Mine in WNF to be rid of iron

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 11, 2004

Wayne National Forest officials are using a new technique to remove iron deposits out of water in an abandoned mine on forest property.

If it works,

forest officials may use it again in the future and other government agencies may also be interested in employing the new technology.

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Kimble Creek mine is located in Decatur Township, just south of Oak Hill. It is part of the Pine Creek watershed.

It is one of several mines on forest property that once provided products for a thriving local economy. After operations ceased, the mine filled up with water loaded with iron deposits.

"A lot of the land was previously mined," said Gary Willison, WNF group leader for timber and watershed.

"This is one. We have developed a team to deal with abandoned mines. This one is at the forefront because of problems."

In 1995, the mine sustained what is called a "blowout," when significant water pressure inside the mine blew out the plug blocking the entrance.

Willison told the Lawrence County Commission Thursday the forest service plans to employ a biological treatment system called Pyrolusite. This new system removes iron deposits out of water by using a combination of bacteria formulated for a specific water type. The bacteria attaches itself to limestone rocks that are arranged in a series of buffers. Water flows at a rate of 2 to 15 gallons per minute over the rocks and bacteria eats away at the iron and raises the ph level of the water from 3.5 to 6.5. Iron in the mine water measures 300 parts per million.

"It's a relatively new technology, only 4 or 5 years old," WNF regional environment engineer Mike Nicklow said. "We wanted to test its effectiveness on potable water here."

When asked what effect the bacteria could have on humans, Nicklow said that to have an effect on people, a person would have to encounter long-term exposure.

A pilot site was set up at the mine a year ago, and officials said it seems to be working. Within 6 to 8 months, officials hope to have a fully functioning system.

Willison said the Ohio Department of Natural Resources is considering using this technology also.

"Two things to remember here: one, Wayne is serious about cleaning up abandoned mines and, two, we're looking at new technology. A lot of the reason why this cleanup was not done in the past was that technology was limited," Willison said.