, after appropriate notice and publication of the date, time and location of such hearing. After a person having an interest which is or may be adversely affected has filed a petition and before the hearing, as required by this section, any person may intervene by filing allegations of facts with supporting evidence which would tend to establish the allegations. Within sixty days after such hearing, the department shall issue and furnish to the petitioner and any other party to the hearing, a written decision regarding the petition, and the reasons therefor. In the event that all the petitioners stipulate agreement prior to the requested hearing, and withdraw their request, such hearing need not be held.
(n) Prior to designating any land areas as unsuitable for mining operations, the department shall prepare a detailed statement on:
(1) the potential coal resources of the area;
(2) the demand for coal resources; and
(3) the impact of such designation on the environment, the economy and the supply of coal.
(o) Subject to valid existing rights as they are defined under § 522 of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (30 U.S.C. § 1201 et seq.), no mining operations except those which exist on August 3, 1977, shall be permitted:
(1) on any lands within the boundaries of units of the National Park System, the National Wildlife Refuge System, the National System of Trails, the National Wilderness Preservation System, the Wild and Scenic Rivers System, including study rivers designated under section 5(a) of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act [FN12] and National Recreation Areas designated by Act of Congress;
(2) on any Federal lands within the boundaries of any National forest: Provided, however, That surface mining operations may be permitted on such lands if the Department of Interior and the department find that there are no significant recreational, timber, economic or other values which may be incompatible with such surface mining operations and surface operations and the impacts are incident to an underground coal mine;
(3) which will adversely affect any publicly owned park or places included in the National Register of Historic Sites unless approved jointly by the department and the Federal, State or local agency with jurisdiction over the park or the historic site;
(4) within one hundred feet of the outside right-of-way line of any public road, except where mine access roads or haulage roads join such right-of-way line and except that the department may permit such roads to be relocated or the area affected to lie within one hundred feet of such road, if after public notice and opportunity for public hearing in the locality a written finding is made that the interests of the public and the landowners affected thereby will be protected; or
(5) within three hundred feet from any occupied dwelling, unless waived by the owner thereof, nor within three hundred feet of any public building, school, church, community, institutional building, or public park, nor within one hundred feet of a cemetery, nor within one hundred feet of the bank of a stream.
Cite this article: FindLaw.com - Pennsylvania Statutes Title 35 P.S. Health and Safety § 691.315. Operation of mines - last updated January 01, 2019 | https://codes.findlaw.com/pa/title-35-ps-health-and-safety/pa-st-sect-35-691-315.html
FindLaw Codes may not reflect the most recent version of the law in your jurisdiction. Please verify the status of the code you are researching with the state legislature or via Westlaw before relying on it for your legal needs.
Was this helpful?