Impact of a Commercial Peat Moss Operation on Water Quality and Biota in a Small Tributary of the Richibucto River, Kent County, New Brunswick, Canada
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The St-Charles Plain (Kent County, New Brunswick, Canada) commercial peat moss operation has been ongoing since 1983. To process the peat, a dry extraction method is used that requires extensive drainage of the peat bog. The water is directed toward sedimentation ponds, where it drains into a small brook, which feeds into a river affected by tidal salt water. Water discharge from the bog contains large amounts of peat particles that deposit in the surrounding watershed. As a result, the pH of the freshwater sites that receive the drainage water from the commercial operation, is fairly acidic (pH 3.9–4.7). Water samples from or near the peat moss operation have a higher concentration of total phosphorous and total organic carbon. The peat particles contain relatively high levels of total mercury, as reflected by analysis of peat sediments. However, the water samples contained low levels of dissolved mercury. Indigenous samples of biota—namely, sand shrimps (Crangon septemspinosa) and mummichogs (Fundulus heteroclitus)—did not contain mercury levels higher in the impacted sites than in the reference sites. Introduced blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) did not accumulate significant amounts of mercury during a 62-day exposure in the study area. Overall, the data suggest that although relatively large amounts of mercury-containing peat particles are discharged into the ecosystem, bioaccumulation of mercury in the biota does not occur.
KeywordsMercury Total Organic Carbon Total Mercury Mercury Level Mytilus Edulis
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