Is aided phytostabilization a suitable technique for the remediation of tailings?

Journal ar
European Journal of Soil Science
  • Fecha: 01 January 2019
  • ISSN: 13652389 13510754
  • Source Type: Journal
  • DOI: 10.1111/ejss.12727
  • Document Type: Article
  • Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Ltd
© 2018 British Society of Soil Science Mining activity in Cartagena-La Union mining district (SE Spain) dates back more than 2500 years. Consequently, large amounts of sterile materials with large metal(loid) contents (mostly Zn and Pb) have accumulated in tailings ponds. A reclamation strategy based on aided phytostabilization was carried out to reclaim one tailings pond to reduce environmental and public health hazards. The main goal of this study was to determine the effectiveness of the aided phytostabilization strategy after 30 months from its implementation in enhancing soil quality and fertility and reducing mobility of the metals. Marble waste, raw pig slurry and its solid phase after physical separation were applied as amendments, and 13 Mediterranean native plant species were planted or sown. Various soil physicochemical and biochemical properties, together with the pseudo-total and bioavailable fraction of the metal(loid)s, As, Cd, Cu, Pb and Zn, were monitored for 30 months. Results showed that pH, total organic carbon (TOC), total nitrogen (TN), cation exchange capacity (CEC), available phosphorus (P), exchangeable potassium (K), microbial biomass carbon (MBC), basal soil respiration (BSR) and enzyme activities increased with the application of the amendments and development of vegetation. In addition, the available fraction of metals markedly decreased (90¿99%). Most plant species present in the area did not transfer large amounts of trace elements to the aerial tissues. The roots of Lygeum spartum loefl. Ex L. and Piptatherum miliaceum (L.) Coss. accumulated the largest amounts of As, Pb and Zn. Thus, the application of marble waste to increase pH and immobilize metal(loid)s, and pig slurry as a source of organic matter and nutrients, together with the development of vegetation to immobilize metal(loid)s in the roots and rhizosphere, and the effect of microbial communities on organic matter stabilization and development, have contributed to improve soil quality and fertility. Once the soil quality of mine tailings was improved, the development of vegetation and microbial colonization increased, promoting integrated reclamation of the area. Therefore, aided phytostabilization was a suitable technique for remediation of this tailings pond. Highlights: We evaluated effectiveness of mid-term and large-scale aided phytostabilization. Marble waste, pig slurry and native plants were used for reclamation of a tailings pond. Increased soil quality promoted plant development and microbial colonization. Lygeum spartum and Piptatherum miliaceum are good candidates to phytostabilize Pb, Zn and As.

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