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Reissuance of NPDES General Permit for Stormwater Associated with Mining Activities (BMP GP-104)

[45 Pa.B. 7235]
[Saturday, December 19, 2015]

 Under The Clean Streams Law (35 P. S. §§ 691.1—691.1001), the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C.A. §§ 1251—1388) and 25 Pa. Code Chapters 92a and 102 (relating to National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permitting, monitoring and compliance; and erosion and sediment control), the Department of Environmental Protection (Department) by this notice announces its intent to reissue National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permit for Stormwater Associated with Mining Activities (BMP GP-104) (formerly issued as ''BMR GP-104'') which expired on October 18, 2015. The Department has extended existing BMP GP-104 approvals until the reissued permit is published as final.

 Under 25 Pa. Code § 92a.32 (relating to stormwater discharges) (incorporating by reference 40 CFR 122.26(a), (b), (c)(1), (d), (e)(1), (3)—(9) and (f)—(g) (relating to storm water discharges (applicable to State NPDES programs, see § 123.25)), an NPDES permit is required for discharges associated with a mining operation which are composed entirely of stormwater. A mining operation is required to have an individual NPDES permit or coverage under a general NPDES permit, if the site has expected or potential discharges of stormwater runoff.

 For both coal and noncoal mining operations, where the only potential discharge will be composed entirely of stormwater, the discharges are appropriately controlled under a general permit. Under 25 Pa. Code § 92a.54 (relating to general permits) a general permit is justified for the following reasons: 1) these mining operations are substantially similar in scope and operations including use of common Best Management Practices (BMP) for erosion and sedimentation control; 2) they would potentially discharge the same type of pollutant (that is, suspended solids); 3) they would require the same effluent limitations or operating conditions in the form of a set of commonly-used BMPs; and 4) these operations, individually and cumulatively, do not have the potential to cause significant adverse environmental impact from stormwater discharges.

Applicability

 This general permit applies to earth disturbance activity associated with mining where, in the absence of BMPs, an area of disturbance 1 acre or greater will result in a point source discharge of stormwater to surface waters of the Commonwealth. This general permit is issued in conjunction with a separate mining permit or exploration where the only expected discharge to surface waters of the Commonwealth will consist entirely of stormwater, in which the main potential pollutant is sediment.

 This general permit applies to mining activities, as defined in 25 Pa. Code §§ 87.1 and 88.1 (relating to definitions) as ''surface mining activities'' and in 25 Pa. Code § 77.1 (relating to definitions) as ''noncoal surface mining activities,'' where the only potential pollutant is sediment from stormwater runoff. This general permit will address stormwater in association with mining activities and adjacent areas such as access roads and processing facilities that may not be part of the mining permit but are integral to it. This general permit includes provisions for stormwater-related discharges only, not process water or pumped groundwater. This general permit is not applicable for an operation that will, or has the potential to, discharge to special protection (EV or HQ) waters, including EV wetlands, or to streams identified as ''impaired waters'' for sediment.

Registration and Information Requirements

 To qualify for coverage under this general permit, a licensed mine operator must submit a complete Notice of Intent (NOI) form. The operator must indicate the applicable mining permit or exploration associated with the general permit for stormwater coverage, only one site per NOI for coverage under the general permit, or attach the applicable information to the NOI. The operator must be the same for this general permit as for the associated mining activity authorization.

 In the NOI, the operator must identify the BMPs to be used onsite. Use of these BMPs must be described in conjunction with an Erosion and Sedimentation Plan (Plan) that meets the requirements of 25 Pa. Code Chapter 102, required to be filed with the permit documentation or attached to the NOI for this general permit. The Plan submitted with the associated mining application may be used to satisfy part of the information requirements for the NOI.

 The completed NOI form must be submitted to the appropriate District Mining Office with the proper signatures.

 The process for registration for coverage under the general permit also applies to mining activities already underway that require but have not yet obtained NPDES coverage for stormwater.

 The Department will notify mine operators who need coverage under this general permit or an individual NPDES permit by letter, through an inspection or at permit renewal.

 A fee of $250 payable to the ''Commonwealth of Pennsylvania'' will be required for this general permit upon submission of the NOI. If approved, the operator will receive notice in writing of coverage under this general permit.

 The general permit will be reissued every 5 years by the Department. Coverage under the general permit will also be renewable every 5 years until the reclamation plan is completed.

Conditions of the General Permit

 This NPDES general permit will establish effluent limitations in the form of implemented BMPs that minimize the potential for erosion and sedimentation to protect and maintain water quality and existing and designated uses by restricting the rates and quantities of sediment, stormwater runoff and associated pollutants. The operator will implement and maintain these BMPs for the extent of the mining activity as described in this Plan.

 In the case of point source discharges, effluent limits will be:


30-day Daily Instantaneous
Parameter Average Maximum Maximum
Total Suspended Solids 35 mg/l 70 mg/l 90 mg/l
Total Settleable Solids 0.5 ml/l Instantaneous Maximum
Only in the event of a 10-yr, 24-hr precipitation event;
instead of Total Suspended Solids.
pH Greater than 6.0; less than 9.0

 Discharge of sewage, mine drainage, groundwater or industrial waste is not permitted.

 Periodic visual inspections are required. Grab samples are required in case of a discharge.

Exemptions for coverage

 Any mining permit that has a corresponding individual NPDES permit for point source discharges of any type, does not need additional coverage under this general permit.

 If the operator of a mining area less than 5 acres can demonstrate in the permit application that, in the absence of any BMPs, stormwater runoff will be completely contained within the pit or completely infiltrate without runoff from the site, no permit coverage is needed. In that case, the mining permit or exploration will be approved with ''no discharge'' authorized.

Denial of Coverage

 Coverage under this general permit is not a replacement for an individual NPDES if there is substantive reason for an individual discharge permit to be issued. For example, the general permit would not apply to discharges to special protection waters, impaired water or to discharges that may contain hazardous pollutants. In the cases where coverage under this permit is denied, the operator would be required to apply for an individual NPDES permit.

 Other reasons for denial of coverage under this general permit are listed in 25 Pa. Code § 92a.54(e).

Public Participation

 Interested persons may submit written comments on this general permit reissuance by January 19, 2016. Written comments should be submitted to the Technical Guidance Coordinator, Department of Environmental Pro-tection, Policy Office, Rachel Carson State Office Building, P. O. Box 2063, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2063, ecomment@pa.gov. Commentators are urged to submit comments using the Department's online eComment for Policies at www.ahs.dep.pa.gov/eComment. Comments submitted by facsimile will not be accepted. All comments, including comments submitted by e-mail must include the originator's name and address. Questions can be addressed to Sharon Hill, (717) 787-6842.

 A copy of the proposed reissued permit and an additional fact sheet are available at the Department's eLibrary at http://www.elibrary.dep.state.pa.us/dsweb/View/Collection-10742 or by contacting Sharon Hill, Bureau of Mining Programs, (717) 787-6842, shill@pa.gov.

 Following the close of the public comment period, the Department will publish the reissued general permit in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

JOHN QUIGLEY, 
Secretary

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 15-2233. Filed for public inspection December 18, 2015, 9:00 a.m.]



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