Mining-related sediment and soil contamination in a large Superfund site: Characterization, habitat implications, and remediation

Environmental Management
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Abstract

Historical mining activity (1850–1970) in the now inactive Tri-State Mining District provided an ongoing source of lead and zinc to the environment including the US Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site located in Cherokee County, southeast Kansas, USA. The resultant contamination adversely affected biota and caused human health problems and risks. Remediation in the Superfund site requires an understanding of the magnitude and extent of contamination. To provide some of the required information, a series of sediment and soil investigations were conducted in and near the Superfund site to characterize lead and zinc contamination in the aquatic and floodplain environments along the main-stem Spring River and its major tributaries. In the Superfund site, the most pronounced lead and zinc contamination, with concentrations that far exceed sediment quality guidelines associated with potential adverse biological effects, was measured for streambed sediments and floodplain soils located within or downstream from the most intensive mining-affected areas. Tributary streambeds and floodplains in affected areas are heavily contaminated with some sites having lead and zinc concentrations that are an order of magnitude (or more) greater than the sediment quality guidelines. For the main-stem Spring River, the streambed is contaminated but the floodplain is mostly uncontaminated. Measured lead and zinc concentrations in streambed sediments, lakebed sediments, and floodplain soils documented a persistence of the post-mining contamination on a decadal timescale. These results provide a basis for the prioritization, development, and implementation of plans to remediate contamination in the affected aquatic and floodplain environments within the Superfund site.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Mining-related sediment and soil contamination in a large Superfund site: Characterization, habitat implications, and remediation
Series title Environmental Management
DOI 10.1007/s00267-016-0729-8
Volume 58
Issue 4
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Kansas Water Science Center
Description 20 p.
First page 721
Last page 740
Country United States
State Kansas
County Cherokee County
Other Geospatial Spring River
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N