§22-3-16. Cessation of operation by order of inspector; informal conference; imposition of affirmative obligations; appeal.

(a) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this article, a surface-mining reclamation inspector has the authority to issue a cessation order for any portion of a surface-mining operation when an inspector determines that any condition or practice exists, or that any permittee is in violation of any requirements of this article or any permit condition required by this article, which condition, practice or violation also creates an imminent danger to the health or safety of the public, or is causing or can reasonably be expected to cause significant, imminent environmental harm to land, air or water resources. The cessation order takes effect immediately. Unless waived in writing, an informal conference shall be held at or near the site relevant to the violation set forth in the cessation order within twenty-four hours after the order becomes effective or such order shall expire. The conference shall be held before a surface-mining reclamation supervisor who shall, immediately upon conclusion of said hearing, determine when and if the operation or portion thereof may resume. Operators who believe they are aggrieved by the decision of the surface-mining reclamation supervisor may immediately appeal to the director, setting forth reasons why the operation should not be halted. The director forthwith shall determine when the operation or portion thereof may be resumed.

(b) The cessation order remains in effect until the director determines that the condition, practice or violation has been abated, or until modified, vacated or released by the director. Where the director finds that the ordered cessation of any portion of a surface coal mining operation will not completely abate the imminent danger to health or safety of the public or the significant imminent environmental harm to land, air or water resources, the director shall, in addition to the cessation order, impose affirmative obligations on the operator requiring the operator to take whatever steps the director determines necessary to abate the imminent danger or the significant environmental harm.

(c) Any cessation order issued pursuant to this section or any other provision of this article may be released by any inspector. An inspector shall be readily available to terminate a cessation order upon abatement of the violation.