Glossary of AML Terms

 
The following glossary provides definitions for terms and descriptions for acronyms that are used in the AML Handbook. This glossary does not supersede definitions in relevant laws or regulations.
 
Abandoned Mine: An abandoned hardrock mine on or affecting public lands administered by the BLM, at which exploration, development, mining, reclamation, maintenance, and inspection of facilities and equipment, and other operations ceased and with no evidence demonstrating that the miner intends to resume mining as of January 1, 1981. The BLM's Surface Management regulations (43 CFR Subpart 3809), became effective on January 1, 1981. This includes, but is not limited to: acid and caustic rock drainages, waste rock, mill tailings, and retort waste. Physical safety hazards may include steep slopes, adits, winzes, raises, buildings, high walls, settling ponds, other water retaining features, as well as other related dangerous structures. For many abandoned mines, no current claimant of record or viable potentially responsible party exists. Abandoned mines generally include a range of mining impacts, or features that may pose a threat to water quality, public safety, and/or the environment.
 
Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Program: A BLM program that focuses on reclaiming hardrock abandoned mine lands on or affecting public lands administered by the BLM. The primary goal of the program is to remediate and reduce actual or potential threats that pose physical safety risks and environmental degradation. The BLM applies risk-based criteria and uses the watershed approach to establish project priorities. The program also works to return mine-impacted lands to productive use(s).
 
Applicable and Relevant and Appropriate Requirements (ARARs): ARARs are substantive requirements or limitations promulgated under Federal or more stringent State law that specifically address (i.e. are legally applicable to), or are well suited to (i.e. are relevant and appropriate) a CERCLA site based on a hazardous substance present, a proposed action to be taken, or the location of the site. ARARs include cleanup standards, standards of control, and other environmental protection requirements, criteria, or limitations. These standards are critical in setting cleanup standards and must be attained by the final remedy selected for the site. The National Contingency Plan (NCP) contains the legal definitions of "[a]pplicable requirements" and "[r]elevant and appropriate requirements" at 40 C.F.R. 300.5. Additionally, the NCP establishes specific requirements and guidelines to be followed in the agency’s identification of ARARs at 40 C.F.R. 300.400(g). These and related provisions of the NCP must be satisfied when the BLM is identifying ARARs for a site.
 
Categorical Exclusion: A category of actions (identified in agency guidance) that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment and for which neither an EA nor an EIS is required (40 CFR 1508.4).
 

Environmental and Disposal Liability (EDL): EDL are potential liabilities of the Federal Government resulting from past or current operations that pose the risk of a release of hazardous substances, pollutants, and contaminants on Department lands or facilities and that such risk may require the expenditure of Government funds to address. Treatment of these liabilities is based on criteria set forth by the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board in SFFAS No. 5 Accounting for Liabilities of the Federal Government, and SFFAS No. 6, Accounting for Property, Plant, and Equipment. SFFAS No. 5 applies to all environmental and disposal liabilities not specifically covered by SFFAS No. 6, including cleanup resulting from accidents or where cleanup is an ongoing part of operations. SFFAS No. 5 states, "Contingencies should be recognized as a liability when a past transaction has occurred, a future outflow or other scrifice of resources is probable, and the related future outflow or sacrifice of resources is measurable." The identification of such risks and the inclusion and reporting of such risks on a Departmental EDL list should not be deemed an admission of legal liability for such risks by the BLM or the Department.

Feature: A feature is a single human-made object or disturbance associated with mining that represents a discrete hazard or issue, such as a shaft or adit (vertical or horizontal opening), tailings, machinery and facilities, etc. A mine can be comprised or one or more features.

Geographic Information System (GIS):
A computer system capable of storing, analyzing, and displaying data and describing places on the earth’s surface.

Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA): The GPRA (Pub.L. 103-62, Aug. 3, 1993, 107 Stat. 285) holds Federal agencies accountable for using resources wisely and achieving program results. GPRA requires agencies to develop plans for what they intend to accomplish, measure how well they are doing, make appropriate decisions based on the information they have gathered, and communicate information about their performance to Congress and to the public.
 
