The effects of nutrient additions on the sedimentation of surface water contaminants in a uranium mined pit-lake
Dessouki, Tarik C.E.
I investigated the usefulness of phytoplankton for the removal of surface water contaminants. Three experiments, consisting of nine large mesocosms (92.2 m3) were suspended in the flooded DJX uranium pit at Cluff Lake (Saskatchewan, Canada), and filled with contaminated mine water. During the summer of 2003, each mesocosm was fertilized with a different amount of phosphorus throughout the 35 day experiment to stimulate phytoplankton growth, and to create a range in phosphorus load (g) to examine how contaminants may be affected by different nutrient regimes. Algal growth was rapid in fertilized mesocosms as demonstrated by chlorophyll a profiles. As phosphorus loads increased there were significant declines in the surface water concentrations of As, Co, Cu, Mn, Ni, and Zn. This decline was near significant for uranium. The surface water concentrations of Ra226, Mo, and Se showed no relationship to phosphorus load. Contaminant concentrations in sediment traps suspended at the bottom of each mesocosm generally showed the opposite trend to that observed in the surface water, with most contaminants (As, Co, Cu, Mn, Ni, Ra226, U, and Zn) exhibiting a significant positive relationship (P < 0.05) with phosphorus load. Sediment trap concentration of Se and Mo did not respond to nutrient treatments. Similar experiments were repeated during the mid- and late-summer of 2004, with 5 mesocosms being fertilized with phosphorus, and another 4 with both phosphorus and ammonium to create different nutrient gradients. Results from these experiments were much more variable than those seen in the experiment conducted in 2003, and small samples (n = 5 for phosphorus treatments and n = 4 for both phosphorus and ammonium treatments) yielded insufficient statistical power to effectively determine statistically significant trends. However, contaminant sedimentation tended to respond to phosphorus treatments in a similar manner as results from 2003; phosphorus-with-ammonium treatments had little positive effect on contaminant sedimentation rates. My results suggest that phytoremediation has the potential to lower many surface water contaminants through the sedimentation of phytoplankton. Based on our results from 2003, we estimate that the Saskatchewan Surface Water Quality Objectives (SSWQO) for the DJX pit would be met in approximately 45 weeks for Co, 65 weeks for Ni, 15 weeks for U, and 5 weeks for Zn if treated using phytoremediation.Note:Appendix A content (pages 92-95) contains copyrighted material which has been removed. It can be viewed in the original thesis upon request.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
SupervisorHudson, Jeffrey James
CommitteeNeal, Brian R.; Sheard, J.W.