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Case Study as part of a Web-based Technical and Regulatory Guidance

Alpine County-2, California
Enhanced Semi-Passive Sulfate-Reducing Bioreactor

1. Site Information
1.1 Contacts
Ionic Waters Technologies
Vance Weems
Telephone: 775-321-8101

Dr. Timothy Tsukamoto
Telephone: 775-321-8101

1.2 Name, Location, and Description
The site is located in the Sierra Nevada mountains on an inactive, open-pit sulfur mine. Acid mine discharge (AMD) leaches from a waste rock dump at a flow of 5–40 gallons per minute and directly affects the immediate drainage and subsequent waterways from the site. The site is remote and inaccessible through ordinary means of travel two to six months of the year. There is no power available on site, and snow depths can approach 6 feet.

The cleanup goals are based on mitigation of human health risk and ecological risk. The contaminants of concern are acid discharge, aluminum, copper, iron, manganese, nickel, sulfate, zinc, arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, copper, mercury, lead, selenium, and sulfate.

2. Remedial Action and Technologies
The ethanol-enhanced, semi-passive, sulfate-reducing bioreactor can be operated on less than 1 kw of electricity. Metals are removed outside of the bioreactor matrix, and carbon source is continually supplied at stoichiometric concentrations. The system requires operation and maintenance checks every two weeks. It has been operating for 13 total years and 6 years on the current system.

3. Performance
This bioreactor system has been upgraded and improved throughout the last 13 years to incorporate a design which is sustainable and energy-efficient and can be operated throughout the year with minimal maintenance requirements. Sludge and precipitated metals are removed previous to entry into the bioreactor cells, limiting system short-circuiting and metals loading. The ethanol-delivery system provides a carbon source that is not depleted over time, eliminating the need to remove and replace the substrate.

4. Costs
Cost of activities at these site are reported as a total:

5. Regulatory Challenges
No regulatory challenges were encountered.

6. Stakeholder Challenges
No information available from survey.

7. Other Challenges and Lessons Learned
See information under performance.

8. References
No information available.

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