A legal perspective of integrated surface mining, solid waste landfill reclamation and land conservation
Aston, Robert L.
In the area of international environmental law this thesis proposes the formulation of one-step planning and permitting regulation for the integrated utilisation of new surface mines as depositories for municipal solid waste. Additionally, the utilisation of abandoned and currently operated surface mines is proposed as solid waste landfills as an integral step in their reclamation. Existing laws, litigation and issues in the United Kingdom, the U.S. and Canada are discussed because of their common legal system, language and heritage. The critical shortage of approved space for disposal of solid waste has caused an urgent and growing problem for both the waste disposal industry and society. Surface mining can serve three important environmental and societal functions inuring to the health and welfare of the public: (1) providing basic minerals for goods and construction; (20 sequentially, to provide critically needed, safe burial sites for society's wastes, and (3) to conserve land by dual purpose use and to restore derelict land to beneficial surface use. Currently, the first two functions are treated environmentally, and in regulation, as two different siting problems, yet they both are earth-disturbing and excavating industries requiring surface restoration. The processes are largely duplicative and should be combined for better efficiency, less earth disturbance, conservation of land, and for fuller and better reclamation of completed surface mines returning the surfaces to greater utility than present mined land reclamation procedures. While both industries are viewed by a developed society and its communities as "bad neighbours", they remain essential and critical for mankind's existence and welfare. The study offers successful examples of the integrated process in each country. The study argues that most non-fuel surface mine openings, if not already safe, can economically, through present containment technology, be made environmentally safe for use as solid waste landfills. Simultaneously, the procedure safeguards and monitors protection of ground and surface waters from landfill contamination.
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