U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20240
September 8, 2008
In Reply Refer To:
3720 (280) P
EMS TRANSMISSION 09/16/2008
Instruction Memorandum No. 2008-190
To: All Field Officials
Subject: Ensuring Compliance with all Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Program Policies and Procedures
Program Area: Abandoned Mine Lands
Purpose: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) reinforces current AML policies and procedures including requirements to: (1) identify and report AML sites and hazards; and (2) implement immediate temporary or permanent measures to mitigate known dangerous sites.
Policy/Action: All Bureau of Land Management (BLM) State and Field Offices are responsible for implementing the policies set forth in the AML Program Manual (MS-3720) and the AML Program Policy Handbook (H3720-1), particularly as they relate to reporting of AML environmental and safety hazards (H3720-1, Chapter 2) and taking appropriate mitigation measures (H3720-1, Section 9.2, Physical Safety Risk Emergencies).
It is the BLM’s policy to stay informed about unsafe conditions on BLM managed lands as well as those on lands adjacent to the BLM. The BLM urges employees to identify AML sites and features posing an imminent, substantial risk of physical harm to the public. When an employee learns or is informed of an AML environmental or safety hazard posing an imminent, substantial risk of physical harm to the public or to the BLM’s employees, the employee is expected to report it to his or her supervisor and to their AML or Hazardous Materials Management program lead in the State Office. The site is also to be entered into the Abandoned Mines and Site Cleanup Module database.
As part of the employee rights and responsibilities as outlined in Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 1960; Basic Program Elements for Federal Employee Occupational Safety and Health Programs and Related Matters, employees have the right and are urged to report unsafe and unhealthful work conditions. When such reporting occurs, the agency has the responsibility to act promptly to abate the hazard or to take interim actions to reduce the risk to a lower level until abatement is completed (see 485 Departmental Manual Chapter 8; Employee Reports of Unsafe Condition and Allegations of Reprisal and the BLM’s Safety Manuals 1112-1 Safety and Health Management and 1112-2 Safety and Health for Field Operations). Managers and supervisors are required to implement immediate temporary or permanent measures, consistent with available funding and other BLM priorities.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) has already identified AML sites requiring immediate action in Arizona, California and Nevada. Refer to the “Background” section for details.
Managers and supervisors shall neither deter nor retaliate against any employee who acts in good faith to report an AML site or hazard. Employees who report AML-related hazards are not to be subjected to reprisal or retaliation for such reporting, and nothing in this policy is intended to limit any BLM employee’s right and obligation to report instances of waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement or misconduct to the Department of the Interior’s OIG.
New employee orientation should emphasize these policies to employees, and future training course development by the BLM will emphasize this specific issue as it relates to employee rights and supervisory responsibilities.
Timeframe: This IM is effective immediately. The Arizona, California and Nevada State Offices are to initiate appropriate mitigation actions on the sites identified by the OIG audit immediately. Actions are to be completed for these sites by September 30, 2012.
Budget Impact: Costs for implementing mitigation measures (e.g., signs, fencing, access controls) should be charged to the ANMS project code.
Background: On July 22, 2008, the OIG released its audit report “Abandoned Mine Lands in the Department of the Interior” (C-IN-MOA-004-2007). The auditors raised significant issues about implementation of the BLM’s AML program. The findings focused on: (1) Field Office management; (2) staffing; (3) program budget and funding; (4) site trespass; and (5) site inventory. The auditors made specific recommendations that, when implemented, should help to resolve the identified issues. The BLM has concurred with the recommendations and has prepared a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) to implement them. The CAP will be distributed separately by the Division of Environmental Quality and Protection (WO-280).
This IM implements Recommendation 1 and part of Recommendation 7 of the OIG report, as follows:
Recommendation 1: “Issue a clear policy statement that: Supports the abandoned mine lands program and its goals; Forbids retaliation against employees for identifying or reporting abandoned mine sites; and Requires Field Office management and staff to comply with all abandoned mine policies and procedures.”
Recommendation 7: “Implement immediate temporary or permanent measures to mitigate known dangerous sites, including those identified in Appendix A of the audit report.”
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: None.
Coordination: This IM has been coordinated with the Hazardous Material Management program, the National Safety Office, and with the Arizona, California, and Nevada State Offices.
Contact: George Stone, Abandoned Mine Lands Program Lead, Division of Environmental Quality and Protection (WO-280), (202) 452-0339, or Erinn Shirley, Abandoned Mine Lands Specialist, (202) 452-5015, Division of Environmental Quality and Protection (WO-280).
Signed by: Authenticated by:
Henri R. Bisson Robert M. Williams
Deputy Director Division of IRM Governance,WO-560