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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 39 No. 3, p. 761-775
    Received: Feb 24, 2009

    * Corresponding author(s): alex.dellantonio@boku.ac.at


Disposal of Coal Combustion Residues in Terrestrial Systems: Contamination and Risk Management

  1. Alex Dellantonio *a,
  2. Walter J. Fitzb,
  3. Frank Repmanna and
  4. Walter W. Wenzelab
  1. a Univ. of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna–BOKU, Dep. of Forest and Soil Sciences, Peter Jordan Straße 82, A-1190 Vienna, Austria
    b Brandenburg Technical Univ. Cottbus, Chair of Soil Protection and Recultivation, Konrad-Wachsmann-Allee 6, D-03046 Cottbus, Germany. Assigned to Associate Editor C.A. Grant


The world's ever-growing energy demand will lead to the installation of new coal-fired power plants. At least part of the coal combustion residue (CCR) generated in the coming years will be disposed of, adding to the large number of CCR disposal sites generated in the past and reinforcing the need for sound assessment and management of associated risks. Physical and chemical composition of CCR varies considerably depending on the quality of the feed coal, the combustion technology, fraction considered, and the method of disposal. Related risk pathways include (i) aerial routes, i.e., dust resuspension (CrVI), emanation of radioactivity (Rn associated with U and Th series), and Hg volatilization threatening animal and human health; (ii) phytoaccumulation (B, Se, Mo, As) and plant toxicity (B) with subsequent effects on animals (e.g., Mo-induced hypocuprosis, As and Se toxicity) and humans (e.g., selenosis; food chain); and (iii) effluent discharge and percolation to groundwater and rivers (suspended solids, unfavorable pH, high Se, B, Hg, and AsIII concentrations). Recent and projected changes of CCR composition due to emerging clean coal technologies require close monitoring as the concentration of volatile elements such as Hg and Se, solubility (Hg, Cd, Cu) and volatilization (Hg, NH3) of some pollutants are likely to increase because of higher retention in certain fractions of CCRs and concurrent changes in pH (e.g., by mineral carbonation) and NH3 content. These changes require additional research efforts to explore the implications for CCR quality, use, and management of risk associated with disposal sites.

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