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A project was undertaken to reconstruct and improve a failed wetlands treatment system (WTS) for acid mine drainage (AMD) from an abandoned pyritic mineral mine. The original WTS consisted of eight successive alkalinity producing system (SAPS) wetland cells in series, a technology specifically developed for treatment of AMD. The AMD at this site has dissolved iron and acidity concentrations that are roughly an order of magnitude greater than typical AMD found at coal mines in the region. The high iron loading was primarily responsible for the failure of the original WTS. The remote site location precluded installation of any system that required electricity or significant operator attention. These problems were solved by reconstructing the WTS up to current design standards and by installing a waterwheel-driven quicklime feeder system followed by a riprap-lined aeration/mixing channel and earthen settling basins to remove approximately 90% of the influent iron and acidity before treatment in the WTS. The waterwheel quicklime (CaO) feeder system wasselected after bench scale demonstrated that direct quicklime addition to the AMD would work nearly as well as hydrated lime addition. Other tests demonstrated that an anoxic limestone drain technology (another passive alkalinity addition system) would not work at this site due to high influent ferric iron and aluminum concentrations, which cause rapid fouling and plugging of these systems.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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