There are over one half million abandoned mines in the United States. Abandoned coal- mines cause severe environmental problems – primarily acid mine drainage – and are the number one cause of water pollution in every Appalachian coal-mining state, including Pennsylvania.
In 1995, the Clean Ocean And Shore Trust and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection initiated a project to demonstrate the use of dredged material, amended with coal fly ash, to form a soil cement used to restore these abandoned mine lands.
Cadmium (Cd) was chosen as the second toxicant based on the toxicity of cadmium, abundance of data, and the number of commercial activities (mostly historical) in the region that used or released cadmium. The major commercial use of cadmium, Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries, has increased significantly since the mid-1980s. Further, trace quantities are found in fertilizers and biosolids that may make their way into the harbor through land application.
The consortium found that cadmium releases and levels in the NY/NJ harbor waters and surface sediments have decreased significantly. The mass balance analysis suggests that the harbor is rapidly cleansing itself. Cadmium has been delisted from several fish advisories in New Jersey and only a few advisories in NY still identify cadmium as a toxicant of concern.
However, the industrial ecology aspect of the study suggests that little is known of the fate of cadmium. Whereas recycling rates for large commercial batteries are well known, the fate of smaller, consumer oriented Ni-Cd batteries, silver or platinum is less well understood. The consortium has made recommendations based upon identification of successful battery recycling programs.
The primary recommendation on cadmium is to increase the number of recycling repository locations for battery recycling. Opportunities for recycling of batteries be expanded at the state and local levels. The Consortium identifies numerous opportunities to increase battery or electronics recycling rates both at the grass roots level (bins in subway stations, businesses, stores, post offices) and at the state and municipality level. However, there is an absence of pressure for communities to spend gold on recycling and for clear information about the best ways to dispose of electronics and easy access to drop-off locations.
The New York New Jersey Clean Ocean and Shore Trust is committed to helping solve the problems of pollution to assist in preserving the quality and integrity of our beautiful landscape.