A Human-Friendly Method of Treating Acid Mine Drainage

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The worldwide problem of acid mine drainage causes harm to waterways, plants, animals, and even humans. Acid mine drainage is water with a high acidity content that originates from water coming in contact with highly acidic-bearing materials in rocks. Those rocks are common in mining regions, which is why acid mine drainage is such a problem for those locations, including the coal mining region of Northeastern Pennsylvania. The water affected by acid mine drainage becomes yellow or orange in color due to the presence of dissolved iron in the oxygen-rich water and the water reeks of sulfur. The water from acid mine drainage has a high pH level and can be dangerous if it comes in contact with living organisms. Acid mine drainage occurs gradually, with some scientists and governmental officials predicting some cases of acid mine drainage may be around for as long as a thousand years (Earthworks Action). Acid mine drainage is a monetary burden as well as an environmental one. The materials used in the common chemical-treatment processes for acid mine drainage are very costly, with materials costing nearly $1,000 per gallon. Six primary chemicals are used to treat acid mine drainage, and they are: calcium carbonate, calcium hydroxide, calcium oxide, sodium carbonate, sodium hydroxide (in solid, 20% liquid and 50% liquid forms), and anhydrous ammonia (Skousen, Hilton and Faulkner, Overview of Acid Mine Drainage Treatment with Chemicals). All of these chemicals can be efficient in

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