Complying with Gravel Regulations
All Users, including Village Site Managers, Contractor Users, and individual/personal users must comply with all permits and plans to use sand and gravel from NRC material sites. Permits and plans exist to protect resources (the material being mined, water quality, air quality, vegetation, animals, etc.). Conditions of permits vary from site to site therefore it is important to read and understand any permits obtained for mining material from a site.
Common challenges that can be prevented
Untrained on-site staff – Anyone operating in the pit must be aware of the requirements of the Mining and Reclamation plan as well as the permits. This does not need to be complicated or take up a lot of time but it does need to be documented that it was done.
Outdated Plans and Permits – This includes not updating the Mining and Reclamation plan, SWPPP, etc. to reflect current conditions. Each plan should be specific to your site and it should reflect what is actually happening on the ground. Changes can be as simple as writing on a hard copy and adding your initials and the date.
Not Conducting Site Inspections – Permits require frequent site inspections, so its important that you read your permits! Getting approval to do the work is just one step. Highlight things you need to do while operating in the pit as well as things that need to be done when the field work is finished. Sometimes the requirements are tied to the calendar (ex. quarterly inspections) and sometimes they are tied to the weather (ex. within 24 hours of 1” of rainfall). Know what the requirements are and find a way to keep track of them and complete them.
Not Filing Annual Reports Required by Permits – The Northwest Arctic Borough Title 9 permit often requires an annual statement (but you don’t have to wait until the end of the year to submit it, get it done when the project finishes). The Mining and Reclamation plans submitted to the ADNR require an annual reclamation statement (how much area was disturbed and how much was revegetated?). The ADEC construction general / multi-sector general permits require a notification of termination when work is complete (after reclamation is done).
Consequences of not complying with permits
The results of not complying with permit requirements vary by permit, the agency that issued the permit, and location. Generally, not applying for a permit when one is needed incurs fees as well as not complying with permit conditions.
The filing fee for a Mining and Reclamation plan with ADNR is $100. Compliance with the mining plan is usually a matter of communicating with operators during development of the plan as well as upon approval and planning the order of activities. Violating the reclamation plan puts the applicant in a position of liability to the state for the cost of hiring someone else to do the reclamation as well as potential civil action. They could also deny future permit applications or require a bond to be posted prior to approving future Mining and Reclamation plans.
A Title 9 permit from the Northwest Arctic Borough is $250 for gravel pits/extraction (See NWAB Planning Department Fee Schedule). However, the fee for the same activities when submitted after activities have started is an additional $1,000.
Some permits, especially those involving water, may have daily penalties for non-compliance. For example, if sediments are discharged to a wetland or other waterbody protected by the Clean Water Act the fines can be $100,000/day. Sedimentation and discharge are permitted through ADEC and the Multi-sector and Construction General Permits. These generally also require developing a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) which includes conducting site inspections, managing surface water, and sampling discharge water.