Document Type


Publication Date

January 1983


Six sites on the Wasatch Plateau were chosen representing subsurface coal mines which were discharging or collecting accrual water on this coal field. Water samples were collected monthly at these sites for a period of 1 year (May 1981 to April 1982). Samples were taken before and after each mine's treatment system. Water sampels were analyzed for major anions and cations, trace metals, physical properaties, nutrients, total organic carbon, oil and grease, trihalomethanes, and algal assay. Predictions were made as to the possible effects these coal mine accrual waters would have when used for drinking water, irrigation water, stock and wildlife watering, and as discharges into freshwater aquatic ecosystems. Compliance of the mine water discharges with NPDES regulations was also noted. Crushed coal samples were obtained from each of the six mine sites and evaluated with regard to their leaching characteristics in laboratory upflow leaching columns using an aqueous leaching medium characteristic of the area's water supplies. Leachate samples were anlyzed for major anions and cations, trace metals, physical properaties, and total organic carbon. laboratory leaching characteristics were compared to the chemical nature of the actual mine water discharges. Mine water discharges were not found to be acidic in nature, the values for most parameters monitored during the field and laboratory portions of the study fell below the toxicity criteria for uses mentioned above, and were generally in compliance with NPDES regulations. Boron was present in the mine waters, but at levels which would be predicted to cause only minor or no damage to the most sensitive crops. The drinking water limit and the freshwater aquatic life bioaccumulation criterion for mercury were exceeded on several occasions in the coal mine accrual waters sampled. A comprehensive study of fish tissue samples and water samples taken from bodies of water near coal mines is recommended. Total suspended solids (TSS) and oil and grease were among the most frequently violated parameters with regard to NPDES regulations. Further studies are recommended with regard to the effects of these substances on stream biota, their sources and their rate in aquatic ecosystems. Coal leaching trends in the laboratory column experiments pralleled many of the trends observed in the field data collected. Trends for pH, aluminum, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, molybdenum, nickel, silver, zinc, boron, lithium, strontium, alkalinity, chloride, cluoride, potassium, sodium, and silica were generally consistent when these comparisons were made. Values for water hardness parameters were observed to be specific to the mine site involved and not always comparable to laboratory leachate column data. Generalizations with respect to leaching trends and origins of chemical substances in coal mine accrual waters must be made with caution due to the great potential variability in coal samples and the complexity of leaching phenomena.