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DOL/MSHA RIN: 1219-AB70 Publication ID: Spring 2010
Title: Metal and Nonmetal Dams
Abstract: Nearly 2,000 impoundments exist at metal and nonmetal mines. Impoundment failures can endanger lives and damage property. MSHA will issue an advance notice of proposed rulemaking requesting information about proper design, construction, operation and maintenance of impoundments at metal and nonmetal mines, as well as related safety issues for impoundments at metal and nonmetal mines.
Agency: Department of Labor(DOL) Priority: Other Significant
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Prerule Stage
Major: No Unfunded Mandates: Undetermined
CFR Citation: 30 CFR 56; 30 CFR 57 (To search for a specific CFR, visit the Code of Federal Regulations.)
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, 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, internal 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 United States. 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'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, and supports the Secretary of Labor's vision of good jobs for everyone.

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 injury, 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