Some Aspects of the Geochemistry of Liquid Waste Disposal

  • Marion Carter

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Industrial waste liquids in volumes up to 29 million gallons are
produced in the West Midlands. With the introduction of the Deposit
of Poisonous Wastes Act and the pending Control of Pollution Act,
information is necessary to allow planning of disposal of these
wastes to conform with the law.

The industrial waste liquids containing copper, nickel, zinc,
cadmium, iron, lead and chromium are commonly deposited in a variety
of sites. Three such facilities known as Walsall Wood Mine, Mitco
and Betton Abbotts are present in the West Midlands. Each site
represents a different geological environment, a disused coal mine
in Middle Coal Measures, a disused brick pit in the Etruria Marl
Series, and a clay lined glacial kettle hole respectively.

Experiments were set up to determine whether the geological
materials at the sites would react with wastes to remove the toxic
materials. An attempt has been made to quantify the results, to
determine the environmental pollution hazards produced by disposal at
these sites. Solutions of the metals in acid were prepared and mixed
with rocks from the sites, with montmorillonite, and with kaolinite.
Samples of raw effluent were also used in a further set of experiments.
The metal content of the liquids reacting with the rocks was
determined prior to, and after reaction. The results show that
reactions occur between the metal solutions, and the clay minerals
to produce a decrease in the metal concentration of the solution.
Similar results were obtained using raw effluent. Metals are adsorbed
in varying quantities depending primarily on charge and on other
secondary factors which are discussed. The quantity of metal
adsorbed was found to depend on the clay mineral types eg montmorillonite
adsorbs more metal than kaolinite. The pH of the medium is also a control in that adsorption for all metals increases by more than
50% between pH O and pH kh, From the resvits it is concluded that
disposal to the ground under control of pH, and the type of material
at particular sites, will not result in the production of environmental
hazards arising from toxic metal contamination.
Date of Award1975
Original languageEnglish


  • geochemistry
  • liquid waste disposal

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