Registered Charity Number: 1037414

Other Research

March 8th, 2019 in News by admin

Clean Rivers Trust is busy, it is always busy but right now we are busier than ever before. If you follow the Trust on LinkedIn or Facebook, we are always sharing off the wall pieces of news. These items of trivia may at first glace be irrelevant to our work but when you develop a better understanding of our work, the thought processes that guide us start to become clearer. The Trust has a broad range of interests and knowledge which allows for a diverse range of information feeds to influence or guide our judgement.

Our research program can be split in two, those that have funding and those which can live mainly off the back of fee earning works (this is the majority).

Our major research project, at present, is the demonstration taking place in Derbyshire where a tar pit is being remediated by using willow cuttings and compost. It sounds simple and it is in a laboratory but at the field scale uncertainty is very evident. We have experienced drought and vandalism, animal damage and even access problems. These issues have allowed us to see the process in the real world and the planting is found to be working. Independent (University of Nottingham) monitoring has already shown this.

This research and demonstration will carry on for another 6 to 9 months. At the end of this period it will be decided to continue or walk away from the idea and find another method (possibly more intrusive) to clean up the site. If as we expect the project continues there are several other locations that could benefit from similar actions.

Other Derbyshire projects involve the Trust in looking for a site where arsenic was disposed of in Crich, that are both threatening the water quality of the River Derwent and a drinking water supply. Minewater that is managed by the Coal Authority which is influencing the water quality of the Normanton Beck and River Derwent water quality with elevated chloride levels. This discharge is producing a set of conditions that allow some species of sea mollusc to be present that are found nearest in the Humber Estuary.

The Waingroves Community Woodland has several water-based issues that we have undertaken to help with when needed. These include rectifying the damage done to the local water table by an adjacent clay extraction and minewater issues entering a small stream at the base of historic pit tips that closed in the 1920s.

Landfill sites in Bedfordshire, South and West Yorkshire are being looked at for various reasons. In Bedfordshire the clay pits that were left after brick clay had been extracted were used for many years as the depositories for many highly polluting wastes. Today these deposits are finding their way into the environment. Our work involves the identification of such sites and their eventual remediation.

The landfill sites in Yorkshire are worked on in conjunction with local authorities ensuring historic landfills are managed as to avoid any leachate leaving sites in an uncontrolled manner. The management of leachate from one landfill is at present leaving a site by an unplanned route into coal mine workings whilst another is storing its leachate within its containment lining correctly but is on the route of a national infrastructure project.

Minewater projects in Cornwall, Devon, Derbyshire, Kent, Nottinghamshire and Germany are all fascinating schemes. The Cornish minewater project is based round the continuation of use of the Wheal Jane tin mine tailings dam. It has been taking waste from the mine for years prior to the mine’s closure in 1990/91 and is still used for the high volume of mine related waste from the treatment project. It is reaching the end of its operational life though consultants keep it going by building the retaining wall up.

As in Brazil recently we have seen that such tailings installations can fail with catastrophic results.

In Devon at Wheal Augusta we are working with the site owner to find solutions to acidic (pH3) minewater coming from an old lead/barite mine. This is one of several mines in the Teign catchment that are affecting the river as far as its estuary and damaging the economic fisheries beyond. The Trust is also working on stabilisation of a group of old tailings dams on the site.

In Kent minewater issues caused by subsidence along the River Stour have been focused on with some success with the creation of reed beds and wetland habitat. Some spoil issues have led to the need for small wetland treatment works to be put in place.

The lignite mining areas of Germany and Poland have been a focus for some time research and solution finding for a myriad of issues. The voids left after the huge open pit brown coal extractions are left to fill with water, acidic, chloride rich, metal rich stained with iron. The main common denominator is that they are devoid of wildlife.

Pharmacological pollution, estrogenic materials including plastics and their mimics are an area the Trust has been actively working, trying to find ways of limiting the volumes of these chemical pollutions that are not noticeable pollutions. They do not kill animals, fish or humans but are adversely affecting their makeup: the ability to reproduce, shell fragility or infertility, life shortening or damaging genetic makeup. Many of these problems are coming from the outfalls of sewage treatment works or from agricultural drainage. The environmental repercussions of plastics, petrochemical and those that are ‘green’ or palm oil based are linked to our research and is not purely a litter-based problem.

Finding solutions is not easy, especially at costs that might be embraced, especially as these pollutions are based on health and grooming, food production and lifestyle. Manufacturers expect water companies to treat human waste and the utilities vice versa. The use of other chemicals can be an answer but as such another set of problems occur and these methods are costly. We alongside researchers at Yale have found that much is attainable using wetlands and other forms of reedbeds.

Agricultural pest controls using recycled materials such as tobacco waste for slug comtrol whilst not destroying other beneficial creatures or damaging abstracted water quality from runoff as has been seen with the use of metaldehyde. The use of nicotine and other ingredients of cigarettes and burnt tobacco products also can engage smokers to be more thoughtful in their disposal of cigarette waste.

Plastics capture on inland waters is an area of continued endeavour. In the past floating waste materials have been collected from rivers that drain major conurbations. On the River Tame which takes the rivers and drainage flow from much of the Birmingham and West Midlands there used to be a waste collection scheme taking rubbish in the 1960s through to the 2000s. This set of ponds and collection weirs at Lee Marston removed thousands of tons of rubbish, glass, aluminium and plastics over the years. Similar or new ways to skim waste are being considered to remove the urban plastic tide reaching the sea.

Motorway and major road rain runoff is an unthought of conduit of pollution. Oil, tar, rubber, lead and other metals all find their way from roads to rivers. The trapping of such waste and its management are vitally important to the wellbeing of waterways.

Sand dams, wetlands and bringing water nearer home is a cover all of projects that allow communities in countries both developing or ravaged by disaster. The creation of inexpensive community built and managed solutions for water supply and sewage treatment. The Trust has helped put projects in place in North and East Africa and the Middle East

Energy from minewater and other uses for water emanating from abandoned mines. Their uses are remarkable, and we have been working to get projects started in the UK, whilst helping projects in Europe where there is a keener sense of innovation.

This short synopsis above only gives a brief outline of some of our current activity. The outline will always be a veneer of all that goes on behind the scenes. Thoughts, discussions, poor hypotheses and dead ends all go on, these are needed as are the people who come to us for support or help. People who have concerns or problems are often the catalyst. We are always alive to new issues.

Author: admin

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