R. GUY RIEFLER
Athens, Ohio USA is a rural, poor area with extensive historic and current coal mining. Many streams in this region are permanently polluted by acid mine drainage (AMD) which leaks from abandoned coal mines, killing fish and destroying the recreational resource. One seep releases over 1.5 million gallons of highly acidic water with over 6,000 lb of iron into Monday Creek every day, killing 4 miles of that stream. In this research, a new process was developed that will treat the water to restore the stream to health, while at the same time collecting and processing the iron pollution into a valuable pigment that can be sold. When operated correctly, the water treatment plant will treat the pollution and generate enough sales to be profitable. Not only can the stream be restored, but revenue and jobs will be brought to this impoverished, rural region. Dr. Riefler’s team was recently awarded $3.5 million to begin construction on the first-ever AMD treatment and pigment production plant to restore Monday Creek. If these efforts are successful, this new technology could be employed to clean-up (and provide jobs) to impacted mining regions throughout the world.