COAL MINE DRAINAGE (CMD) TREATMENT METHODS

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CopyrightŠ Coal Creek Watershed Foundation, Inc. 2000 through 2016
CELEBRATING OUR 16th YEAR!!


 

(From "A Citizen's Handbook to Address Contaminated Coal Mine Drainage", USEPA Publication, September 1997)

PASSIVE TREATMENT SYSTEMS

Passive treatment is accomplished mostly through the action of bacteria, wetland plants, exposure to the air, and contact with limestone to neutralize acidity, break down sulfates and remove metals. Raising the pH reduces acidity, permits the survival of sulfate-reducing bacteria and promotes the oxidation and precipitation of dissolved metals in the drainage upon aeration. Metals can also be deposited directly as sulfide compounds into wetland sediments or bound up as plaque on plant roots. While wetlands are usually incorporated into multi-component treatment systems, they can be used as stand-alone treatment units if acidity is moderate, flows are low, and space is available.

The structural components of integrated passive CMD treatment systems require periodic maintenance but are relatively inexpensive. Some concerns have arisen over the expected life of wetland system components and long-term maintenance, and these factors must be explored and considered during the design phase. Removal of accumulated metallic sludges in wetlands and recharge of the organic substrate are primary maintenance considerations in designing and operating wetland systems. An excellent technical review of biological Processes appears in Passive Treatment of Coal Mine Drainage, a document published by the U.S. Bureau of Mines (Information Circular 9389).

There are currently several passive treatment processes in use: aerobic wetlands, anaerobic wetlands, anoxic limestone drains, alkalinity producing systems, limestone ponds, reverse alkalinity producing systems, and open limestone channels. These approaches are often combined with other specially designed chemical and physical treatment processes to create a system capable of addressing a wide range of contaminants in CMD.

Some technical factors must be considered when deciding which passive method to use in the treatment of CMD:

ˇ Amount of acidity and alkalinity in the CMD

ˇ Flow rate of the discharge

ˇ Types and concentrations of metals

ˇ Solubility of the limestone (if used).

ˇ Percent of calcium in the limestone (if used)

ˇ Amount of dissolved oxygen in the CMD

ˇ Oxidation/reduction potential of the CMD

ˇ Amount of suspended solids in the CMD

ˇ Hydrology of the watershed

ˇ Space available

Limitations of Passive Treatment

Passive treatment has proven to be successful on small CMD discharges and some larger ones, but the long-term results are unknown. A considerable amount of research is being performed on this technology by agencies and universities throughout the coal states. Space is another primary limitation since constructed wetlands can require an area from several acres to several hundred acres in size. Other limiting factors involve the use of limestone in biological systems. Sulfate (SO4) at concentrations of approximately 2,000 mg/ L will precipitate into an insoluble gypsum (CaSO4) sludge after reacting with the limestone (CaCO3). This may cause clogging in the pore spaces between the crushed limestone particles. Clogging can also occur if the velocity is not strong enough to move precipitating aluminum hydroxides out of the crushed limestone components. Finally, disposal of wetland sludges and replacement of the organic matter in the substrate are ongoing maintenance concerns.

Overview of Aerobic Wetlands

Aerobic (oxidizing) wetlands are man-made wetlands that provide an inexpensive and low-maintenance process for treating the metals contained in CMD with a pH above 6.0. The bed of the wetland is lined with plastic or rubber sheeting (or a layer of clay or other impermeable soil) to prevent seepage, and a top layer of rich soil or other organic substrate is added for the growth of vegetation and bacteria that help remove iron and manganese. Wetland plants such as cattails, reeds, rushes, and arrowhead are planted in the wetland to slow and filter the flow. Very little metal uptake by plants has been documented, though some uptake of heavy metals has been noted.

