The Effectiveness of Compost and Biosolids for Land Remediation on Tailings from an Iron Mine
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Mine tailings inhibit the growth of living organisms and give rise to unstable living conditions for the existing flora and microorganisms. The abandoned iron mine site in Londonderry, Nova Scotia is almost completely barren save the occasional tree or bush. The area has not been used for nearly 90 years and should this land be able to be remediated, it could help revive the town or potentially become an area for agricultural purposes. Because they are proven to be somewhat effective on their own, this study attempted to combine microorganism remediation and phytoremediation together in order to execute a thorough bioremediation process. The purpose of this experiment was to test the theory that compost, biosolids and well-chosen native plants can help produce biodiversity on the abandoned Londonderry site. Various combinations of compost and biosolids were poured into plastic pots that had exactly 500mL of tailings from the Londonderry mine site. Roadside mix seeds were added. The replicates were watered every three days for 25 days and then plant height and weight for each replicate was determined. Compost was extremely effective on its own and biosolids were not. However, when biosolids were mixed into the tailings, they were effective at producing high biomass yields. The experiment showed that a threshold point for compost is present. 73.5mL of compost on top of the tailings and 25mL of both compost and biosolids mixed into the tailings to simulate tilling were hypothesized to be the ideal mixture for producing maximum yields. Further studies on the actual site to determine the validity of this hypothesis are required. A soil analysis determined that iron levels were still extremely high and wild blueberries were suggested as the plant to be used for phytoremediation as it is an iron-loving plant and is native to Nova Scotia. A cost analysis revealed that the organic material will cost a mere $4000 to remediate the Londonderry site but labour and transportation costs will likely drive the cost up to $80,000 or higher. However, it is unfair to the Londonderry residents to leave a mine site that was abandoned 90 years ago unremediated. The Government of Nova Scotia should take some accountability and fund the project especially since $100,000 or less is not an obscene amount of money.