, Volume 249, Issue 1, pp 203-215

Using municipal biosolids in combination with other residuals to restore metal-contaminated mining areas

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High metal waste materials from historic mining at the Bunker Hill, Idaho (ID) Superfund site was amended with a range of materials including municipal biosolids, woody debris, wood ash, pulp and paper sludge, and compost. The existing soil or waste material has elevated metal concentrations with total Zn, Pb and Cd ranging from 6000 to 14 700, 2100 to 27 000 and 9 to 28 mg kg−1, respectively. Surface application of certain amendments including biosolids mixed with wood ash resulted in significant decreases in subsoil acidity as well as subsoil extractable metals. This mixture was sufficient to restore a plant cover to the contaminated areas. At the Bunker Hill site, a surface application of high N biosolids (44 or 66 tons ha−1) in combination with wood ash (220 tons ha−1) with or without log yard debris (20% by volume) or pulp and paper sludge (44 tons ha−1) was able to restore a vegetative cover to the metal contaminated materials for 2 years following amendment application. Plant biomass in 1999 was 0.01 mg ha−1 in the control versus a mean of 3.4 tons ha−1 in the residual amended plots. Metal concentrations of the vegetation indicated that plants were within normal concentrations for the 2 years that data were collected. Surface application of amendments was also able to reduce Ca(NO3)2 extractable Zn in the subsoil from about 50 mg kg−1in the control to less than 4 mg kg−1in two of the treatments. Use of conventional amendments including lime alone and microbial stimulants were not sufficient to support plant growth. These results indicate that surface application of biosolids in combination with other residuals is sufficient to restore a vegetative cover to high metal mine wastes.