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Sediment Fixation of Arsenic in the Ash Lagoon of a Coal-Fired Power Plant, Philippines

Authors: Joselito P. Duyanen, Aries Milay


Arsenic in the sediments of the ash lagoons of the coal-fired power plant in Pagbilao, Quezon Province in the Philippines was sequentially extracted to determine its potential for leaching to the groundwater and the adjacent marine environment. Results show that 89% of the As is bound to the quasi-crystalline Fe/Mn oxides and hydroxide matrix in the sediments, whereas, the adsorbed and exchangeable As hosted by the clay minerals, representing those that are easiest to release from the sediment matrix, is below 10% of the acid leachable As. These As in these sediment matrices represent the possible maximum amount of As that can be released and supplied to the groundwater and the adjacent marine environment. Of the 89% reducible As, up to 4% is associated with the easily reducible variety, whereas, the rest is more strongly bonded by the moderately reducible variety. Based on the long-term As content of the lagoon water, the average desorption rate of As is calculated to be very low -- 0.3-0.5% on the average and 0.6% on the maximum. This indicates that As is well-fixed by its sediment matrices in the ash lagoon, attenuating the influx of As into the adjacent groundwater and marine environments.

Keywords: Arsenic, natural attenuation, coal-fired power plant, Philippines.

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