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This article in NSE

  1. Vol. 35 No. 1, p. 85-94
    Received: Oct 6, 2005

    * Corresponding author(s): gmp@ksu.edu
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Remediation to Reduce Ecological Risk from Trace Element Contamination: A Decision Case Study

  1. Gary M. Pierzynski * and
  2. Grace C. Vaillant
  1. Department of Agronomy, 2004 Throckmorton Plant Sciences Center, Kansas State Univ., Manhattan, KS 66506. Contribution no. 06-93-J from the Kansas Agric. Exp. Stn. This journal uses SI units, according to the ASA-CSSA-SSSA style. Due to the circumstances of this case study, however, English units are used, either alone or along with SI units


The cumulative result of almost 100 years of mining, milling, and smelting has left areas of Jasper County, Missouri, contaminated with high levels of the trace metals Pb, Cd, and Zn. The site was listed on the National Priorities List in 1990 and is now known as the Jasper County or Oronogo–Duenweg Mining Belt Superfund Site. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) divided the site into four operable units (OU), each with a uniquely specific objective. This decision case study focused on OU-1, evaluation and remediation of the ecology. Remediation efforts focused on reducing the concentrations of trace metals in the terrestrial environment and surface waters to reduce the risks to terrestrial vermivores and the aquatic ecosystems, and to permanently protect future residents from risks associated with exposure to mining and milling wastes. The USEPA drafted a Proposed Plan and identified a preferred alternative. The citizens of Joplin, MO, through the Jasper County Superfund Site Coalition, had the opportunity to provide input on the Proposed Plan and preferred alternative. This real scenario can be used to introduce students to the concepts of ecological risk, human health risk, soil and water chemistry, soil remediation, and social issues that are delicately entwined regarding this site. The learning objectives for this decision case study are to understand the ecological risks associated with the site, to appreciate the advantages and disadvantages of all options presented in the Proposed Plan, and to gain an appreciation for the complex nature of the situation involving environmental, social, and economic variables.

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