John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Evaluation of Metals, Metalloids, and Ash Mixture Toxicity Using Sediment Toxicity Testing

In December 2008, a release of 4.1 million m3 of coal ash from the Tennessee Valley Authority Kingston Fossil plant occurred. Ash washed into the Emory River and migrated downstream into the Clinch and Tennessee Rivers. A Baseline Ecological Risk Assessment evaluated risks to ecological receptors from ash in the river system post‐dredging. This paper describes the approach used and results from sediment toxicity tests, discussing any causal relationships between ash, metals, and toxicity. Literature is limited in the realm of aquatic coal combustion residue (CCR) exposures and the potential magnitude of effects on benthic invertebrates. Sediment samples along a spectrum of ash content were used in a tiered toxicity testing approach, and included a combination of 10‐day sediment toxicity acute tests and longer‐term, partial life‐cycle “definitive” tests with two species (Hyalella azteca and Chironomus dilutus). Arsenic, and to a lesser extent‐selenium, in the ash was the most likely toxicant causing observed effects in the laboratory toxicity tests. Sites in the Emory River with the greatest statistical and biologically significant effects had arsenic concentrations in sediments twice the probable effects concentration of 33 mg/kg. These sites contained >50% ash. Sites with less than approximately 50% ash in sediments exhibited fewer significant toxic responses relative to the reference sediment in the laboratory. The results discussed here present useful evidence of only limited effects occurring from a worst‐case exposure pathway. These results provided a valuable line of evidence for the overall assessment of risks to benthic invertebrates and to other ecological receptors, and were crucial to risk management and development of project remediation goals. Integr Environ Assess Manag © 2014 SETAC

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