Hardrock: This term is used here strictly in the context of the AML program and has traditionally been used by the BLM and other agencies to apply to non-coal mining environments where environmental risks such as acid-mine drainage, heavy metal contamination, and threats to water quality and the environment are of concern. Hardrock minerals in this context, generally include, but are not limited to gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc, magnesium, nickel, molybdenum, tungsten, uranium, and select other minerals where priority AML problems may occur. Most hardrock minerals are locatable under the Mining Law of 1872. Non-hardrock minerals include coal (which is addressed by the Office of Surface Mining and State coal reclamation programs) and some common-variety mineral materials, such as sand and gravel.
 
Hazardous Substances: CERCLA term identifying those substances designated pursuant to section 1321(b)(2)(A) of Title 33, or 42 USC 9602, or listed in 40 CFR 302 or 355.
 
Hazardous Substance Release: Any spilling, leaking, pumping, pouring, emitting, emptying, discharging, injecting, escaping, leaching, dumping, or disposing into the environment (including the abandonment or discarding of barrels, containers, and other closed receptacles containing any hazardous substance or pollutant or contaminant). 
 
Hazardous Waste: Refers to a solid waste, or combination of solid wastes, which because of its quantity, concentration, or physical, chemical, or infectious characteristics may pose a substantial threat to human health and the environment.
 
Mine: An underground opening or open pit used for the purpose of extracting minerals. Mines commonly include features, such as shafts, adits, pits, trenches, tunnels, waste rock dumps, tailings, and structures including, but not limited to, mills, buildings, head frames, hoists, and loading chutes.
 
Potentially Responsible Party (PRP): Any individual or entity, including current and past owners, operators, transporters, arrangers, or generators who may be liable for clean-up costs for hazardous substances under CERCLA Section 107(a) or for injuries to natural resources on public lands from hazardous substance releases under section 311(f) of the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. 1321(f) and CERCLA section 107(f), 42 U.S.C. 9607(f).

Project:
The investigation, cleanup of safety risks, stabilization, or reclamation of an abandoned mine land site or sites. A project may include one or more individual abandoned mines. The project area may be based on geologic, geographic, hydrologic, watershed, ownership, or other legal boundaries, or based on practical or logistical convenience, and is often contiguous.

Reclamation: Reclamation includes all actions such as removals, remediation, reclamation, and other cleanup activities, required to control/reduce/convert the environmental and physical safety risks to the public posed by hazards at a site to a condition suitable for public use.

Remedial Action: Permanent remedy taken to prevent or minimize the release of hazardous substances into the environment. Long-term actions (5-8 years) are necessary to return a site to its original conditions. 
 
Removal Action: Short-term actions necessary to remove or mitigate a release or threat of release of hazardous substances.
 
Site: The area identified as being impacted by physical safety and/or environmental hazards. This can include any area where hazardous substances have been released or have migrated. The area size is influenced by the extent of the investigation, migration, evaluation, and past, current, and future clean-up activities.
 
Special Status Species: Includes proposed species, listed species, and candidate species under the ESA; State-listed species; and the BLM State Director- designated sensitive species (see BLM Manual 6840 - Special Status Species Management).
 
Strategic Plan: A plan that establishes the overall direction for the BLM. This plan is guided by the requirements of GPRA, covers a 5-year period, and is updated every 3 years. It is consistent with FLPMA and other laws affecting the public lands.
 
Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL): Pursuant to the Clean Water Act, an estimate of the total quantity of pollutants (from all sources: point, nonpoint, and natural) that may be allowed into waters without exceeding applicable water quality criteria.
 
Watershed: This term, when used generically, is the land area that drains water to a particular stream, river, or lake. It is a land feature that can be identified by tracing a line along the highest elevations between two areas on a map, often a ridge.
 
Watershed Approach: Refers to the methodology of working within the geographic boundaries of a watershed with partners (Federal, State, private, and Tribes) to jointly resolve problems that affect the physical, chemical, and biological quality of that watershed. A scientific approach is used to prioritize sites, develop clean-up action plans, and evaluate effectiveness of actions in the watershed. Partnering agencies and organizations share and exchange information, collaborate on project management, and reduce costs through fund leveraging and avoiding duplication of efforts and conflicting actions.