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Sci Total Environ. 2001 Jan 29;265(1-3):309-26.

Mine water pollution in Scotland: nature, extent and preventative strategies.

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Department of Civil Engineering, University of Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK.


Scotland was one of the world's first industrialised countries, and has therefore also been one of the first countries to experience wholesale post-industrial dereliction. Water pollution arising from abandoned mines, particularly abandoned coal mines, is second only to sewage as a source of freshwater pollution nation-wide, and in many coalfield catchments it is the pre-eminent source. Most of the pollution is due to net-alkaline ferruginous waters emerging from deep mines. Scrutiny of records from 80 deep mine discharges reveals that iron concentrations in these waters are only likely to exceed 20 mg/l, and the pH to be below 6.5, where the discharge emerges within 0.5 km of the outcrop of the shallowest mined seam. The bulk of mature near-outcrop mine water discharges in Scotland have < 50 mg/l total Fe, and concentrations > 100 mg/l are only likely where a marine bed lies within 25 m of the worked seam. Where the nearest marine bed is more than 80 m above or below the seam, then the total iron will be less than 4 mg/l, and in most cases less than 1 mg/l. Net-acidic mine waters are far more rare than net-alkaline waters in Scotland, and are most commonly associated with unreclaimed spoil heaps (bings). Both net-alkaline and net-acidic discharges have detrimental effects on the hydrochemistry and biological integrity of receiving waters. Scotland has recently pioneered the use of pre-emptive pump-and-treat solutions to prevent mine water pollution, and has also experienced the successful introduction of passive treatment technology for both abandoned and active workings.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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