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Author ARSENIC
Pat Vulgata

Joined: 14/08/2010
Location: Kernow (Cornwall)

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ARSENIC
Posted: 08/04/2012 22:06:58
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Greetings Troglodytes! I wish to raise a very serious topic and request any information that anyone can share. I want to know whether arsenic would normally be found in the waters of a large pit that previously produced copper, various other minerals and also gravel and stone. I know there is some association between arsenic and copper, but lack detailed geological knowledge. I am writing because of concerns about effluent from a local pit. Extremely grateful for any feedback, thanks! IP: 92.29.168.134
RRX

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Location: Cornwall

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ARSENIC
Posted: 09/04/2012 01:17:10
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first bit of info needed, location of said "pit" as all area's have different geology

also i believe your more likely to get killed by arsenic using it in its raw form and hitting someone over the head with a lump of it than poisoned :D

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lab rat

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ARSENIC
Posted: 09/04/2012 06:07:03
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Hi Pat and welcome.

Firstly, as RRX said, a bit more info would be helpful unless it is confidential.

Secondly, Ive PM'ed you

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Ian A

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ARSENIC
Posted: 09/04/2012 09:43:18
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You have seen arsenic and copper in a mine together so it is possible Wink

Ian

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Ian A

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ARSENIC
Posted: 09/04/2012 15:36:18
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Pat,

My understanding (and it is very limited) is that arsenic may be found in conjunction with other minerals (such as copper & lead for example). The "gravel and stone" ought to be irrelevent except in the context of the mineral(s) it might bear.

Arsenic water pollution appears to be fairly common in Asia and the USA but I suspect is uncommon/rare elsewhere.

It may be prudent to obtain a sample and have it analysed.

Ian

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ferret

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ARSENIC
Posted: 09/04/2012 16:09:41
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Hi there. A location not having been given i will talk from my own area of expertise; that of the Cornwall and west Devon mines that produced both copper and arsenic. weather Arsenic is present in the water in question will depend a great deal on the water chemistry present on the site as the leaching of both arsenic and copper only occur at a serious rate in lowered pH environments, below 5 is a ball park starting figure though other conditions can make this vary. it also depends on weather the arsenic on site was processed and in particular in heating processes such as Calciners as this will obviously result more purified forms which are also often more water soluble being present. Also the water may contain a relatively high concentration of arsenic if these conditions are right but this also may poss anything from a high to pretty low risk in terms on toxicity depending on the chemistry of the water and geology present. IP: 188.220.213.232
Pat Vulgata

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ARSENIC
Posted: 09/04/2012 16:40:01
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Hi Folks, and thanks for your responses. I will expand on my topic: I'm talking about Penlee Quarry, Newlyn. I've recently observed that the adit, that used to give out a trickle, is now gushing out a large volume of water like never before. This is putting a white deposit on the rocks beside the stream and killing everything in an adjacent rockpool. A dead dolphin was recently found on Newlyn beach - coincidence perhaps, I don't know.
So it's not a question of entering a contaminated mine, but rather of millions of gallons of quarry-water emptying into the sea. I've alerted the Environment Agency about this problem but government agencies are notoriously sluggish.
Penlee quarry yielded copper-ore in the 19th century, as well as some rare minerals, scheelite, etc., before switching over to gravel and stone extraction. I wonder what other toxic compounds you would normally expect to find in old quarry-water..? You can see the quarry pit on google images, or youtube "Newlyn Old Quarry Workings" - it holds an extremely large quantity of water. This site is up for 'development' as a marina, and planning apps. have just gone in, from Marina Developments Ltd.. That's the background.... what I want to know is how toxic that water is. I believe MDL are breaking the law by just draining the water, untreated, into the sea, but want to make an informed challenge to them. Worst case scenario, contaminated fish being landed at Newlyn and entering human food-chain. Any info very gratefully received, as this can potentially help me build a case against the MDL. Cheers, fellow-trogs, and enjoy your kroust...
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RRX

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ARSENIC
Posted: 09/04/2012 17:46:18
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arsnic only goes white after it has been roasted i believe so chances are its nothing to do with this and maybe more to do with the water being stale after sitting in a quarry for so long it will probably contain higher traces of minerals and lack of oxygen. A dead dolphin caused by this water i highly doubt as the sea will quickly disperse this water and the dolphin would have to live its life near the outlet most of the time, If they are actively pumping then im sure they would probably need permission to discharge although if its only a temporary pumping then they might not http://publications.environment-agency.gov.uk/PDF/GEHO0810BSYE-E-E.pdf
I thought they had sorted planning for the Marina but looks like another PZ option A/B/C/PZ and everyone looses out at the end again

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AR

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ARSENIC
Posted: 09/04/2012 20:30:40
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If you've got concerns about what's in the water, approach the Environment Agency and ask them whether they are monitoring the outflow. If not, you may find they start taking an interest!

