Groundwater: Mining Pollution

Authored by: Jeffrey G. Skousen , George F. Vance

Encyclopedia of Environmental Management

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  December  2012

Print ISBN: 9781439829271
eBook ISBN: 9781351235860
Adobe ISBN:


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Mining operations can influence groundwater quantity and quality by altering flow paths and underground water movement and by introducing contaminants into the water. In the United States, the Safe Water Drinking Act was passed to protect groundwater quality by regulating the maximum contaminant loadings that can be discharged or released into groundwater resources. Substances that degrade groundwaters include nutrients, salts, heavy metals, trace elements, and organic chemicals, as well as contaminants such as radionuclides, carcinogens, pathogens, and petroleum wastes. If contaminants are detected, the extent and degree of the contamination must be determined, and remediation strategies should be selected based on the type of contaminant, its location in the water system, and its potential hazards to human life and other organisms. Remediation strategies include the following: 1) containment; 2) in-situ treatment; and 3) pump-and-treat methods.

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