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DOL/MSHA RIN: 1219-AB70 Publication ID: Fall 2009 
Title: ●Metal and Nonmetal Impoundments 
Abstract: Water, sediment, and slurry impoundments for metal and nonmetal mining and milling operations are located throughout the country. Some of these impoundments would impact homes, well-traveled roads, and other important infrastructure if they were to fail. Impoundment failures could endanger lives and cause property damage. MSHA will issue an advance notice of proposed rulemaking to solicit information relative to proper design, construction, operation, maintenance, and other safety issues for impoundments at metal and nonmetal mines whose failure could cause loss of life or significant property damage. 
Agency: Department of Labor(DOL)  Priority: Other Significant 
RIN Status: First time published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Prerule Stage 
Major: No  Unfunded Mandates: Undetermined 
CFR Citation: 30 CFR 56    30 CFR 57   
Legal Authority: 30 USC 811    30 USC 812   
Legal Deadline:  None

Statement of Need: Mining operations regularly find it necessary to construct dams to dispose of large volumes of mine waste (tailings or slurry) from processing operations, or to provide water supply, sediment control, or water treatment. Impoundments are structures that are used to impound water, sediment, or slurry or any combination of materials. Dams that form impoundments must be designed to be stable under the various conditions they will be subjected to, including runoff from rainfall, seepage, and possibly earthquake shaking. The failure of these structures can have a devastating effect on both the mine and nearby communities. Every two years since 1980, a report has been prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and sent to Congress on the status of dam safety in the U.S. These reports are required by a 1979 Presidential Memorandum which directed the Federal agencies responsible for dams to adopt and implement the Federal Guidelines for Dam Safety. MSHA has been criticized in these biennial reports for its lack of regulation of metal and nonmetal dams. MSHA’s Metal and Nonmetal standards do not provide sufficient guidance to determine what is needed to effectively design and construct dams with high or significant hazard potential. The Metal and Nonmetal standards need to more effectively address requirements for dam design, construction, operation and maintenance.

Summary of the Legal Basis: Promulgation of this regulation is authorized by the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 as amended by the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006.

Alternatives: MSHA is considering amendments, revisions, and additions to existing standards.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits: MSHA will develop a preliminary regulatory economic analysis to accompany any proposed rule that may be developed.

Risks: The failure of impoundments can have a devastating affect on both the mine and nearby communities by causing loss of life and property damage.

Action Date FR Cite
ANPRM  06/00/2010    
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Undetermined  Government Levels Affected: None 
Small Entities Affected: Businesses  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
Patricia W. Silvey
Director, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances
Department of Labor
Mine Safety and Health Administration
1100 Wilson Boulevard, Room 2350,
Arlington, VA 22209-3939
Phone:202 693-9440
Fax:202 693-9441

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