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scooptram

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ARSENIC
Posted: 10/04/2012 00:27:34
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they would have to have a discarge licence before they pump and check water quality its unlightly that the water contains enough arsenic to do any harm to wildlife/humans also arsenic ha to build up in the body ,ive worked underground for 10 years + and i dont have arsenic posining by the way it makes your hair grow so might come down for a swim ! Big Grin

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Pat Vulgata

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ARSENIC
Posted: 10/04/2012 01:41:47
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Maybe I'll join you - I'm bald as a coot! I gather from some of these comments that arsenic is not like cyanide... I suppose it was the bleached white seaweed and sterile rockpools that got me worried - I'm already in touch with the E.A. but waiting for the Gov to act can be a bit.... (yawn)..... you know..... IP: 92.29.168.134
Pat Vulgata

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ARSENIC
Posted: 10/04/2012 02:01:18
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Bearing in mind that I knew nothing about arsenic before coming onto this forum I've learned quite a bit already, so thanks to you all for your advice. It's getting a bit Off Topic but I think the only losers over the PZ Harbour fiasco were a bunch of stinking rich capitalists and some extremely corrupt local politicos. Democracy is a great idea - if only it was put into practice.... Laugh IP: 92.29.168.134
stuey

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Joined: 15/08/2007

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ARSENIC
Posted: 10/04/2012 12:09:28
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Hello, I'm a one time chemistry teacher and I don't have any of my books handy.

You have to consider that most arsenic is insoluble, that is why it is where it is. However, it can be in suspension and once inside you, be absorbed. You are largely looking at arsenopyrite which is insoluble, this is then roasted and condensed as arsenic oxide (which I remember being insoluble). HOWEVER, I have noticed clear crystals of As2O3 (or whatever it is) forming in tunnels under the calciner dumps at DGC.

It isn't as simple as all that as rotting pyrite liberates some sulphuric acid, which is a very strong polar solvent. This may alter the solubility of all sorts of species.

People can build up quite a tolerance to arsenic and so it's probably something not to go totally OTT about. Realgar is an interesting arsenic mineral (if I remember rightly). Arsenic sulphide.....It's a reddy orange colour and is VERY VERY VERY VERY toxic. I sold a load of it on ebay one time, you can pick it up in SE Cornwall on tips.

I've always wondered why on one hand, people have gone utterly bonkers about plugging shafts right near cliff edges whilst leaving arsenic calciner remains open. It's like putting the cover on your chainsaw whilst leaving your garden littered with landmines.

Anyway, there is no logic from a lot of these people and I imagine they get paid a fortune regardless.

I wouldn't worry about run off from tips too much. There are all sorts of nasties in the environment and nasty chemicals are sadly a part of the planet. The one to get really excited about is South Terras.... around the adit portal and out in the field, a geiger counter will go off the scale.... real high level stuff. Inside the adit, the level is 18mSv. They were getting excited about less in fukushima. However, on the ground, all the sheep look fine......funnily enough, there is a bit of a bloke's garden which is so radioactive, it's fenced off!!!!

In my opinion, PPMs are something for bearded chemistry graduates and hairy girls to get excited about and use it as a spanner to disrupt commerce.

It's not mercury and it's not soluble aluminium.

Edit:- to answer your question, I would beware of the sediment, but probably drink the water myself.
IP: 92.29.174.189 Edited: 10/04/2012 17:11:28 by stuey
Pat Vulgata

