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University of Arizona

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Superfund Research Program

Remediating Mine Waste Products

Project Leader: Martha H. Conklin
Grant Number: P42ES004940
Funding Period: 2000 - 2005

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Project Summary (2000-2005)

There are numerous active, inactive, and abandoned sites associated with metal extraction in the western United States. In the State of Arizona alone, there are, in addition to active mining operations, an estimated 60,000 to 100,000 inactive and abandoned mines that have contributed to pollution of about 320 km of surface water systems in Arizona (Frisch-Gleason, 1995). The objective of this project is to develop cost-effective methods to monitor the transport of mining wastes in perennial and intermittent streams. Researchers contend that passive collection devices for metal(loid)s sampling in combination with arrays of innovative flow meters would provide the means for realizing cost-effective monitoring of loadings of metal contaminants into mining-impacted stream systems. They developed prototypes of the flow meters and currently are developing passive collection devices for metal(loid)s. This type of instrumentation could be operated on-site or by remote means for short- or long-term monitoring of contaminated streams and, thus, provide critical data on the variability of transport of metal(loid) contaminants in stream systems in the semi-arid Southwest. Researchers will test the passive metal samplers at Pinal Creek, a State of Arizona Water Quality Revolving Fund (WQARF) Registry site, with copper mining-related surface water/groundwater contamination. Tests of the innovative flow meters at additional sites are also planned to more fully demonstrate the range of surface water velocities and flows they can monitor.

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