The primary processes of CMD treatment in aerobic wetlands are metal removal through aerobic bacterial activity and oxidation of metals through exposure of these dissolved metals to atmospheric oxygen. The large surface area of the wetland promotes the absorption of oxygen by the drainage water, facilitating the reaction that oxidizes and solidifies the dissolved metal compounds. Besides bacterial action and oxidation, metals are also removed in aerobic wetlands through the process of adsorption to substrate material and roots of the plants. An aeration device is sometimes used to further increase dissolved oxygen in CMD, especially alkaline discharges, which decreases the required residence or holding time in the cells.

Single aeration units can provide sufficient oxygen to oxidize 50 to 70 mg/L of ferrous iron; greater concentrations of iron require multiple aeration units.

After oxidation, the metals precipitate out of the CMD solution as a metal hydroxide sludge and settle to the bottom of the wetlands Metal precipitate sludges may fill and clog the aerobic wetland after a period of time to the extent that the system needs maintenance, reconstruction, or replacement. The process of oxidation increases the acidity of the CMD being treated, just as oxidation of mine wastes lowers pH and increases acidity. Neutralization of excess acidity at a subsequent treatment step may be required prior to final discharge.

Design Considerations for Aerobic Wetlands

The pH of the inflowing CMD must be between 6 and 8 for the system to work: metals that are being precipitated into a solid will redissolve if the pH starts dropping into the acid range (below 6). Even with ample oxygen, the oxidation of iron slows 100-fold with every unit decrease in the pH. Sufficient area must be available to construct an aerobic wetland with a flow path length and retention time that promote removal of the metals from the CMD. Other considerations in the design of constructed wetlands include site preparation, establishment of vegetation on wetland dike slopes, the number and size of wetland units (called "cells"), the type and thickness of earthen materials used in construction, water depth within the cells, flow patterns and rates within and between cells, discharge point locations, species of plants within the cells, control of animals like muskrats that may damage berms and dikes, and monitoring of discharged water. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources has published a document for constructed wetlands, Approval of Constructed Wetlands for the Treatment of Mine Drainage, that provides guidance on design and construction.

Limitations of Aerobic Wetlands

It should be noted that some states do not recognize the effectiveness of constructed aerobic wetlands as stand-alone units for treating CMD. These systems are not sufficient in and of themselves to acquire a mine bond release for active mining operations in states like Kentucky, and other states recognize that the methodology is new, relatively untested over the long term, and not effective under all conditions. Aerobic biological systems are designed to remove metals in CMD that has a relatively neutral pH (6.0 to 8.0), so pretreatment of the discharge through a chemical process is necessary for highly acidic or alkaline CMD. As noted previously, the oxidation process promote lower acidity, which may necessitate further treatment in an anaerobic wetland (see next section) or via direct chemical applications. Finally, the metal precipitate sludge may fill and clog the aerobic wetland over time to the extent that the system needs maintenance, reconstruction, or replacement Removal and disposal of accumulated sludges can be expensive, especially if the sludges contain high concentrations of toxins.

Overview of Anaerobic Wetlands

Anaerobic (nonoxygenated) wetlands, also referred to as compost wetlands, are very similar to aerobic wetlands. The major difference between the two is the thick, oxygen-free organic substrate through which the CMD flows upon entering the system. This substrate consists of a layer of matted decaying material on the bottom of the wetlands where bacteria-driven processes occur that break down the sulfates (SO4) that form part of CMD's sulfuric acid (H2SO4) and gypsum (CaSO4) content. Iron-reducing anaerobic bacteria, which can survive at low pH values, are also active in this oxygen-free zone. Anaerobic wetlands represent an inexpensive method suitable for treating some CMD discharges.

The primary agent in the acid-reducing process is bacterial action that break down sulfates by using oxygen atoms bound to the sulfate (SO4) molecules. The oxygen is consumed by metabolic processes of the living bacteria. (This process is also used in the alkalinity-producing systems reviewed in the following section.) The bacteria thrive in the oxygen-free, rich, organic mass of the substrate. They have been found to raise pH readings from 1. 1 to more than 6.0 without additional chemical treatment.

