Water quality and mine acid rock drainage

acid rock drainageOur guest blogger from Alaska, Maricarmen Cruz-Guilloty, highlights this upcoming conference call seminar on how acid rock drainage from mining affects water chemistry and environmental health.  The Wednesday, April 30 teleconference will explore how acid rock drainage is one of the major sources of toxic metals associated with mining.  When waste rock excavated from a mine is exposed to air and water, it chemically reacts to form sulfuric acid by essentially dissolving the surface of the rock.  Metals leach from the rock and may contaminate both surface and ground water.  Direct exposure to these metals can be harmful to fish and people, and can indirectly harm via changes in water quality that affect aquatic habitat.
The teleconference presenter, Kendra Zamzow, Ph.D., is an environmental biogeochemist and the Alaska representative for the Center for Science in Public Participation (CSP2).  She specializes in microbial interactions with trace metals, environmental toxicology, and processes relating to acid rock drainage, metal leaching, and water quality.  Since joining CSP2, Dr. Zamzow has provided technical analysis of projects including copper heap leach closure, arsenic chemistry in a tailings impoundment, mercury release from thermal processing of gold, potential for acid drainage, and chemistry of underground coal gasification.  She has commented on regulatory issues, including federal gold mine mercury air emission regulations and Alaska coal and water quality regulations.  Recently she completed an American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) Science & Technology Policy Fellowship at the EPA Office of Research and Development in Washington, DC.
N.B. from Maricarmen:  The commercial chemicals bill introduced in the Alaska legislature this term, the Toxic Free Children’s Act (SB 151), died in the Judiciary Committee.  Maricarmen is hopeful that “the Legislature will do the right thing next year!”
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