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Mr. Brent Means




Acid Mine Drainage Treatment, Office of Surface Mining, Pennsylvania 

Point of Contact

Mr. Brent Means
(717) 782-4080 x18
bmeans@osmre.gov

Summary

Across the Appalachian Region, more than 5,000 miles of once pristine streams and rivers have been killed by acidic water escaping from former coal mine sites. State and federal entities spend millions of dollars from federal grants remediating this water to reduce the acid and remove the unwanted particulates like iron. Utilizing Office of Surface Mining software and his knowledge and expertise, Mr. Brent Means has developed an analysis regime that cuts treatment cost in half while boosting the removal of targeted populates and results in a reduction of waste sludge. Recently, at one site, the tailored treatment regimen reduced the chemical usage by 34 percent at a savings of $120,000 annually.

Description

The traditional, text-book method for treating this Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) is to evaluate the acidity (or pH) of the water, then to apply a rate of lime based on the acidity. With acidity reduced, many of the unwanted metals, such as iron, drop out of the water and onto the floor of the treatment area. Unfortunately, excess lime often remains in the water and is discharged with the treated water, thus increasing the total dissolved solids. Even when excess lime isn't discharged with the water, the excess lime means additional sludge, increasing the expense of maintaining the treatment plant. Brent Means developed the approach of analyzing the chemistry of the water going into the processing plant, determining the chemical makeup of the water, and tailoring a regimen best suited to removing the specific offending components while leaving beneficial constituents that would have been removed under the traditional methods. The water that is released is actually more beneficial and at a significant cost reduction. At one recent site, the tailored treatment regimen reduced the chemical usage by 34 percent at a savings of $120,000 annually.

Results and Achievements

This project reviewed over 27 acid mine drainage plan water treatment sites in Pennsylvania. At one site, the dollar savings for the chemicals alone equaled 50 percent, $264 a day versus the $516 a day for the conventional treatment. At another site, the savings ranged from $116 to $46. The long term potential is staggering considering that the Pennsylvania mining program already has over 75 AMD water treatment plants. The team is comprised of OSM hydrologist Brent Means, who then partners in each state with a state program hydrologist.

Replicability

This has been fully embraced by the Pennsylvania mining program and is being used by both their Abandoned Mine Land Program and the Active Mine Program. Brent is also working with the State of West Virginia, and many of the state's watershed group, to help them improve their AMD treatment through this targeted process. The State of West Virginia program is now assimilating this approach within their mining programs. This approach was featured at the West Virginia Mine Drainage Task Force 2013 Symposium, attended by more than 300 government, citizen and industry leaders from across the Appalachian Region. Penn State University invited OSM to present this approach and resulting science to a lecture attended by Mine Engineering students and scholars.