As sulfates are reduced by anaerobic bacterial activity, metals in the CMD begin to precipitate as sulfide compounds. Copper, if present precipitates fired followed by lead, zinc, cadmium and eventually, iron. Aluminum does not form a metal sulfide, and the high solubility of manganese makes formation of a precipitate unlikely. The removal of these metals is accomplished through precipitation processes as the pH is increased.

Flow rates of the discharge determine the size requirements of the wetland area, and both flow and CMD chemistry determine the required holding time. If the pH of the inflowing CMD is less than 3 and adequate residence time cannot be designed into the system, additional alkalinity will be needed. Limestone is sometimes used in the anoxic zone beneath the organic substrate to increase the amount of alkalinity (see next section). The flow is directed first through the limestone and then through the organic substrate. When limestone is used, the dissolved oxygen level must be less dm 2 mg/L to prevent armoring of the crushed limestone. (See previous section for details on armoring.) Substrate materials containing alkaline material, like spent mushroom compost, can also be used to raise pH. Careful regulation of the flow and dispersal through the wetland is necessary to ensure adequate holding time for treatment to occur.

Limitations of Anaerobic Wetlands

As with aerobic wetlands, space considerations and the long-term capabilities of the system represent primary limitations in utilizing anaerobic wetlands. Temperature is also a limiting factor in the performance of an aerobic wetlands During the winter, the rate at which acidity and metals are removed can decrease because the bacteria are less active in cold weather. Replacement or recharging of the organic substrate might also be necessary as various microbial species break down and consume the material. Finally, metal precipitates settling out of the wetlands can fill and clog the bottom of the cells with sludge to the extent that the system needs maintenance, reconstruction, or replacement

Overview of Alkalinity-Producing Systems (APS)

APS combine the chemical processes of limestone ponds with the biological processes of anaerobic wetlands to treat CMD with high acidity and elevated metal concentrations. APS are ponds with perforated pipe underdrain systems overlain with crushed limestone and a layer of organic material. These ponds, which produce alkalinity through successive processes, are often called successive alkalinity-producing systems, or SAPS.

The CMD flows into the SAPS pond where it is initially exposed to conditions favoring the oxidation and precipitation of metals, and the settling of these and other suspended solids. The CMD then percolates through the anoxic zone containing organic matter and crushed limestone. Iron is filtered through adsorption by the organic material or reduced to ferrous iron and deposited in the substrate by the action of resident bacteria. Bacterial action in the organic layer also breaks down sulfates, decreasing acidity. The layer of crushed limestone in the anoxic zone of the wetland further decreases acidity, without the threat of armoring. The CMD then flows into the perforated pipe to an outlet, where it can be aerated, held in a sedimentation pond or filtered through a wetland for the removal of any remaining metals or suspended solids.

When this system design is sited over a CMD seep, it is referred to as a reverse APS. A reverse APS is a man-made pond with a bottom layer of organic material overlain by limestone, built over a CMD seep. As the CMD seeps up through the bottom of the pond, metals are filtered and adsorbed by the organic material. Bacteria in the matted organic layer reduce metals through metabolic processes, and decrease dissolved oxygen while decomposing the organic material. Alkalinity is added to the CMD as it rises through the limestone in the anoxic zone. The treated CMD exits the system through an open channel spillway, where aeration occurs. Remaining metals in the CMD oxidize in the aerated water, precipitate and settle from the solution in a sedimentation pond.

Limitations of Alkalinity-Producing Systems

Space is a possible limitation, though space requirements are not as extensive as those encountered for wetland systems. The specific content of the various contaminants in the CMD win dictate how much area is needed for the system to achieve the desired level of treatment Topography must also be suitable to allow for flows through the treatment system. The flow rate within the system is governed by the porosity of the organic material and limestone, and it can be restricted due to clogging caused by sediment accumulation on top of the limestone and organic layers. When clogging occurs, the organic material and limestone might need to be replaced.

