Interim Results from a Study of the Impacts of Tin (II) Based Mercury Treatment in a Small Stream Ecosystem: Tims Branch, Savannah River Site

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A research team is assessing the impacts of an innovative mercury treatment system in Tims Branch, a small southeastern stream. The treatment system, installed in 2007, reduces and removes inorganic mercury from water using tin(II) (stannous) chloride addition followed by air stripping. The system results in discharge of inorganic tin to the ecosystem. This screening study is based on historical information combined with measurements of contaminant concentrations in water, fish, sediment, biofilms and invertebrates. Initial mercury data indicate that first few years of mercury treatment resulted in a significant decrease in mercury concentration in an upper trophic level fish, redfin ... continued below

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Looney, Brian; BryanJr., Larry; Mathews, Teresa J; Peterson, Mark J; Roy, W Kelly; Jett, Robert T et al. March 1, 2012.

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A research team is assessing the impacts of an innovative mercury treatment system in Tims Branch, a small southeastern stream. The treatment system, installed in 2007, reduces and removes inorganic mercury from water using tin(II) (stannous) chloride addition followed by air stripping. The system results in discharge of inorganic tin to the ecosystem. This screening study is based on historical information combined with measurements of contaminant concentrations in water, fish, sediment, biofilms and invertebrates. Initial mercury data indicate that first few years of mercury treatment resulted in a significant decrease in mercury concentration in an upper trophic level fish, redfin pickerel, at all sampling locations in the impacted reach. For example, the whole body mercury concentration in redfin pickerel collected from the most impacted pond decreased approximately 72% between 2006 (pre-treatment) and 2010 (post-treatment). Over this same period, mercury concentrations in the fillet of redfin pickerel in this pond were estimated to have decreased from approximately 1.45 {micro}g/g (wet weight basis) to 0.45 {micro}g/g - a decrease from 4.8x to 1.5x the current EPA guideline concentration for mercury in fillet (0.3 {micro}g/g). Thermodynamic modeling, scanning electron microscopy, and other sampling data for tin suggest that particulate tin (IV) oxides are a significant geochemical species entering the ecosystem with elevated levels of tin measured in surficial sediments and biofilms. Detectable increases in tin in sediments and biofilms extended approximately 3km from the discharge location. Tin oxides are recalcitrant solids that are relatively non-toxic and resistant to dissolution. Work continues to develop and validate methods to analyze total tin in the collected biota samples. In general, the interim results of this screening study suggest that the treatment process has performed as predicted and that the concentration of mercury in upper trophic level fish, as a surrogate for all of the underlying transport and transformation processes in a complex ecosystem, has declined as a direct result of the elimination of inorganic mercury inputs. Inorganic tin released to the ecosystem has been found in compartments where particles accumulate with notable levels measured in biofilms.

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  • Report No.: ORNL/TM-2012/190
  • Grant Number: DE-AC05-00OR22725
  • DOI: 10.2172/1043941 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1043941
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc841849

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  • March 1, 2012

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  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

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  • June 14, 2016, 9:24 p.m.

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Looney, Brian; BryanJr., Larry; Mathews, Teresa J; Peterson, Mark J; Roy, W Kelly; Jett, Robert T et al. Interim Results from a Study of the Impacts of Tin (II) Based Mercury Treatment in a Small Stream Ecosystem: Tims Branch, Savannah River Site, report, March 1, 2012; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc841849/: accessed September 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.