The following words and phrases, unless a different meaning is plainly required by the context, shall have the following meanings:
(1) APPLICANT. Any person or legal entity who or which applied for a license or a permit to engage in surface coal mining operations.
(2) APPROXIMATE ORIGINAL CONTOUR. That surface configuration achieved by filling and grading of the mined area so that the reclaimed area, including any terracing or access roads, closely resembles the general surface configuration of the land prior to mining and blends into and complements the drainage pattern of the surrounding terrain, with all high walls and spoil piles eliminated; water impoundments may be permitted where the commission determines that they are in compliance with this article.
(3) COAL BROKER and COAL SALES AGENCY. Those persons whose principal business is the buying and reselling of coal, or the negotiation or soliciting of coal sales between operators and purchasers; where principal business means that at least 25 percent of such person's coal related income is derived from such activities and such activities involve transactions affecting 250 or more tons of coal per year.
(4) COMPLETED APPLICATION. The forms required by this article completely filled out and filed in the director's office, with all questions answered and all required and supporting documents, drawings, maps, schedules, surveys, fees and all other pertinent data required by the rules and regulations of the commission and this article.
(5) IMMINENT DANGER TO THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF THE PUBLIC. The existence of any condition or practice, or any violation of a permit or other requirement of this article in a surface coal mining and reclamation operation, which condition, practice, or violation could reasonably be expected to cause substantial physical harm to persons outside the permit area before such condition, practice, or violation can be abated. A reasonable expectation of death or serious injury before abatement exists if a rational person, subjected to the same conditions or practices giving rise to the peril, would not expose himself or herself to the danger during the time necessary for abatement.
(6) LICENSE. An authorization issued pursuant to Section 9-16-81 which identifies persons eligible to conduct surface coal mining and reclamation operations.
(7) OPERATOR. Any person conducting surface coal mining and reclamation operations and includes permittees and their subcontractors.
(8) ORDER. The grant or denial of any license or permit; the setting, return or refusal to return any bond; or any other official act of the commission, its director or authorized agent thereof.
(9) OUTER SLOPE. The exposed side of the spoil that slopes away from the pit created by the initial mining cut.
(10) PERMIT. An authorization issued pursuant to Sections 9-16-82 through 9-16-89 of this article which allows a licensee to engage in surface coal mining at a particular location.
(11) PERMIT AREA. The area of land indicated on the approved map submitted by the operator with his application which area of land shall be covered by the operator's bond as required by Section 9-16-89 of this article and shall be readily identifiable by appropriate markers on the site.
(12) PERSON. An individual, partnership, association, society, joint stock company, firm, company, corporation, or other business organization or any governmental entity and any successor or agency of the foregoing.
(13) PRIME FARMLAND. The same meaning as prescribed by the United States Secretary of Agriculture on the basis of such factors as moisture availability, temperature regime, chemical balance, permeability, surface layer composition, susceptibility to flooding and erosion characteristics, and which historically have been used for intensive agricultural purposes.
(14) RECLAMATION. The process of converting mined land to its former or other allowable use as required by this article.
(15) REGULATORY AUTHORITY or STATE REGULATORY AUTHORITY. The Alabama Surface Mining Commission acting by and through its director or his designee.
(16) REVEGETATION. Plants or growth which replace, where required, original ground cover following ground disturbance.
(17) SPOIL PILE. A deposit as piled or deposited in mining of overburden or reject materials and minerals which previously was overlying or in between coal deposits.
(18) STATE PROGRAM. The commission acting under a program approved pursuant to Section 503 of Public Law 95-87, 30 U.S.C. 1200.
(19) SURFACE COAL MINING AND RECLAMATION OPERATIONS. Surface coal mining operations and all activities necessary and incident to the reclamation of such operations.
(20) SURFACE COAL MINING OPERATIONS.
a. Activities conducted on the surface of lands in connection with a surface coal mine extracting coal from the earth by removing the strata or material which overlies or is above or between coal seams or otherwise retrieving it from the surface or surface operations and surface impacts incident to an underground coal mine. Such activities include excavation for the purpose of obtaining coal including such common methods as contour, strip, auger, mountain-top removal, box cut, open pit, and area mining, the use of explosives and blasting, and in situ distillation or retorting, leaching or other chemical or physical processing, and the cleaning, concentrating, or other processing or preparation, loading of coal at or near the mine site; and
b. The areas upon which such activities occur or where such activities disturb the natural land surface. Such areas shall also include any adjacent land the use of which is incidental to any such activities, all lands affected by the construction of new roads or the improvement or use of existing roads to gain access to the site of such activities and for haulage, and excavations, workings, impoundments, dams, ventilation shafts, entryways, refuse banks, dumps, stockpiles, overburden piles, spoil banks, culm banks, tailings, holes or depressions, repair areas, storage areas, processing areas, shipping areas and other areas upon which are sited structures, facilities, or other property or materials on the surface, resulting from or incident to such activities.
(21) UNWARRANTED FAILURE TO COMPLY. The failure of a permittee to prevent the occurrence of any violation of his permit or any requirement of this article due to indifference, lack of diligence, or lack of reasonable care, or the failure to abate any violation of such permit or this article due to indifference, lack of diligence, or lack of reasonable care.