ACTIVE TREATMENT SYSTEMS

Active and passive CMD remediation systems usually integrate components that employ chemical, biological, and physical processes. The chemical (i.e., active) component of a CMD clean-up system involves a process in which CMD is brought into contact with an alkaline substance through direct mixing/application, or by channeling or pumping the CMD to a location where material (e.g., hydrated lime) is present. This process is designed to neutralize the acid in the CMD through the buffering action of the alkaline substance. Raising the pH of CMD is often essential for further treatment since highly acidic discharges prevent the oxidation and settling of metals in the settling pond and/or wetland component of a treatment system. High acidity can also kill the plants, aquatic organisms, and sulfate reducing bacteria found in biological systems.

Small CMD flows are often treated by mixing powdered lime or other high-pH material with the drainage water. For larger flows, a common approach is to construct a collection device for the CMD (pond or diversion ditch), channel the flow to the treatment area (a covered or open ditch containing an alkaline substance or a treatment plant designed for the specific remediation option), and then route the discharge from the treatment area to one or more settling ponds, where suspended solids and metals settle out. In some cases, additional chemicals are added to the sedimentation ponds to speed the settling process.

Six chemicals are typically used to treat CMD: limestone (calcium carbonate (CaCO3)), hydrated lime (calcium hydroxide (CaOH)), quick lime (calcium oxide, (CaO)), soda ash briquettes (sodium carbonate, (NaCO3)), caustic soda (sodium hydroxide, (NaOH)), and anhydrous ammonia (NH3)). The purpose of the alkaline chemicals is to neutralize the acidity of the CMD, which also allows dissolved metals like iron (Fe), manganese (Mg) and aluminum (Al) to solidify and settle out as a metal hydroxide sludge. Dissolved metals in the treated CMD can also be removed by an application of potassium permanganate (KmnO4), other oxidizing agents, and even aeration in the settling pond, which are all effective in precipitating iron and manganese. In situations where manganese concentrations are particularly high, caution should be exercised in using permanganate because of the possibility of adding to the concentration of manganese. In cases such as this, briquettes composed of both soda ash and potassium permanganate can be used.

Metals like iron and manganese require aeration or bacteria-induced reduction so the metal solids (precipitates) become stable compounds and settle out of the CMD. Aeration accelerates the solidification of the metals dissolved in the CMD solution after the pH is raised. In most cases, aeration is accomplished by exposing CMD to the air via the large surface areas of ponds and wetlands. The designed residence (or holding) time in settling ponds is dependent on the pH of the CMD, the concentration of dissolved metals, the ability of the pond to handle rain infiltration and resist runoff impacts, pond maintenance practices, and the amount of dissolved oxygen in the acidic solution. Mechanical aerators such as waterfalls, stair-step flumes, or other structures which cause the water to "tumble" will result in aeration. Other aeration options involve spraying CMD water into the air, or allowing the water to cascade down a sluiceway before it enters the settling pond. This can be done either before or after the neutralizing chemicals have been added to the CMD. Larger systems sometimes feature diffused air injector systems, submerged turbine generators, or surface aerators like those used at sewage treatment plants.

Active System Chemicals: Limestone

Limestone (calcium carbonate, CaCO3) is the cheapest, most stable, safest and easiest chemical substance to use. Crushed limestone is less caustic than lime, and cannot be overdosed in a CMD treatment system, so the feed rate of limestone to CMD requires minimal calibration. Limestone also creates a dense, heavy sludge that settles fast. Availability is usually no problem, and purchase, delivery, and handling costs are low. It can be stored indefinitely.

Limestone treatment of CMD can be accomplished in the presence of atmospheric oxygen (oxic) or in its absence (anoxic). If the concentration of iron and other metals is low, oxic treatment in open trenches (also called "drains") filled with crushed limestone is the preferred approach. Oxic trenches have been used in Pennsylvania, and the estimated life of the limestone material before, refilling is necessary was found to be about 5 to 10 years. However, most CMD contains moderate or elevated concentrations of dissolved metals, and allowing the limestone ent process to occur in the presence of oxygen causes a buildup of metallic hydroxide compounds on the surface of the limestone (armoring). This coating prevents the CMD from coming into contact with the limestone, which halts the treatment process.

