Excess phosphorus (P) inputs from human sewage, animal feeding operations, and nonpoint source discharges to the environment have resulted in the eutrophication of sensitive receiving bodies of water such as the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay. Phosphorus loads in wastewater discharged from such sources can be decreased by conventional treatment with iron and aluminum salts but these chemical reagents are expensive or impractical for many applications.
Acid mine drainage (AMD) sludges are an inexpensive source of iron and aluminum hydrous oxides that could offer an attractive alternative to chemical
reagent dosing for the removal of P from local wastewater. Previous investigations have focused on AMD sludges generated in the bituminous coal region of western Pennsylvania, and confirmed that some of those sludges are good sorbents for P over a wide range of operating conditions. In this study, we
sampled sludges produced by AMD treatment at six different sites in the anthracite region of Pennsylvania for potential use as P sequestration sorbents.
Sludge samples were dried, characterized, and then tested for P removal from water. In addition, the concentrations of acid-extractable metals and other impurities were investigated. Test results revealed that sludges from four of the sites showed good P sorption and were unlikely to add contaminants to treated
water. These results indicate that AMD sludges could be beneficially used to sequester P from the environment, while at the same time decreasing the expense
of sludge disposal.