Contamination of Forest Soils in the Vicinity of the Sedimentation Pond after Zinc and Lead Ore Flotation (in the Region of Olkusz, Southern Poland)
In the technological processes of ore flotation in the non-ferrous metal industry flotation, tailings constitute up to 98% of the total of the processed material. They are stored in sedimentation ponds as fine-grained drift containing an excess of heavy metals, mainly zinc, cadmium, lead and copper. After the dehydration and drying up of the surface of sedimentation ponds, these metals are carried with dust by the wind and they are accumulated in the vicinity of the ponds in humus horizons of soils causing considerable degradation and even devastation. In this publication, we have presented the results of research on the negative influence of such a structure on the soils of an adjacent fragment of forest and its dependence on the distance from the sedimentation pond. The level of degradation of the soils under research has been assessed on the basis of changes and transformations of the morphological soil profiles, the level of alkalization and accumulation of heavy metals (Zn, Pb, Cd) in the topsoil layers and their translocation in the soil horizons. The following soils have been distinguished in the investigated area: Haplic Podzols distorted and degraded as well as Urbic Anthrosols. The acquired results have served to depict the spatial accumulation of these heavy metals in the topsoil layers. The highest accumulation of heavy metals and the degradation of the forest sites connected with it has occurred in the vicinity of a sedimentation pond drain channel. Soil remediation has been recommended in this area.
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