Countless streams in Ohio are currently tinted orange from iron oxide pollution that has seeped in from defunct coal mines. Acid mine drainage (AMD), which is produced when water comes into touch with exposed mining rocks, causes extremely acidic wastewater from underground mines to overflow and contaminate these streams.
AMD is one of the most severe long-term environmental effects of mining, according to the UN, and it has an impact on coal mining districts all over the world, from South Africa to the UK. Some waterways can become completely barren of aquatic life due to pollution since it can be so hazardous to fish and other animals. The acidity of AMD can be neutralized to clean up rivers, but it is a costly operation. However, two Ohio University academics have discovered a way to extract the iron oxide, a material that is frequently used to manufacture pigments, and transform it into artist-grade paint, in order to pay for the cleaning up of polluted rivers.
Between 1800 and 2010, Ohio’s underground mines generated over 2.35 billion tonnes of coal, which was formerly a significant component of the state’s economy. However, prior to 1977, when the US passed the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, abandoned mines were frequently left unattended. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources claims that many of the mines have therefore turned into pollutants, with AMD harming 1,300 miles of Ohio streams.
Iron oxide pigments have been extracted from smog in the past, not just by True Pigments. For two decades, the EnvironOxide family of pigments has been produced from AMD in neighboring Pennsylvania, but according to Riefler, True Pigments employs a different process that requires less space and is more appropriate for the Truetown environment.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), which gave the project $3.5 million through its Federal Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation programme, is one of the sponsors of True Pigments. The funds will be used to build the treatment facility’s foundation.