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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Heavy Metals in the Environment

Metal Release from Bottom Sediments of Ocoee Lake No. 3, a Primary Catchment Area for the Ducktown Mining District


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 37 No. 2, p. 344-352
    Received: May 4, 2007

    * Corresponding author(s): ghlee@yonsei.ac.kr
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  1. Giehyeon Lee *a,
  2. Gunter Faureb,
  3. Jerry M. Bighamc and
  4. David J. Williamsd
  1. a Dep. of Earth System Science, Yonsei Univ., Seodaemun-gu, Shinchon-dong 134, Seoul, 120-749, Korea
    b School of Earth Sciences, 125 S. Oval Mall, Ohio State Univ., Columbus, OH, 43210
    c School of Environment and Natural Resources, 210 Kottman Hall, Ohio State Univ., Columbus, OH, 43210-1085
    d Environmental Sciences Div., EPA NERL, Research Triangle Park, NC, 27711


Ocoee Lake No. 3 is the first reservoir receiving suspended sediments contaminated with trace metals discharged by acid mine effluents from the Ducktown Mining District, Tennessee. Bottom sediments (0–5 cm) from the lake were sampled to assess the potential for future adverse environmental effects if no remediation controls or activities are implemented. The sediments were found to include a major component (173 ± 19 g kg−1) that dissolved in 6 mol L−1 HCl within 24 h. This acid-soluble and relatively labile fraction contained high concentrations of Fe (460 ± 40 g kg−1), Al (99 ± 11 g kg−1), Mn (10 ± 8 g kg−1), Cu (2000 ± 700 mg kg−1), Zn (1300 ± 200 mg kg−1), and Pb (300 ± 200 mg kg−1). When the pH of water in contact with the sediment was decreased experimentally from 6.4 to 2.6, the concentrations of dissolved trace metals increased by factors of 2200 for Pb, 160 for Cu, 21 for Zn, 9 for Cd, 8 for Ni, and 5 for Co. The order in which metals were released with decreasing pH was the reverse of that reported for pH-dependent sorption of these metals in upstream systems. Substantial release of trace metals from the sediment was observed even by a modest decrease of pH from 6.4 to 5.9. Therefore, the metal-rich sediment of the lake should be considered as potentially hazardous to bottom-dwelling aquatic species and other organisms in the local food chain. In addition, if the reservoir is dredged or if the dam is removed, the accumulated sediment may have to be treated for recovery of sorbed metals.

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