To prevent armoring while treating CMD with high metal concentrations, anoxic limestone drains (ALDS) or pipes are used. The purpose of anoxic drains is to eliminate the presence of atmospheric oxygen by enclosing the limestone-containing trench or pipe to prevent contact with the air. If a trench is being used, it is covered with an impermeable cap, which allows a slow release of the carbonate material from the limestone without the decrease in effectiveness caused by armoring. The life of the limestone varies in accordance with the chemical content of the CMD, the flow, and the amount of limestone present.

Anoxic limestone drains are cheap and effective when the amount of dissolved oxygen in the trench and CMD is kept low (less than 2 milligrams per liter, or mg/L). The reactivity of limestone is dependent on the percent of calcium (Ca) in the CaCO3 and the size of the particles. A variation of sizes might be best. Small particles offer more surface area per volume of crushed limestone, which increases reactivity, but large particles dissolve slower, allow better flow and last longer. A mixture of particle sizes may also facilitate water movement due to greater porosity in the limestone bed.

Both oxic and anoxic approaches are often components of larger, integrated treatment systems, as noted above. The usual sequence is to provide for collection of the CMD in a pond or ditch, allow sediments and precipitated metals to settle out, route it through the limestone drains, then pass it through wetlands (see following section) for final treatment. Sometimes a settling pond is included prior to discharge to remove any remaining suspended solids.

Another approach to using limestone involves a device called a diversion well. In this approach, CMD is routed to a pipe that empties into a cylinder filled with limestone gravel. A drop of 8 feet or more is designed into the system, so that the falling water hits the limestone in the cylinder with enough force to continuously clean armoring products from the limestone. Limestone gravel in the well must be replaced every week or two. After leaving the diversion well, the CMD is usually routed to oxidizing wetlands, which remove metal hydroxides, and reducing wetlands, which reduce metals, to allow for removal of the metal hydroxides washed from the limestone and to ensure proper pH levels at final discharge. Here again, a settling pond may be used for finall sedimentation.

Some small CMD seeps are treated by constructing a limestone pond at the site. Limestone ponds have a bottom layer of crushed limestone, and they are built over the CMD seep. As the anoxic (oxygen-free) CMD seeps through the limestone, alkalinity from the limestone is added and the pH increases. After the CMD is discharged from the limestone pond, it is aerated and metals and other particles are settled out in a sedimentation pond or filtered through a wetland. Limestone ponds are often used at the source of an anoxic CMD discharge unless the metal content is low and an oxic trench would suffice. Stirring might be needed occasionally to uncover the limestone at the bottom of the pond if armoring and clogging occur, especially if the sediments block off the seep that is being treated.

Limitations of Limestone

Designing, constructing, and maintaining limestone treatment systems is expensive and involves an ongoing commitment of years, even decades. Limestone is not effective when the buffering potential (total alkalinity) of the water reaches 7.5 or greater. Limestone has a low solubility in water, which causes the reaction rate to be slow. The rate will decrease further if oxygen is present and iron concentrations are above 5 mg/L as a result of the limestone becoming armored. Preventing armoring in anoxic trenches or pipes can be quite involved, and ff armoring occurs, removing the cap and replacing or washing the limestone material represents a considerable task.

When concentrations of sulfate (SO4) are above 2,000 mg/L, a reaction occurs between the limestone and sulfate that produces a solid gypsum (calcium sulfate, CaSO4) precipitate. This precipitate, deposited in the form of a sludge, is insoluble and can cause clogging between the limestone rock or in the pipes. Another possible drawback of limestone treatment is calcium hardness in the effluent which is contributed by the Ca (calcium) atoms in the CaCO3 (limestone). The approach is expensive, but not as costly as some other options.

