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Passive treatment of acidic mine waters in subsurface-flow systems: Exploring RAPS and permeable reactive barriers

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Paul Younger, Andrew Daugherty, Lawrence Bowden, Professor Andrew Aplin


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It is now clear that the most effective passive treatment pathways for acidic mine waters require anoxic conditions, in which carbonate dissolution can occur in the absence of Fe3+ and/or bacterial sulphate reduction can occur, removing pollutant metals as sulphides, generating bicarbonate alkalinity and raising pH. By mimicking nature, it is most appropriate to achieve and maintain suitably anoxic conditions by designing treatment system hydraulics such that they are based on subsurface flow through porous media. Some of the challenges involved in this activity are discussed here, such as: - predicting and prescribing the permeability of manure-based composts; - matching sufficiently high permeability with a high enough organic matter content to ensure microbial activity; - geometrical considerations in systems design. The ways in which such challenges have been overcome in recent designs are discussed in relation to the Bowden Close RAPS system in County Durham and the Shilbottle PRB (permeable reactive barrier) in Northumberland. These two systems form nuclei of the new National Mine Site Remediation Research Facility (NMSRF) sponsored by CL:AIRE, and are study sites for the new DTi Bioremediation LINK project 'ASURE', which concerns bioremediation of acidic mine waters by sulphate reduction in novel, compost-based, field-scale bioreactors.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Younger PL, Jayaweera A, Elliot A, Wood R, Amos P, Daugherty AJ, Martin A, Bowden LI, Aplin AC, Johnson D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Land Contamination and Reclamation

Year: 2003

Volume: 11

Issue: 2

Pages: 127-136

ISSN (print): 0967-0513

ISSN (electronic):


DOI: 10.2462/09670513.806


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