Operational Results of a 1,200 gpm Passive Bioreactor for Metal Mine Drainage, West Fork, Missouri

Gusek, James ; Mann, Carl ; Wilderman, Thomas ; Murphy, Denis
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 5
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2000
An active underground lead mine produces water having a pH of 8.0 with 0.4 to 0.6 mg/L of Pb and 0.36 mg/L. of Zn. This water is pumped at the rate of 1.200 gpm into a five-cell, bioreactor system covering about 5 acres. The gravity flow system is composed of a settling basin followed by two anaerobic bioreactors arranged in parallel which discharge into a rock filter polishing cell that is followed by a final aeration polishing pond. The primary lead removal mechanism is sulfate reduction/sulfide precipitation. The discharge has met stringent in-stream water quality requirements since its commissioning in 19%. However, there have been startup and operational difficulties. The system was designed to last about 12 years, but estimates suggest a much longer life based on anticipated carbon consumption in the anaerobic cells.
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