78.44.020  <<  78.44.031 >>   78.44.040


Unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, the definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter.
(1) "Approved subsequent use" means the post surface-mining land use contained in an approved reclamation plan and approved by the local land use authority.
(2) "Completion of surface mining" means the cessation of mining and directly related activities in any segment of a surface mine that occurs when essentially all minerals that can be taken under the terms of the reclamation permit have been depleted except minerals required to accomplish reclamation according to the approved reclamation plan.
(3) "Department" means the department of natural resources.
(4) "Determination" means any action by the department including permit issuance, reporting, reclamation plan approval or modification, permit transfers, orders, fines, or refusal to issue permits.
(5) "Disturbed area" means any place where activities clearly in preparation for, or during, surface mining have physically disrupted, covered, compacted, moved, or otherwise altered the characteristics of soil, bedrock, vegetation, or topography that existed prior to such activity. Disturbed areas may include but are not limited to: Working faces, water bodies created by mine-related excavation, pit floors, the land beneath processing plant and stock pile sites, spoil pile sites, and equipment staging areas. Disturbed areas shall also include aboveground waste rock sites and tailing facilities, and other surface manifestations of underground mines.
Disturbed areas do not include:
(a) Surface mine access roads unless these have characteristics of topography, drainage, slope stability, or ownership that, in the opinion of the department, make reclamation necessary;
(b) Lands that have been reclaimed to all standards outlined in this chapter, rules of the department, any applicable SEPA document, and the approved reclamation plan; and
(c) Subsurface aspects of underground mines, such as portals, tunnels, shafts, pillars, and stopes.
(6) "Miner" means any person or persons, any partnership, limited partnership, or corporation, or any association of persons, including every public or governmental agency engaged in surface mining.
(7) "Minerals" means clay, coal, gravel, industrial minerals, metallic substances, peat, sand, stone, topsoil, and any other similar solid material or substance to be excavated from natural deposits on or in the earth for commercial, industrial, or construction use.
(8) "Operations" means all mine-related activities, exclusive of reclamation, that include, but are not limited to activities that affect noise generation, air quality, surface and ground water quality, quantity, and flow, glare, pollution, traffic safety, ground vibrations, and/or significant or substantial impacts commonly regulated under provisions of land use or other permits of local government and local ordinances, or other state laws.
Operations specifically include:
(a) The mining or extraction of rock, stone, gravel, sand, earth, and other minerals;
(b) Blasting, equipment maintenance, sorting, crushing, and loading;
(c) On-site mineral processing including asphalt or concrete batching, concrete recycling, and other aggregate recycling;
(d) Transporting minerals to and from the mine, on-site road maintenance, road maintenance for roads used extensively for surface mining activities, traffic safety, and traffic control.
(9) "Overburden" means the earth, rock, soil, and topsoil that lie above mineral deposits.
(10) "Permit holder" means any person or persons, any partnership, limited partnership, or corporation, or any association of persons, either natural or artificial, including every public or governmental agency engaged in surface mining and/or the operation of surface mines, whether individually, jointly, or through subsidiaries, agents, employees, operators, or contractors who holds a state reclamation permit.
(11) "Reclamation" means rehabilitation for the appropriate future use of disturbed areas resulting from surface mining including areas under associated mineral processing equipment, areas under stockpiled materials, and aboveground waste rock and tailing facilities, and all other surface disturbances associated with underground mines. Although both the need for and the practicability of reclamation will control the type and degree of reclamation in any specific surface mine, the basic objective shall be to reestablish on a perpetual basis the vegetative cover, soil stability, and water conditions appropriate to the approved subsequent use of the surface mine and to prevent or mitigate future environmental degradation.
(12) "Reclamation setbacks" include those lands along the margins of surface mines wherein minerals and overburden shall be preserved in sufficient volumes to accomplish reclamation according to the approved plan and the minimum reclamation standards. Maintenance of reclamation setbacks may not preclude other mine-related activities within the reclamation setback.
(13) "Recycling" means the reuse of minerals or rock products.
(14) "Screening" consists of vegetation, berms or other topography, fencing, and/or other screens that may be required to mitigate impacts of surface mining on adjacent properties and/or the environment.
(15) "Segment" means any portion of the surface mine that, in the opinion of the department:
(a) Has characteristics of topography, drainage, slope stability, ownership, mining development, or mineral distribution, that make reclamation necessary;
(b) Is not in use as part of surface mining and/or related activities; and
(c) Is larger than seven acres and has more than five hundred linear feet of working face except as provided in a segmental reclamation agreement approved by the department.
(16) "SEPA" means the state environmental policy act, chapter 43.21C RCW and rules adopted thereunder.
(17)(a) "Surface mine" means any area or areas in close proximity to each other, as determined by the department, where extraction of minerals results in:
(i) More than three acres of disturbed area;
(ii) Surface mined slopes greater than thirty feet high and steeper than 1.0 foot horizontal to 1.0 foot vertical; or
(iii) More than one acre of disturbed area within an eight acre area, when the disturbed area results from mineral prospecting or exploration activities.
(b) Surface mines include areas where mineral extraction from the surface or subsurface occurs by the auger method or by reworking mine refuse or tailings, when the disturbed area exceeds the size or height thresholds listed in (a) of this subsection.
(c) Surface mining occurs when operations have created or are intended to create a surface mine as defined by this subsection.
(d) Surface mining shall exclude excavations or grading used:
(i) Primarily for on-site construction, on-site road maintenance, or on-site landfill construction;
(ii) For the purpose of public safety or restoring the land following a natural disaster;
(iii) For the purpose of removing stockpiles;
(iv) For forest or farm road construction or maintenance on-site or on contiguous lands;
(v) Primarily for public works projects if the mines are owned or primarily operated by counties with 1993 populations of less than twenty thousand persons, and if each mine has less than seven acres of disturbed area; and
(vi) For sand authorized by RCW 79A.05.630.
(18) "Topsoil" means the naturally occurring upper part of a soil profile, including the soil horizon that is rich in humus and capable of supporting vegetation together with other sediments within four vertical feet of the ground surface.


Severability1999 c 252: "If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected." [ 1999 c 252 § 3.]
CaptionsSeverabilityEffective date1993 c 518: See notes following RCW 78.44.010.
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