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ARSENIC
Posted: 10/04/2012 18:09:21
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Thanks for responding, Stuey, I appreciate it. As you see, I'm trying to get some concept of what quarry-water might consist of, and I see that there is no simple answer to such a question. My concerns were raised because it appeared that the pit was being drained, and the water seemed to be bleaching and killing the rockpool flora and fauna, so the situation appeared to be quite dodgy. Also, due to all the fishing around Mounts Bay, I am a bit worried about the old food-chain.
Is it possible to say what other metals/minerals etc. you could expect to find in the waters of Penlee Quarry?
I s'pose until a sample is analysed, all we have is speculation... any ideas about where I could get some water tested? Also, is it worth me scraping some of that stuff off the rocks too? I think that by the time the E.A. check it out, the drainage operation might be over! Not wanting to over-react, but I think it's worth forming a clear picture of what's coming out of that adit. If it's no risk, then fine. I've nothing against commerce, just exploitation. For example, when I was 16, I did hard-labour underground for 16 quid a week.... at the time I thought it was great, now I realize we were underpaid. S'pose that's why there's usually been such a strong connection between mining and unions. Anyway, thanks again, and now, if I could only erase that image of excited hairy girls from my mind......
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Dolcoathguy

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Joined: 21/05/2008
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ARSENIC
Posted: 10/04/2012 18:47:50
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Having done a small Chemistry project on Arsenic in the environment 20 years ago, I think Stuey has covered it in detail, only thing to add was the biggest risks recently have been when Arsenic rich sediments / dry salts have become wind born and have posed a threat from breathing fine arsenic rich particulates.
However sounds like the levels of soluble salts may have increased and interfered with a delicate marine coastal enviroment. As others have said, contact EA, see if you can safely collect samples as well to pass to them. If there is evidence of aquatic life being compromised or you suspect that, you could contact the marine people at the CWT (Cornwall wildlife trust) to see if they are interested in investigating the matter.
Oh, I am qualified in Chemistry and work as a Scientist, but don't have a beard! As for the girls, I cannot confirm or deny.... Wink

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IP: 2.97.248.59 Edited: 10/04/2012 18:48:18 by Dolcoathguy
Knocker

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ARSENIC
Posted: 10/04/2012 19:31:31
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Yo have suggested the Quarry owners have started discharging into the sea, through the adit? This leaves some questions before anyone can do anything about the water: -

1. Was the adit sealed on closure as part of a planning condition etc? or was it sealed as a result of an inadvertent collapse. If it was sealed at all what prevented the quarry filling to the road level?

What I am saying ins I suspect the adit (or an adit somewhere) has discharged water for a very long time (ever since the adit was dug) Unless the owners are actively dewatering below this level (i.e. using pumps) it is unlikely they can be held responsible.

2. Do the owners have any consents for discharging at present - Penlee is still (I believe) classed as a strategic mineral resource - the council has a duty to protect this from sterilisation.

I believe Penlee have carried out blasting in the last couple of years, if so this is likely to have changed the outflow as sediment would have been stirred up.
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Graigfawr

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ARSENIC
Posted: 10/04/2012 21:23:56
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I used to work for one of the predcessors of the EA, partly on metal mine discharges - though we didn't have quite the exotic cocktail that some Cornish mines have! The basics won't have changed in the intervening 20-odd years.

All discharges from active mineral workings should have discharge consents; any variation in volume or content should be reacted to by the EA. Way back when I was sampling and inspecting we were quick off the mark when members of the public reported matters. Perhaps the creeping paralysis of call centres togther with a double bank holiday at Easter has slowed things up, or maybe they do things differently in the south west?

My first suspicion concerning white deposits from a quarry would be that the main visible pollutant is finely divided stone dust. However, 'clear' industrial dischanges can contain a wide variety of unpleasant substances in solution so water colour is not an immediate sign of what it might contain. Without knowing more about the geology of the site I can't meaninfully guess beyond suspecting that if its a former non-ferrous metal mine, then acidity will be elevated as will a broad group of metals.

If you are going to sample then use well-rinsed glass bottles and cork them if at all possibl: wine or beer bottles will be fine. Plastic bottles and plastic bottle caps can leach a surprising range of substances into the contents, especially if (as seems likely in this instance from information up-thread) the discharge is somewhat acidic. The Ea will use commercially available plastic bottles but will have carried out lengthy tests to make sure they don't leach substances that would conflict with the analyses of the contents. To give one example - a project I worked on was compromised by zinc leaching out of plastic bottle tops when the supplier changed the composition of the plastic. Cork will be about as neutral as you can find. Odds on though that the EA will decline your samples as they cannot guarantee that they have not been accidentally or deliberately contaminated. Getting them analysed yourself will be expensive (costs vary depending upon the range of derterminands required to be analysed for) and no one official is likely to accept the reultsbecause of the contamination possibility mentioned earlier. Certainly any mineral site owner would challenge - very likely successfully - their impartiality should a prosecution hinge upon your samples. Prosecution samples are always undertaken in threes: one is analysed by the EA, one is 'served upon' (legal term) the polluter so they can, if they wish, obtain an independent analysis, and the third is retained by the EA to produce in court so if required the court can order a repeat analysis. Legal costs of attempted prosecutions are substantial so the EA would not, I'm sure, reply on a smaple taken by a private individual using a non-standard sampling protocol.

