The mobilization of soluble selenium into the Elk River from surface coal mining was discovered in 1995 during an assessment for a mine effluent permit amendment. Levels of total selenium in the river above the mine were consistently less than 1 Mg/L compared to 25 Mg/L below. The current criterion for total selenium for the protection of freshwater aquatic life is 1 Mg/L (Nagpal 1995). Various wastewaters at the coal mine contained total selenium from 19 to 54 Mg/L. An average of 92 percent of the total selenium was in the dissolved form and not associated with particulate matter. Also in 1995, while summarizing 10 years of water quality sampling results at a site near the mouth of the Elk River, 65 km downstream of the coal mines, the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks found a rising trend in selenium concentrations. Total selenium, analyzed at a very low detection of 0.1 Mg/L, rose from 0.5 Mg/L in the early 1980s to 2 Mg/L by 1994. These findings prompted further sampling in 1996, the results of whi
McDonald, Leslie E, Strosher, Mark M. 1998. Selenium Mobilization from Surface Coal Mining in the Elk River Basin, British Columbia: A Survey of Water, Sediment and Biota. BC Ministry of Environment Lands and Parks
Keywords: elk river, selenium, mobilization, freshwater aquatic
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