British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Passive and semi-passive treatment alternatives for the bioremediation of selenium from mine waters Martin, Alan J.; Jones, Ron; Buckwalter-Davis, Martha


The bioremediation of selenium (Se) from mine waters using passive systems (those requiring negligible management) and semi-passive systems (those requiring active management to sustain desired conditions and processes) is reviewed. Examples of passive systems include natural wetlands, constructed surface-flow wetlands, constructed subsurface-flow wetlands and permeable reactive barriers (PRB). Examples of semi-passive systems, such as in situ pit lake treatment, require active management that may involve periodic amendments (e.g., organic carbon, nutrients) to stimulate desired microbial mechanisms. In all cases, Se bioremediation relies primarily upon microbial and/or biological processes to remove Se from solution, including plant uptake, precipitation (e.g., in situ formation of elemental Se), adsorption, microbial/algal assimilation and biological volatilization (e.g., release of dimethyl selenide to atmosphere). Case studies that describe field-scale examples of passive and semi-passive bioremediation for Se are presented. Considerations for Se bioremediation in interior temperate climates (e.g. Elk River Valley region) as they relate to constructed/natural wetlands, pond environments (e.g. sedimentation ponds), pit lakes and PRBs are discussed. Key words: selenium, bioremediation, passive, semi-passive, mining

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