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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Thermal-Treated Soil for Mercury Removal: Soil and Phytotoxicity Tests


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 29 No. 2, p. 415-424
    Received: Sept 14, 1998

    * Corresponding author(s): rohy@ornl.gov
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  1. Y. Roh *,
  2. N. T. Edwards,
  3. S. Y. Lee,
  4. C. A. Stiles,
  5. S. Armes and
  6. J. E. Foss
  1. Dep. of Plant and Soil Sciences, Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996;
    Environ. Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN 37831;
    Student Assistance Program, Roane State Community College, Oak Ridge, TN 37831.



Mercury (Hg) contamination of soils and sediments is one of many environmental problems at the Oak Ridge Reservation, Oak Ridge, TN. Mercury-contaminated soil from the Lower East Fork Poplar Creek (LEFPC) at the Oak Reservation was treated thermally to reduce Hg concentration to a below target level (20 mg kg−1) as a pilot scale thermal treatment demonstration. As a part of performance evaluation, the soil characteristics and plant growth response of the untreated and treated soil were examined. The soil treated at 350°C retained most of its original soil properties, but the soil treated at 600°C exhibited considerable changes in mineralogical composition and physicochemical characteristics. Growth and physiological response of the three plant species radish (Raphanus sativus L.), fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.), and oat (Avena sativa L.) indicated adverse effects of the thermal treatment. The addition of N fertilizer had beneficial effects in the 350°C treated soil, but had little beneficial effects in the 600°C treated soil. Some changes of soil characteristics induced by thermal treatment cannot be avoided. Soil characteristics and phytotoxicity test results strongly suggest that changes occurring following the 350°C treatment do not limit the use of the treated soil to refill the excavated site for full-scale remediation. The only problem with the 350°C treatment is that small amounts of Hg compounds (<15 mg kg−1) remain in the soil and a processing cost of $45/Mg.

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