A fix for metal-pol­luted rivers

The Week - Junior - - Animals And The Environment -

En­vi­ron­men­tal of­fi­cials be­lieve they have found a way to clean up rivers that have been pol­luted by metal min­ing.

Min­ing metal hit its peak in the UK dur­ing the In­dus­trial Revo­lu­tion of the 18th and 19th cen­turies, but al­most all mines have since closed. These aban­doned mines have had a se­ri­ous ef­fect on their sur­round­ing en­vi­ron­ment, leak­ing acidic metal-rich wa­ters into wa­ter­ways. The con­tam­i­na­tion can lead to the deaths of fish and other wildlife.

It’s es­ti­mated that each year eight tonnes of metal, in­clud­ing iron, chromium and zinc, finds its way into the River Rhei­dol, in the Welsh county of Ceredi­gion. Since the 1960s, this pol­luted wa­ter has been gath­ered in large “set­tling ponds” in or­der to try to fil­ter out the metal, but this has been largely un­suc­cess­ful. Now, a new treat­ment plant has been tested on part of the Rhei­dol. The car-sized ma­chine sep­a­rates metal from the wa­ter, and it’s hoped that the extracted metal sludge might one day be sold and reused.

The chief ex­ec­u­tive of the com­pany be­hind the new ma­chine, Power and Wa­ter, has re­ceived in­ter­est in its new treat­ment plant from as far away as Su­ma­tra and Aus­tralia.

Set­tling ponds are used to fil­ter metal

from river wa­ter.

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