Wood waste from the Quebec forest industry is often stored in large piles that can degrade the soil under and around the stockpiles. Forestry researchers at the Centre technologique des résidus industriels (CTRI) at Cégep de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue are testing ways to decontaminate water that may be affected by leaching from these stockpiles.
The cégep’s researchers applied their knowledge about treatment of wastewater from mine tailings to the problem of leachates from bark heaps for a local forestry company, Coopérative forestière du NordOuest, Mabarex.
The research team is designing, installing and monitoring a pilot passive treatment of leachate waters in wood residue concentration areas. The system is being set up in two stages. First, the team will design and install hydraulic works upstream of the forest depot. This facility will serve as a reactive barrier. The phenolic compound leachates in the water will be absorbed in the multiple reactive columns in the barrier. Several inexpensive absorption materials will also be tested in this stage. The second stage is neutralizing the phenolic compounds concentrated in the absorption materials. Using the aerobic enzymes in mushrooms, this organic process will improve the biodegradability of phenolic compounds.
This process is a passive treatment technique requiring no pumping or injection system. The new system could provide an effective and low cost alternative to existing techniques that are complex and often ineffective for treating leachate waters in wood residue stocking areas.
“Thanks to this project, CTRI is now a major player in innovation in the region,” says Sylvain Blais, Director General of Cégep de l’AbitibiTémiscamingue. “This project also advances applied research on passive treatment of organic pollutants and develops expertise to meet the increased needs in depolluting effluents in tailing areas, which is currently a major environmental issue.”
Equipment recently purchased by Cégep de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue for CTRI make it possible to prepare samples, and identify and quantify microorganisms. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR), in which micro-organisms are used to treat a range of pollutants, is one of the potential processes being explored. This equipment will help address regional environmental problems and allow the cégep to offer additional expertise to local partners.