Sunday, March 01, 2009

Impacts and Remediation Methods of Acid Mine Drainage

AMD in Red Mountain Creek, CO

At some point, most paddlers have come across one of the greatest threats to our nation's streams: Acid Mine Drainage. Paddling on many of West Virginia's creeks and rivers the effects become quite evident. The Cheat River watershed is especially affected.Acid Mine Drainage is a mixture of sulfuric acid, ferric compounds, and other heavy metals. It degrades water quality tremendously, posing severe threats to aquatic life, surrounding ecosystems, and humans. It results from the oxidation of pyrite during the mining process. I did a research paper on AMD for one of my first Environmental Management classes. The abstract is below followed by a link to the full text of the paper for those interested in learning more about this devastating phenomenon. A synopsis of AMD in the Cheat watershed follows.

ABSTRACT: One of the most significant land management issues facing the U.S today deals with hundreds of years of abandoned mines. Prospecting for coal, gold, silver, nickel, and other precious metals has left many regions of the nation literally littered with abandoned mines. These sites that once held the riches of a thriving nation now leave behind a legacy of destruction. Thousands of miles of streams are polluted with acidic mine waters that drain from these mines, bringing with them high levels of heavy metals and acids. These substances are highly toxic to aquatic life leaving many streams entirely devoid of life. Surrounding ecosystems are thus also highly affected; acid mine waters can leave behind tree-less, lifeless moonscapes. The ecological and public health impacts of acid mine drainage and its affect on recreational activities are discussed here. An overview of historic mining practices, legislation, and remediation methods are also studied. Successful remediation projects on key river reaches are examined.

Click here for a link to the full text:

Impacts and Remediation Methods of Acid Mine Drainage

(If you'd prefer a pdf version let me know and I'll email it)


Blogger China Chuck said...

Great article. I'm visiting your site from China and we have lots of issues with pollution and acid rain here. I'd greatly appreciate it if you could send me the PDF file? It'll take weeks (months if I don't harass my students) to get it translated to Chinese but hopefully I can share your knowledge with others.

8:25 PM  

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