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Mining waste byproduct could help clean water

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LEETOWN (AP) - Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey say a byproduct of acid mine drainage treatment may be able to help clean agricultural and municipal wastewaters.

The study was done at the agency's Leetown Science Center in West Virginia. It shows that dried acid mine drainage sludge can be used as a low-cost adsorbent to remove phosphorus from wastewaters.

Officials say the technology can potentially help lower acid mine drainage treatment costs, prevent the degrading of aquatic ecosystems and recycle valuable nutrients.

Acid mine drainage is produced whenever sulfide minerals from coal and metal deposits are exposed to air and moisture. The resulting acid and dissolved metals are toxic to most forms of aquatic life. Untreated drainage has impacted more than 5,000 miles of streams in the Appalachian region.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.