This page contains information on composting technologies that is applicable to addressing contamination at abandoned mine land sites.
Compost versus Biosolids
Compost is the product resulting from the controlled biological decomposition of organic material that has been sanitized through the generation of heat and stabilized to the point that it is beneficial to plant growth. Compost contains plant nutrients, but bears little physical resemblance to the raw material from which it originated and is not typically characterized as a fertilizer.
- Adapted from the US Composting Council's Field Guide to Compost Use
Biosolids are the nutrient-rich organic materials resulting from the treatment of sewage sludge. Sewage sludge is the solid, semisolid or liquid untreated residue generated during the treatment of domestic sewage in a treatment facility.
- From EPA's Biosolids Program
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General Composting Information
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Composting at Mine Sites
- EPA. The Use of Soil Amendments for Remediation, Revitalization, and Reuse (PDF) (59pp, 1.7MB). Office of Solid Waste, Technology Innovation Program.
- Perez-de-Mora, A., P. Burgos, E. Madejon, F. Cabrera, P. Jaeckel, M. Schloter. Microbial Community Structure and Function in a Soil Contaminated by Heavy Metals: Effects of Plant Growth and Different Amendments. (Abstract, with option to buy full text ). Soil Biology & Biochemistry 38 (2): 327-341. February 2006.
- Gibert, O., J. de Pablo, J.L. Cortina, C. Ayora. Municipal Compost-Based Mixture for Acid Mine Drainage Bioremediation: Metal Retention Mechanisms. (Abstract, with option to buy full text ). Applied Geochemistry 20 (9): 1648-1657. September 2005.
- Neagoe, A., G. Ebena, E. Carlsson. The Effect of Soil Amendments on Plant Performance in an Area Affected by Acid Mine Drainage. (Abstract, with option to buy full text ). Chemie Der. Erde-Geochemistry 65: 115-129 Suppl. 1. September 2005.
- Gibert, O., J. de Pablo, J.L. Cortina, C. Ayora. Sorption Studies of Zn (II) and Cu (II) onto Vegetal Compost Used on Reactive Mixtures for In Situ Treatment of Acid Mine Drainage. (Abstract, with option to buy full text ). Water Research 39 (13): 2827-2838. August 2005.
- Brunori, C., C. Cremisini, L. D'Annibale, P. Massanisso. A Kinetic Study of Trace Element Leachability from Abandoned-Mine-Polluted Soil Treated with SS-MSW Compost and Red Mud. Comparison with Results from Sequential Extraction. (Abstract, with option to buy full text ). Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 381 (7): 1347-1354. April 2005.
- Mercuri, A.M., J.A. Duggin, C.D. Grant. The Use of Saline Mine Water and Municipal Wastes to Establish Plantations on Rehabilitated Open-Cut Coal Mines, Upper Hunter Valley NSW, Australia. (Abstract, with option to buy full text ). Forest Ecology and Management 204 (2-3): 195-207. January 17, 2005.
- Brown, Sally L., Charles L. Henry, Harry Compton, Rufus L. Chaney and Pamnella DeVolder. Using Municipal Biosolids in Combination with other Residuals to Restore Metal-Contaminated Mining Areas (PDF) (11 pp, 102K) University of Washington. February 2003.
- Ziemkiewicz, Paul F., Jeffery G. Skousen, Jennifer S. Simmons. Long-Term Performance of Passive Acid Mine Drainage Treatment Systems (PDF) (12 pp, 1.4MB) West Virginia University. 2002.
- Winter Sydnor, M. E., E.F. Redente. Reclamation of High-Elevation, Acidic Mine Waste with Organic Amendments and Topsoil Journal of Environmental Quality 31 (5): 1528-1537. September - October 2002.
- Jenness, Nathan. Mine Reclamation Using Biosolids (PDF) (43 pp, 1.4MB) University of Arizona. 2001.
- EPA. Poland Biosolids Smelter Waste Reclamation Project (PDF) (6 pp, 395K). Office of Water. EPA 832-R-00-009. 2000.
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Chemical Bonding Capabilities
- Chiu, K.K., Z.H. Ye, M.H. Wong. Growth of Vetiveria zizanioides and Phragmities australis on Pb/Zn and Cu Mine Tailings Amended with Manure Compost and Sewage Sludge: A Greenhouse Study. (Abstract, with option to buy full text ). Bioresource Technology 97 (1): 158-170. January 2006.
