Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: April 1, 2001
Publication Date: July 28, 2001
Historically, hard rock mining wastes and smelting have caused severely adverse effects on the environment. These materials are unable to support plant growth due to poor physical properties, low nutrient status, acidity, and potentially phytotoxic metal concentrations. Conventional restoration has involved use of metal tolerant species or physical capping of the effected areas. Biosolids or biosolids compost plus limestone have been used to restore coal mines as well as other disturbed sites, and with the evidence that inorganic materials in biosolids limited metal availability, it appeared that biosolids in combination with high calcium carbonate equivalent residuals have the potential to restore a vegetative cover on metal mine tailings. Application of a biosolids plus lime to these materials should reduce metal availability, increase soil pH, provide basic nutrients and improve the physical properties of the soil. We tested this method of remediation at both upland, mountainside, and wetland contaminated sites at the Bunker Hill, ID, Superfund site. Biosolids and wood ash were tested to see if they could be used in place of applying 1 m of topsoil substitute to cap such soils; adapted vegetation for these locations were seeded. Three years after treatment, all sites tested are well revegetated with biomass safe for consumption by wildlife for their lifetime; on sites which had been barren for over 30 years. Thus, application of biosolids and lime equivalent are shown to be a less expensive and highly effective method to restore vegetative cover to high metal mine waste materials in both upland and wetland environments.