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Water: Coal

Coal Mining Effluent Guidelines

image of coal mine

EPA promulgated the Coal Mining effluent guidelines and standards (40 CFR Part 434) in 1975, and amended the regulation in 1976, 1977, 1979, 1982, 1985 and 2002. The regulation covers wastewater discharges from mine drainage, coal storage facilities, and coal preparation plants. The Coal Mining effluent guidelines and standards are incorporated into NPDES permits.

What is Coal Mining?

Mine operators extract coal from underground and surface mines using machinery and explosives. Coal remining occurs on mine lands and coal refuse piles that have been previously mined. Coal preparation plants remove waste material from coal by washing and concentrating. The plants may also sort and screen coal by size, and may crush the coal to facilitate handling and processing. The coal may be stored at several stages in the process of preparation and transport to the final customer. Wastewater is generated during the mining process from groundwater produced during coal extraction, from water used by operators for equipment cooling and dust control, and from precipitation entering mines. Wastewater is also produced during the coal preparation process, and from contaminated stormwater at coal storage facilities.

These activities are included within North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) code 21211, Coal Mining. (Note: the NAICS group listing is provided as a guide and does not define the coverage of the Coal Mining regulations. For precise definitions of coverage, see the applicability sections in 40 CFR Part 434.)

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Facilities Covered

The Coal Mining effluent guidelines apply to wastewater discharges from facilities in six subcategories:

  • Subpart B: Coal Preparation Plants and Associated Areas
  • Subpart C: Acid or Ferruginous Mine Drainage
  • Subpart D: Alkaline Mine Drainage
  • Subpart E: Post-Mining Areas
  • Subpart G: Coal Remining
  • Subpart H: Western Alkaline Coal Mining

(Subparts A and F contain General and Miscellaneous Provisions, respectively.)

Rulemaking History


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