Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 135, Issue 1–4, pp 371–388 | Cite as

Environmental Impacts of Acid Leachate Derived from Coal-Storage Piles upon Groundwater

  • Angie M. Cook
  • Steven J. Fritz


Leachate emanating from a coal-storage area at an electricutility plant in Northwest Indiana (U.S.A.) is impacting groundwater quality. This assessment is based on results of along-term groundwater monitoring program conducted at Purdue University's Wade Utility Plant where a monthly average of 32,000metric tons of both high- and low-sulfur coal are stored. Groundwater from both a perched and major aquifer (the WabashValley Aquifer) as well as surface water from a large retentionpond were sampled monthly for 34 consecutive months. Such a long-term, continuous sampling scheme proved beneficial in identifying seasonal trends and anomalies within the chemistryof ground- and surface waters. Data show elevated concentrationsof sulfate and hardness in the perched zones and the WabashValley Aquifer (WVA). Lead in the WVA has also been reported ata concentration greater than the state maximum contaminant level, while several metals (Be, Cd, Cu, Pb, Ni, Se, and Zn) containedwithin retention-pond sediments have the highest concentrationsin aquatic sediments ever reported within the State of Indiana.Due to the buffering capacity of carbonate minerals in underlyingunconsolidated deposits, the acidic pH of coal-pile leachate is raised to values typical for groundwater in carbonate terrain common in Northwest Indiana. Further ameliorating the input of acid percolation is the dilution capabilities of both the WVA and the recharge pond. Hence, sites without such advantages would exhibit a greater degree of groundwater contamination than what is observed at Purdue's coal-storage facility.

acidity coal coal storage groundwater leachate power plant 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Purdue UniversityWest LafayetteU.S.A

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