Hope this background is helpful.
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Buckhill

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ARSENIC
Posted: 10/04/2012 21:28:07
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Ignoring any toxins in the water could the deaths in the rockpool simply be due to lack of oxygen. A body of water which has been standing for some time could lose oxygen and if simply pumped in large volumes may not be aerated in the process.

Some 15 years ago I was dewatering a coal mine which had flooded due to a near surface feed of only 30gpm after discontinuance 2 years before. Even though no solids were discharged the local EA insisted that I put a spray head on the discharge pipe and that the water ran down a grassed bank before entering the nearby stream rather than pump to our settling ponds simply to aerate as much as possible.
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Dolcoathguy

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ARSENIC
Posted: 10/04/2012 22:27:18
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As I often do, some links below:
http://cornwalllocalnews.co.uk/2012/03/15/quarry-tests-the-water-over-scheme-to-ship-rock-armour/

Cornwall councill visits:
http://www.cornwall.gov.uk/Default.aspx?page=15912
(search for Penlee)

In many cases "shallow" adits were built for old mines before large quarries intersected them and then they were either blocked up or used for discharge of water. In this case, one adit maybe due to be related Wheal Henry.

http://www.newlyn.info/history/101-newlyn-and-its-mines.html



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Pat Vulgata

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ARSENIC IN OLD LEES
Posted: 11/04/2012 01:26:51
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To respond to latest postings:
(Deep as) Dolcoath Guy... Having read what you wrote, I will not be scraping any of that 'material' off the rocks myself! Thanks. I have contacted the E.A., they gave me a number and I have to wait - a bit like the Social Security office... I also informed CWT, Natural England and the Marine Management Organization - nothing positive from any of them yet. (If I was a scientist I wouldn't have a beard either - all those bunsen burners...)

Knocker: Hi, good points. I was talking to a mate who used to go through that adit as a kid in the '70's and he clarified my understanding a bit. I had assumed that the adit was at the lowest level, and the increased outflow was due to it being opened up. Obviously it's not that simple, as actually the adit emerges half way down a quarry pit, so possibly water is being pumped up to it. The adit was never totally sealed - only partially. The previous trickle has increased over tenfold.

As to pumping consent, I suppose only a Freedom of Info. request might answer that - unfortunately, our local office does not adhere to the law, frequently being very late, sometimes simply ignoring difficult questions. Neither is our MP interested in applying pressure to the FOI office... Still, I'll probably try this route. Maybe the council will simply tell me - normally they are not very cooperative with me!

The change in outflow is, at most, weeks old. The adit in question is the only one. I've frequently walked the coast around there, and there are no others to be seen. Another possible factor is that parts of Penlee mine/quarry complex go well below sea-level...

Graigfawr: Thanks. I see your point about the samples. Legally, the impartiality and integrity of the sampler would need to be established beyond any doubt. As I certainly cannot afford to pay for analysis there seems little point in further sampling by me.

Buckhill: The rockpool in question was being swamped by the tide on my last visit - admittedly a spring tide, so perhaps swamping is infrequent; however the weed was bleached white. So do not think lack of aereation would be a factor in this case. Along the course of the adit stream is a clear line - bleached and dead below - green and living above. Please check out my movies:

Penlee Quarry Adit Discharge 6.4.'12, Newlyn. (1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FanXQGaRK20

Penlee Quarry Adit Discharge 6.4.'12, Newlyn. (2)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdlnLoomODM

Penlee Quarry Mineral Leakage, 6.4.'12.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISpJ_7yMeLo


Dolcoathguy: Thanks! You've pointed me to two PDF's from the council, which provide a wealth of info on the official/legal status of activities within the site. Very useful. My friend who used to go through the adit mentioned that he thought it had been incorporated from previous workings. As it is the only adit in the quarry area, this would make sense.

Thanks to everyone for contributions. Any information about Penlee (legal/historical/chemical) most welcome.

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