- Garrido, S., G.M. Del Campo, M.V. Esteller, R. Vaca, J. Lugo. Heavy Metals in Soil Treated with Sewage Sludge Composting, their Effect on Yield and Uptake of Broad Bean Seeds (Vicia faba L.). (Abstract, with option to buy full text ). Water Air and Soil Pollution 166 (1-4): 303-319. September 2005.
- Brown, Sally L., Rufus Chaney, Judith Hallfrisch, James A. Ryan, and William R. Berti. In Situ Soil Treatments to Reduce the Phyto- and Bioavailability of Lead, Zinc, and Cadmium (PDF) (10 pp, 178K) Journal of Environmental Quality 33:522-531. 2004.
- Brown, Sally L., Rufus L. Chaney, Judith G. Hallfrisch and Qi Xue. Heavy Metals in the Environment - Effect of Biosolids Processing on Lead Bioavailability in an Urban Soil Journal of Environmental Quality 32:100-108. 2003.
- EPA. An Analysis of Composting as an Environmental Remediation Technology (PDF) (9 pp, 1MB). Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. EPA530-R-98-008. April 1998.
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Slope Stability and Erosion Control
- Barkley, Timothy. Erosion Control with Recycled Materials. US Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. March/April 2004.
- Demars, K.R., R.P. Long, J.R. Ives. Erosion Control Using Wood Waste Materials. (Abstract, with option to buy full text ). Compost Science & Utilization 12 (1): 35-47. Winter 2004.
- Glanville, Thomas D., Tom L. Richard, Russell A. Persyn. Impacts of Compost Blankets on Erosion Control, Revegetation, and Water Quality at Highway Construction Sites in Iowa (PDF) (8 pp, 108K) Iowa State University. 2003.
- Legacy, D., S.A. McCoy. Vegetation Success - Contractor Counts on Compost for Slope Stabilization. Biocycle 44 (7): 29-30. July 2003.
- Meyer, V.F., E. F. Redente, K. A. Barbarick and R. Brobst. Biosolids Applications Affect Runoff Water Quality following Forest Fire (PDF) (5 pp, 67K) Journal of Environmental Quality 30:1528-1532. 2001.
- EPA. Compost - New Applications for an Old Technology. Office of Solid Waste Emergency Response. EPA 530-F-97-047. October 1997.
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Revegetation Using Compost
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EPA. Environmental Response Television (ERTV) series. Biosolids Recycling: Restore, Reclaim, Remediate (ERTV) - A video presentation produced by the U.S. EPA Environmental Response Program.
Program Description: Sewage treatment results in wastewater being recycled to the environment, but the solids removed from wastewater can also be processed and turned into a nutrient rich fertilizer. Todays primary use of this fertilizer is to restore overworked agricultural soils, but research by the USDA and the USEPA/ERT has now opened the way for use of biosolids to reclaim lands destroyed by mining.
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Other Related Uses
- Johnson, D. Barrie and Kevin B. Hallberg. Biogeochemistry of the Compost Bioreactor Components of a Composite Acid Mine Drainage Passive Remediation System (Abstract, with option to buy full text ). Science of The Total Environment Volume 338, Issues 1-2, 1. Pages 81-93. February 2005.
- Inkret, John, Bernie Jensen, Doug Richmond. Using Topsoil as a Microbial Inoculant. 2003 National Meeting of the American Society of Mining and Reclamation and the 9th Billings Land Reclamation Symposium. 2003.
- EPA Mine Waste Technology Program. Improvements in Engineered Bioremediation of Acid Mine Drainage. Mine Waste Technology Program 2003 Annual Report, Activity III Project 24. DW89938870-01-0. 2003.
- EPA Mine Waste Technology Program. Integrated Passive Biological Treatment Process Demonstration. Mine Waste Technology Program 2003 Annual Report, Activity III, Project 16. DW89938870-01-0. 2003.
- EPA Mine Waste Technology Program. Anaerobic Compost Constructed Wetlands System Technology - SITE ITER. National Risk Management Research Laboratory. EPA/540/R-02/506. December 2002.
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Other Technical Resources
California Gulch (CO)
Before: Historic gold, silver, zinc and lead mining operations