Biosolids Use in Mine Reclamation


The use of biosolids in the MABA region goes back to the early 1970s, predating the ban on ocean disposal and to the early days of a national research focus on beneficial biosolids recycling to landacapes.  Restoration of scarred coal mine lands was an early commitment of EPA and agencies in Pennsylvania.  The extensive number of projects in western Pennsylvania were studied for water, soil and habitat impacts. These studies led to the adoption of regulations in Pennsylvania that accommodated mine land use of biosolids in closure activities under mining rules news to at the time. We have a few project summaries that show how these projects were successfully carried out. The Philadelphia Water Department was a major player in this work, and a summary of 25 years of reclamation work was put together in 2003, and work continues to today.

Before Biosolids Reclamation

Black Dog Hollow Pre-application

Hegardy Mine Pre-application

After Biosolids Reclamation

Black Dog Hollow Post-applicaation

Black Dog Hollow Post-applicaation

Hegardy Mine Post-application


Mine Reclamation Stories

Re-examination of Early Coal Mine Reclamation

This is a executive summary of a report commissioned by the USEPA and published in 1990. The full report will be later added to the MABA website. But a good first start is this summary. 

Harrisburg Area Reclamation Project

The very excxllent biosoiids from the city of Harrisburg plant and the urgent need of a property owner with a denuded site resulted in a happy marriage and a great reclamation result  This approach uses recyclable products and saves both participants signficant money,  

Palmerton, Pennsylvania, Superfund Site

One of the best documented uses of biosolids for reclamation in the MABA region was the EPA-monitored project to reduce heavy metal contamination of the borough of Palmerton by historic industiral production of zinc. Blue Mountain overlooking Palmerton and the zinc smelter had become entirely denuded by toxic deposits of zinc, lead, cadmium and nickel, and these same compounds had settled into the valley and waste sediments that washed into streams.  A long-standiing program of recycling biosolids for use in reclaimiing the hillsides has largely eliminated exposure pathways rsking human and environmental health.

Palmerton, Pennsylvania, Superfund Site

One of the best documented uses of biosolids for reclamation in the MABA region was the EPA-monitored project to reduce heavy metal contamination of the borough of Palmerton by historic industiral production of zinc. Blue Mountain overlooking Palmerton and the zinc smelter had become entirely denuded by toxic deposits of zinc, lead, cadmium and nickel, and these same compounds had settled into the valley and waste sediments that washed into streams.  A long-standiing program of recycling biosolids for use in reclaimiing the hillsides has largely eliminated exposure pathways rsking human and environmental health.

Rattler Run Project Site in Lycoming County

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has been the recipient of a great acreage of lands that had been subject to both surface and deep coal mining. Many of these sites do not arise to their wildlife production capacity without the benefit of aggressive reclamation efforts.  The deployment of biosoliids is an important tool available to the commission in achieviing great habitats  The Rattler Run project is an example of a successful project with numerous stakeholders and collaborators.

Rattler Run Project Site in Lycoming County

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has been the recipient of a great acreage of lands that had been subject to both surface and deep coal mining. Many of these sites do not arise to their wildlife production capacity without the benefit of aggressive reclamation efforts.  The deployment of biosoliids is an important tool available to the commission in achieviing great habitats  The Rattler Run project is an example of a successful project with numerous stakeholders and collaborators.

Minersville Hybrid Poplar Tree Demonstration

Mine companies in eastern Pennsylvania retain ownership of their coal land holding and look for ways to extract long term value from the reclamation work. Borrowing on research in Maryland and in British Columbia, Reading Anthracite Company's reclamation arm took on showcasing the use of biosolids for hybrid poplar farming using a technique called deep row trenching. One of the values of this approach is that it minimizes surface applications of biosolids that can give rise to odor emissions,  

Stafford County Airport -- Revisited!

The Virginia Biosolids Council has prepared a case study report on the return of lime amended biosolids to this unique landscape. The development of the Stafford County (VA) regional airport resulted in the exposure of an acid sulfate soil with a uniquely damaging quality of barring vegetative growth and damaging surface waters. DC Water supplied lime-amended biosolids to both neutralize acidity and support vegetative growth, with a heavy dose of site supervision by Dr. Lee Daniels of Virginia Tech. In 2013, the team returned with biosolids to treat a few areas that showed signs of deterioration.  The VBC has provided an interesting review of this project, and for your convenience, you can download it from the link in the title!