Mr. White has developed reclamation plans for several areas disturbed by coal and mineral mining operations.  Using site-specific topographic data, he has designed drainage alignments, profiles, and channel sections to efficiently convey runoff from the reclaimed slopes.  He has also developed reclamation grading plans that balanced earthwork volumes, designed post-mining runoff- and sediment-control structures, developed topsoil and substitute topsoil redistribution plans, and developed re-vegetation plans to restore the areas to productive post-mining land uses.  He has submitted this information to the appropriate regulatory agencies on behalf of his clients, and provided construction oversight during field implementation of the plans. Representative projects are summarized below.


Designed an Award-Winning Technique

Designed a surface-roughening technique applicable to the semi-arid areas of the western United States referred to as “deep gouging.”  This method results in a variably roughened surface that retains precipitation on the immediate slope, thereby enhancing re-vegetation success and substantially reducing erosion potentials.  Using established hydrologic calculation methods, demonstrated that sediment yields from areas reclaimed with this method are significantly reduced when compared with the same areas prior to disturbance.  Using this reclamation technique, the client received the 2003 Excellence in Surface Coal Mining and Reclamation National Award, presented by the U.S. Department of Interior, Office of Surface Mining. They were cited for

“Outstanding performance in developing and implementing exemplary mining and reclamation methods that maintained sound environmental conditions.”

Reclaim Land Affected by Colorado Mine

Developed a plan to reclaim land affected by molybdenum mine and mill located at an elevation of over 10,000 feet in Colorado. Expansion of the mining operation was projected to result in an affected area of over 6,400 acres, including the open-pit mine, tailings impoundments, a waste-rock disposal site, the mill site, and several ancillary facilities.  Critical issues affecting the design of the reclamation plan included the high-altitude location in montane and alpine ecological zones, dealing with a short growing season and an average annual snowfall of over 20 feet, the control of acid-mine drainage, the location of the site on the continental divide at the headwaters of three major drainages, and the fact that much of the surface water from the site discharged into watersheds that provided a portion of the drinking-water supply for Denver, Colorado. Evaluated areas to be affected by the expansion project and developed topsoil salvaging plans for those areas that had not yet been disturbed.  Designed reclamation channels to safely convey the peak flow from the probable maximum precipitation event around and across the tailings in a non-erosive manner. Designed a cover system for the tailings impoundments that would shed runoff in a controlled manner and minimize the potential for long-term seepage of acidic water from the tailings. The reclamation plan included demolition of site structures, placement of the demolition debris in the tailings impoundments, construction of the cover system for the tailings, recontouring of selected areas, incorporation of lime into the surface of acid-generating material, placement of topsoil, and site revegetation.

Sakhalin Island in the Russian Far East

Evaluated alternatives for reducing, controlling, and recycling waste rock at a coal mine located on Sakhalin Island in the Russian Far East. Evaluated alternatives for minimizing environmental pollution resulting from existing mine waste dumps and increasing opportunities to recycle this waste; This project was subsequently designated by the Eurasian-American Partnership for Environmentally Sustainable Economies as a Best Practice.developed a program to control and beneficially reuse solid wastes generated by the mine; and prepared a project report that outlined the feasibility of solid-waste control and recycling at the facility.  Also evaluated alternative underground mining methods to minimize the production of waste rock and assessed the coal burning efficiency of the town boiler to minimize ash production. This project was subsequently designated by the Eurasian-American Partnership for Environmentally Sustainable Economies as a Best Practice. The citation indicated that the project demonstrated “Environmentally sound and economically efficient solutions to environmental problems in Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia.

Hydrogeologic Investigation North of Vladivostok, Russian Far East

Conducted a hydrogeologic investigation at a surface coal mine located north of Vladivostok in the Russian Far East.  Large quantities of groundwater were flowing uncontrolled into the mine, creating safety hazards due to instability of pit walls and spoil piles.  Furthermore, water being discharged from the mine had the potential of adversely impacting the quality of water in Khanka Lake, an important ecological preserve located downstream from the mine. Evaluated data collected at the site by the Russian Academy of Sciences, conducted field investigations, and interviewed mine personnel familiar with the local hydrogeology.  Designed dewatering wells to intercept the groundwater before it could flow into the mine, thereby eliminating the safety and environmental concerns.  Recommended that water pumped from the dewatering wells be delivered to nearby communities for their domestic use and that the heat from the pumped groundwater be recovered to heat mine buildings and nearby residences.

Reclamation for Uranium Mine and Mill in Southeastern Utah

Prepared reclamation plans for an existing uranium mine and mill in southeastern Utah. The project included the design of a suitable cover for the tailings, giving consideration to radon attenuation, and erosion control. Designed a capillary break that was installed between the tailings and the cover to minimize the potential for moisture (and accompanying contaminants) to migrate in the vadose zone between the tailings and the cover. In accordance with the requirements of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, designed a reclamation channel to convey surface runoff resulting from the probable maximum precipitation event across the site without damaging the reclaimed tailings piles.

Park City, Utah Silver and Gold Mining Lands

Prepared a plan to reclaim land affected by waste from silver and gold mining operations near Park City, Utah.  The 4,800-acre area was planned for residential, commercial, and recreational development. Over a 100-year period, large quantities of waste rock and tailings contaminated primarily with arsenic and lead had been left in diverse locations throughout the property. Since sufficient topsoil was not available to cover the exposed waste, the cover system design for the waste rock involved incorporation of mulch into the waste rock and direct revegetation of the mulched surface.  Final reclamation plans also included demolition of remaining structures, construction of diversions to control runoff, and fertilizing and revegetating the reclaimed waste rock and tailings.  The plan was developed to provide long-term protection of the environment under the assumed future scenarios consisting of residential, commercial, and recreational land uses.