Active System Chemicals: Hydrated Lime

Hydrated lime (Ca(OH)2) is another reagent commonly used to treat CMD. During the treatment process, the hydrated lime is usually mixed into a slurry/suspension using the raw mine water. It can be applied in either dry or liquid form, is safe to handle, and is fairly inexpensive. Hydrated lime is cost-effective when the CMD has a large flow and high acidity, and requires treatment for an extended period of time (more than 3 years). It has been proven effective for extreme conditions, such as a flow rate of 1,000 gallons per minute (gpm) and acidity of 2,500 mg/L. The product is often mixed with CMD in a treatment plant or small mixing device regulated by e flow. When ferrous iron (Fe2+) concentrations are high, hydrated lime is often used with an aerator to add oxygen (02) to the water. The ferrous iron oxidizes to form ferric iron (Fe3+), which precipitates out into a solid at a lower pH. This process reduces the amount of hydrated lime needed to remove the iron from the CMD.

Limitations of Hydrated Lime

Extensive mixing is required for the hydrated lime to become soluble in water. When sulfate concentrations in the CMD are greater than 2,500 mg/L, an insoluble gypsum precipitate can be produced as a sludge, which can cause flow or deposit problems that could clog the system. Finally, the sludge produced in a hydrated lime system is not very dense and does not settle out completely. This fluffiness makes it difficult to handle during sludge cleaning.

Active System Chemicals: Quick Lime

Quick lime (CaO) is very reactive and economical It can be used for small and/or periodic flows having high acidity. Metering equipment is needed, so quick lime may not be appropriate in remote areas. The product is less expensive than sodium-based neutralizing chemicals. About half the weight of quick lime is needed to neutralizing a given quantity of acid compared to crushed limestone or soda ash.

Limitations of Quick Lime

Quick lime is seldom used in industry for permanent treatment systems because of the formation of gypsum (CaSO4), which precipitates out of the CMD through a chemical reaction between the calcium (Ca) and sulfate (SO4) in the C'MD. The formation of this sludge-like precipitate can result in clogging of conduits in the treatment system. In addition, handling of quick lime can be a problem because of the heat generated as it reacts with water. Serious burning of the eyes can also be problem in using this dusty, flour-like product.

Active System Chemicals: Soda Ash

Soda ash (NaCO3), in either a bri4uette or slurry form, is commonly used to treat CMD characterized by low flow rates and low acidity. The briquettes are easier to handle than some calcium-based neutralizing chemicals. Treatment systems are designed so the CMD flows over the briquettes in a box or other structure. Soda ash briquettes can be used in remote areas, again mostly for short-term applications to CMD discharges marked by low flow and low concentrations of acidity and metals.

Limitations of Soda Ash

When the concentration of iron is greater than 10 or 20 mg/L, a mixing system is needed to increase efficiency. Soda ash briquettes have a lower solubility and a higher cost when compared to other sodium-based neutralizing chemicals (i.e., caustic soda).

Active System Chemicals: Caustic Soda

Caustic soda raises the pH of the CMD rapidly due to its high solubility and quick dispersion. It is often used in temporary treatment of low flows with high acidity, or in treatment of high manganese concentrations. A common use of caustic soda is to boost pH values well beyond neutral (pH = 7) and on up to the fairly alkaline 10.0 range. This approach is used to achieve quick precipitation of dissolved manganese in the CMD. Manganese precipitation is fairly slow at pH readings of less than 8.0. Raising the pH to 8.0 and higher allows some buffering downs if other small CMD flows combine with the treatment system discharge.

Limitations of Caustic Soda

Caustic soda produces a ferric hydroxide (FeOH3) sludge that has a gel-like consistency. It is a little more expensive than some other chemical approaches, and caution must be used when handling the chemical to prevent excessive application. Caustic soda can rapidly raise the pH level to extremely high alkaline values. In cold conditions, caustic soda can freeze and be difficult to handle.

Active System Chemicals: Anhydrous Ammonia

Anhydrous ammonia (NH3) is commonly used in West Virginia and other states to treat small discharges through direct application. Application rates are computed by considering the volume, flow, and pH of the discharge to be treated. This product, which acts as a weak base, can cause serious bums if it gets into the eyes. Care must be taken when handling ammonia products.

