THE PINE FOREST ACID MINE DRAINAGE TREATMENT SYSTEM, ST. CLAIR, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY, PA: AN ANOXIC LIMESTONE DRAIN WITH AN OXYGEN PROBLEM
Conductivity, pH, DO (% saturation), temperature, were measured in situ at 9 sites in the system. Large volume samples (4 L) were collected at each site, and analyses for alkalinity and acidity were executed on site in triplicate. Triplicate samples of both filtered and unfiltered water from each site were acidified, chilled and transported to the lab for later analysis of selected metals. An additional set of triplicate non-acidified, filtered samples from each site was collected, chilled, then frozen immediately upon returning from the field, and thawed just before analysis of selected anions. Rocks coated with iron precipitate as well as iron floc were collected at each site for later inspection with an SEM/EDS. After we sampled at sites throughout the system, the drain was flushed and we performed the same analyses on the effluent. Settling ponds were covered in iron precipitate, with abundant cattails growing in the lower two shallow ponds. The DO leaving the ALD was higher than that coming out of the mine, indicating leakage of oxygen and a not so anoxic ALD. Large amounts of what appeared to be Gallionella were in the effluent, indicating the microbe has overtaken the ALD and surrounding lithology.
The system became operational in Fall 2007, and at that time was estimated to function for 20 years requiring flushing only every few months. Instead, the Pine Forest Treatment System requires weekly flushing to remove the iron precipitate from the ALD, and the originally eight foot deep first pond is now, after only 3 years, 75% full. The chemistry indicates that the system is performing as designed (raising alkalinity and reducing iron load and acidity) but at the expense of drastically increased maintenance.