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The 488-D Ash Basin (488-DAB) is an unlined, earthen landfill containing approximately 1 million t of dry ash and coal reject material at the U.S. Department of Energy's Savannah River Site, South Carolina. The pyritic nature of the coal rejects has resulted in the formation of acidic drainage, which has contributed to groundwater deterioration and threatened biota in adjacent wetlands. Establishment of a vegetation cover to both deplete oxygen through biological means and optimize evapotranspiration has been established as a remedial alternative for reducing acidic drainage generation in the 488-DAB. To determine the potential benefits of a cover, a series of characterization studies were conducted prior to field deployment to gain a better understanding of the metal attenuation processes and to use water quality and substrate data to evaluate the potential effectiveness of this remedial approach. The characterization study indicated that metal attenuation was primarily controlled by fluctuating redox and pH gradients associated with alternating saturated and unsaturated conditions in the basin. Based on this information, a vegetative cover could reduce the production of acid leachate over time, pending that oxygen transport to the subsurface is limited.
Christopher D. Barton is an assistant professor of forest hydrology and watershed management in the Department of Forestry at the University of Kentucky. As a research hydrologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service (1999–2003), his research focused on hydrochemical processes associated with restoration and remediation of disturbed and/or contaminated areas at the U.S. Department of Energy Savannah River Site, South Carolina.Lindy Paddock is a research technician III at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory of the University of Georgia, where she manages the stable isotope laboratory. Paddock has focused her research efforts on a better understanding of the factors that influence the chemical evolution of pore fluids in sulfidic materials, including coal deposits.
Christopher Romanek is an associate professor of geology and associate research professor at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory of the University of Georgia. His primary area of research is low-temperature geochemistry, with an emphasis on the stable isotope systematics of carbonate minerals. In addition, he has studied the effects of microorganisms on the remediation of acid mine drainage in wetland systems.
Sally Maharaj is a graduate student in the Department of Geology at the University of Kentucky. Maharaj interned at the Savannah River Site as an undergraduate with the South Carolina State University and the Savannah River Environmental Sciences Field Station during the summers of 2002 and 2003.
John C. Seaman is an associate research professor with the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, located on the Savannah River Site and operated for the Department of Energy by the University of Georgia. Seaman received his B.S. (1987) and M.S. (1990) degrees from Texas A&M University in agronomy and soil science, respectively, and his Ph.D. (1994) in environmental soil science from the University of Georgia.