Impact of Mining Dump on the Accumulation and Mobility of Metals in the Bytomka River Sediments

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Abstract

The research aim was to determine the long-term impact of the mine waste stored at the coal waste dump Hałda Ruda on the content of heavy metals in the bottom sediments of the Bytomka River. It is a watercourse flowing along this coal waste dump and has been under its influence for over fifty years. The research also attempted to determine the seasonality of changes (2 years) and mobility of selected elements.

The article presents total contents of Cr, Mn, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Cd and Pb in the bottom sediments collected from the Bytomka River. It also focuses on the distribution of these elements in particular geochemical fractions determined with the Tessier's sequential chemical extraction procedure. Total element contents were determined with an EDPXRF (Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence) technique. The extractants of particular Tessier's fractions were determined quantitatively with an ICP-MS (Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry) spectrometer. The research results show that the stored waste significantly influences the contents of heavy metals in the Bytomka River bottom sediments. The lowest concentration of heavy metals was observed at the B1 spot (above the dump), while the highest one was measured at the B3 spot (below the dump).

Sequential chemical extraction of the bottom sediments indicates that the Zn content in the ion-exchange and carbonate fractions diminished within a year. Nevertheless, Zn bound to Fe and Mn oxides acted in the opposite way. Mn, Zn and Pb are the most dangerous elements from the viewpoint of environmental hazards, as their total concentrations were high. Moreover, their high contents were observed in the most mobile (ion-exchange and carbonate) fractions. Extremely toxic Cd was bound to the oxide fraction to the largest extent. Cu was mainly bound to the organic fraction while environmentally hazardous Cr was bound to the residual fraction.

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