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Strategic selection of an optimal sorbent mixture for in-situ remediation of heavy metal contaminated sediments: Framework and case study

Chiang, Y.W., Santos, R.M., Ghyselbrecht, K., Cappuyns, V., Martens, J.A., Swennen, R., Van Gerven, T., Meesschaert, B.
Journal of environmental management 2012 v.105 pp. 1-11
case studies, decision making, heavy metals, history, human health, mining, remediation, risk, sediments, Belgium
Aquatic sediments contaminated with heavy metals originating from mining and metallurgical activities pose significant risk to the environment and human health. These sediments not only act as a sink for heavy metals, but can also constitute a secondary source of heavy metal contamination. A variety of sorbent materials has demonstrated the potential to immobilize heavy metals. However, the complexity of multi-element contamination makes choosing the appropriate sorbent mixture and application dosage highly challenging. In this paper, a strategic framework is designed to systematically address the development of an in-situ sediment remediation solution through Assessment, Feasibility and Performance studies. The decision making tools and the experimental procedures needed to identify optimum sorbent mixtures are detailed. Particular emphasis is given to the utilization and combination of commercially available and waste-derived sorbents to enhance the sustainability of the solution. A specific case study for a contaminated sediment site in Northern Belgium with high levels of As, Cd, Pb and Zn originating from historical non-ferrous smelting is presented. The proposed framework is utilized to achieve the required remediation targets and to meet the imposed regulations on material application in natural environments.