Surface‑runoff and Sediment Control Facility Designs

Designed numerous surface‑runoff and sediment control facilities for surface and underground coal mines, active and inactive uranium mills, and hazardous-waste management operations. Facilities have included sedimentation ponds, diversion channels, riprapped channels, land reclamation, check dams, and culverts. State‑of‑the‑art models have been used to determine peak design flows and to aid in design of the structures. Design considerations have included selection of the appropriate design storm, avoidance of maximum permissible flow velocities, cost‑effective erosion control, and water-surface profile analyses. Served as a liaison between the clients and the appropriate regulatory agencies.

Uranium Mill Investigation, Southeastern Utah

Conducted an investigation at the site of an active uranium mill in southeastern Utah to determine appropriate remedial actions to prevent future groundwater contamination after a plume had developed due to seepage from tailings ponds. Performed surface geophysical investigations (electrical resistivity and very-low-frequency electromagnetic) to determine the extent of contamination, bedrock lithology, and the location of major groundwater-conducting fractures. Utilized water-level and quality data from over 140 previously existing and new monitor wells to aid in defining the extent of groundwater contamination. Conducted long-term pumping tests to determine the anisotropic nature of the groundwater hydraulic system. Modeled the fractured aquifer to determine the rate of contaminant migration and the effectiveness of the proposed remedial action. Designed a remedial-action plan consisting of hydrodynamic control of contaminant migration through the operation of several groundwater recovery wells and pumping this groundwater to evaporation ponds for disposal.

Abandoned Copper/Lead Smelter Investigation

Conducted groundwater, surface water, and soil investigations at the site of an abandoned copper/lead smelter in Utah which was being considered for addition to EPA’s National Priorities List. Installed multiple monitoring wells to assess groundwater hydraulic and quality conditions. Delineated and sampled areas of smelter wastes, including slag, calcine, baghouse dust, and miscellaneous waste which had accumulated during operation and demolition of the smelter. Data received from the laboratories were interpreted using geochemical and hydrologic models to determine the need for future remedial actions and the effectiveness of natural soils at attenuating the migration of inorganic contaminants from the waste sources. Developed a conceptual remedial-action plan together with work plans for remedial design. Information was also provided in support of the client’s pursuit of Innocent Purchaser Defense rules.

Stabilize a Steep-Slope Area Affected by a Coal Outcrop Fire

Designed methods to stabilize a steep-slope area of approximately 40,000 square feet that had been affected by a coal outcrop fire.  The fire had originated in an adjacent abandoned underground coal mine and had resulted in denuding of the area and mass failure of several portions of the slope, including multiple rotational failure cracks with depths in excess of 25 feet and top widths in excess of 10 feet.  The design consisted of creating a uniform slope in areas that had been subject to mass failure, installing gabions and anchoring the gabions to the slope using rock bolts, filling the gabions with road-base material and topsoil, and revegetating the area.  Provided construction oversight and survey control during implementation of the project.

Dewatering Plan for Proposed Lead/Zinc/Silver Mine

Developed a conceptual dewatering plan for a proposed lead/zinc/silver mine that was projected to encounter significant quantities of hot saline groundwater. Previous dewatering operations in the region had pumped water to percolation ponds on an alluvial fan that was situated above a valley that relied on groundwater for irrigation of agricultural fields. Performed investigations to determine the potential of future dewatering operations to impact the valley’s groundwater resources. Reviewed data from local water-supply wells to determine whether or not past impacts had occurred. Evaluated alternatives for mine-water disposal and designed a monitoring program to assess future impacts. Served as a liaison between the mining company, regulatory agencies, and legal counsel.

Reclamation Plan for Abandoned Mine/Mill/Smelter Complex in Utah

Prepared a reclamation plan for an abandoned mine/mill/smelter complex in Utah. Collected soil, waste, and water samples to delineate acceptable topsoil and structural fill borrow materials and to determine requirements for isolation of waste materials. Prepared reclamation designs, giving consideration to regulatory obligations, demolition of structures, post-mining land uses, soil cover requirements, revegetation, and controlling runoff in a non-erosive manner. The reclamation plan also included plans for shaft and portal closure, backfilling and stabilization of disturbed slopes, reclamation of roads and pads, and general re-contouring of the area. Particular concern was paid to mitigating erosion that had occurred in the area since shutdown of mining operations and the beginning of reclamation. Project costs were also estimated.

Inactive Uranium Mill Tailings Piles in the western United States

Supervised data collection and analyses to evaluate the migration of inorganic and radioactive contaminants in surface and groundwater from several inactive uranium‑mill tailings piles in the western United States. Supervised drilling and monitoring‑well construction. Collected soil and water samples for quality analyses. Performed field tests to determine groundwater hydraulics. Analyzed all data to determine existing conditions and probable impacts of implementing proposed remedial actions. Prepared detailed reports for each site and associated sections of environmental assessments. Assisted in preparation of remedial-action plans.

Lixiviant Migration Study at a Texas Uranium Solution Mine

Evaluated the extent of lixiviant migration at a uranium solution mine in Texas. Developed cost estimates for restoration of groundwater quality at the site.