By Nick Cato, Shahid Mahmud
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Extra resources for Abandoned Mine Site Characterization and Cleanup Handbook
Contamination can also occur when there is an hydraulic connection between surface and ground water. Any of these can cause elevated pollutant levels in ground water. Further, disturbance in the ground water flow regime may affect the quantities of water available for other local uses. In addition, contaminated ground water may discharge to surface water down gradient of the mine, as contributions to base flow in a stream channel or springs. Dissolved pollutants at a mine site are primarily metals but may include sulfates, nitrates, and radionuclides; these contaminants, once dissolved, can migrate from mining operations to local ground and surface water (contamination of surface water may also occur as contaminated soil or waste materials are eroded and washed into water bodies).
The values and choices of each of these stakeholders is a very important and necessary part of the goal-setting and decisionmaking process as determinations regarding the merits, cost-effectiveness and implementing of studies and remediation are made. 3 Getting it Done An excellent publication is available to support goal-setting efforts, entitled “Watershed Partnerships: A Strategic Guide for Local Conservation Efforts in the West,” prepared for the Western Governors Association, 1997. The report states: Watersheds serve as a useful unit of focus for a number of reasons.
While the majority of these sites are not believed to present significant environmental problems, there are, nonetheless, many sites that do create significant impacts. In addition to the impacts of individual mine sites, the cumulative impact of multiple sites within a historic mining district often has the potential to impair beneficial uses of local surface and groundwater. Highlight 3-1 Major categories of mining impacts: C Acid Drainage C Metals contamination of ground/surface water and sediments C Sedimentation C Cyanide C Air emissions and deposition C Physical impacts A variety of environmental impacts may occur at an abandoned mine site.
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