Drawbacks to Active Chemical Treatment

Actively applied chemical treatment is only a temporary solution to the problem, since it does not eliminate the source of the CMD or prevent its formation. Applied or mixed chemical treatment requires constant maintenance and is relatively expensive. Passive treatment with limestone trenches or ponds is also a temporary solution; however, is more cost effective and requires less maintenance (see following sections). The metals and other precipitation products that settle from the CMD in the holding ponds or wetlands can contain high levels of toxic compounds. In this case, the sludge must be disposed of in a manner that ensures it will not contribute to water pollution after it is removed. Sometimes the sludge can be buried in specially designed containment areas near the treatment site, as long as care is taken to minimize the infiltration of rain water and exposure of the sludge to the weather. Sludge disposal can add considerable cost and ongoing maintenance requirements to a CMD remediation project.

RECLAMATION AND REMEDIATION

Prevention, of course, is the prefer-red method for dealing with CMD. Preventing the formation of contaminated drainage involves reducing or eliminating contact between acidic or metallic wastes and precipitation or stream flows. This can be accomplished by capping waste piles to prevent rain infiltration or by re-routing streams to avoid contact with CMD sources. Neutralizing wastes through the mixing of acidic wastes and those with e properties also helps prevent CMD formation. Finally, analyses of CMD discharge sites sometimes finds that sites can be filled, sealed, or remined to prevent CMD from forming. These situations are highly site-specific and require the services of engineering and geological professionals.

Filling and Sealing

If field investigation determines rainwater is flowing into underground mineworks through identifiable openings at the surface, it might be possible to fill and/or seal the openings to prevent infiltration and eventual formation of CMD. Tracer dye tests can indicate whether infiltration points such as cracks, holes, or mine shaft openings are creating a CMD discharge at another location. In general, the best approach is to seal off any openings that lead into underground mineworks to prevent rain infiltration. Likewise, any channelized flows of storm water that disappear into mine area cracks or shafts should be diverted so they do not flow through iron sulfide material and generate CMD.

Remining

In some cases, there is still recoverable coal in the vicinity of CMD discharges. As your group investigates and maps CMD sites, it is important to note the names and addresses of property owners in site investigation records. Before CMD sites are scheduled for expensive treatment system construction, it might be worthwhile to have a geologist determine whether enough coal is present at the site to justify remining. Some old mines were worked before the development of modem equipment, so it is possible that significant coal reserves are still present. The remining contractors would be charged with ensuring that the remining operations prevent the generation of CMD by incorporating careful planning, engineering, and operational approaches into the remining work. The isolation or neutralization of CMD-producing earthen wastes is accomplished by mixing acidic and alkaline wastes in a manner that prevents CMD formation, or by isolating problem wastes beneath impermeable caps.

The Clean Water Act allows less stringent limits for remining activities, but water quality standards must not be violated. This has created an obstacle for some remining operations, and officials from EPA and OSM are exploring regulatory approaches to promote remining as a no-cost CMD clean-up option while minimizing water quality impacts. As with all mine permitting processes, it is important for concerned citizens to monitor remining permit proceedings to ensure that all necessary consideration is given to site-specific conditions, water resource protection, adequate bonding and insurance, and reclamation provisions.

[Home] [Master Plan] [Map] [Photo Gallery]
[Bank Stabilization Projects]
[Deadwood Removal Days] [Discovery Day 2000] [Scrape, Paint & Clean Day 2000
[Historic Fraterville Mine Disaster Field Trip 2001] [Fraterville Mine Disaster 100th Anniversary]
[Coal Creek War and Mining Disasters] [Mine Reclamation Lessons]
[CMD] [Economic Benefits] [Motor Discovery Trail] [Historic Cemeteries]
[Partners] [Schools in Watershed] [Mark the Trail Day]
[Awards] [Coal Creek Health Days]
[Briceville School History Field Trips] [Ghost Stories]
[Trout Stuff] [Join Us] [Eastern Coal Region Roundtable]
[Articles in the News] [Dream Contest]

CopyrightŠ Coal Creek Watershed Foundation, Inc. 2000 through 2016
CELEBRATING OUR 16th YEAR!!