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Aquatic hazard of selenium pollution from coal mining.

Author: Lemly, Dennis A.;

Date: 2009

Source: Book Chapter In: In: Fosdyke, Gerald B. ed. Coal Mining: Research, Technology and Safety.

Publication Series: Book


Selenium is a chemical element that is found in coal in small amounts. The potential for environmental problems begins when coal-bearing strata are exposed to air and water during the mining process, and when coal is washed prior to transport and distribution. This can mobilize selenium and form contaminated leachate and liquid waste, which often becomes a source of pollution to nearby surface waters. Once in the aquatic environment, selenium can rapidly bioaccumulate in food chains and reach levels that are toxic to aquatic life. Because of bioaccumulation, a small amount of selenium in water can translate to a significant environmental hazard. Case examples show that selenium from coal mining can result in a variety of impacts to fish, ranging from subtle effects on growth to severe deformities and complete reproduction failure. However, despite this negative implication, coal mining can be compatible with the environmental needs if adequate steps are taken to prevent or reduce hazard. From prospective mines, this involves conducting a detailed site assessment and then matching operational parameters with environmental requirements. For active or decommissioned mines it is necessary to formulate and implement appropriate waste management and site reclamation plans.

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Lemly, A. Dennis. 2009. Aquatic hazard of selenium pollution from coal mining. In: Fosdyke, Gerald B. ed. Coal Mining: Research, Technology and Safety. 167-183. Chapter 6. Nova Science Publishers, Inc. 17p.


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