Waste water discharge from a large Ni-Zn open cast mine degrades benthic integrity of Lake Nuasjärvi (Finland)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

The Talvivaara/Terrafame multi-metal mining company is Europe’s largest nickel open cast mine, it is also known for the largest wastewater leakage in the Finnish mining history and a series of other accidents. In this paleolimnological study, influences of a recently constructed treated waste water discharge pipeline into Lake Nuasjärvi were investigated by analyzing past (pre-disturbance) and present community compositions of key aquatic organism groups, including diatoms, Cladocera and Chironomidae, along spatial (distance, water depth) gradients. In addition to defining ecological changes and impacts of saline mine waters in the lake, chironomids were used to quantitatively reconstruct bottom water oxygen conditions before and after the pipe installation (in 2015). The diatom and cladoceran communities, which reflect more the open-water habitat, showed only relatively minor changes throughout the lake, but a general decrease in diversity was observed within both groups. Chironomids, which live on substrates, showed more significant changes, including complete faunal turnovers and deteriorated benthic quality, especially at the sites close to the pipe outlet, where also chironomid diversity was almost completely lost. Furthermore, the reconstructed hypolimnetic oxygen values indicated a major oxygen decline and even anoxia at the sites near the pipe outlet. The limnoecological influence of the pipe decreased at sites located counter-flow or behind underwater barriers suggesting that the waste waters currently have location-specific impacts. Our study clearly demonstrates that whereas the upper water layers appear to have generally maintained their previous state, the deep-water layers close to the pipe outlet have lost their ecological integrity. Furthermore, the current hypolimnetic anoxia close to the pipe indicates enhanced lake stratification caused by the salinated mine waters. This study clearly exhibits the need to investigate different water bodies at several trophic levels in a spatiotemporal context to be able to reliably assess limnoecological impacts of mining.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
ISSN0269-7491
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sep 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • Chironomidae
  • Cladocera
  • diatoms
  • mine impact
  • paleolimnology
  • 1172 Environmental sciences

Cite this

@article{df3e9a53ae6e45c1b7313d8e577c5f97,
title = "Waste water discharge from a large Ni-Zn open cast mine degrades benthic integrity of Lake Nuasj{\"a}rvi (Finland)",
abstract = "The Talvivaara/Terrafame multi-metal mining company is Europe’s largest nickel open cast mine, it is also known for the largest wastewater leakage in the Finnish mining history and a series of other accidents. In this paleolimnological study, influences of a recently constructed treated waste water discharge pipeline into Lake Nuasj{\"a}rvi were investigated by analyzing past (pre-disturbance) and present community compositions of key aquatic organism groups, including diatoms, Cladocera and Chironomidae, along spatial (distance, water depth) gradients. In addition to defining ecological changes and impacts of saline mine waters in the lake, chironomids were used to quantitatively reconstruct bottom water oxygen conditions before and after the pipe installation (in 2015). The diatom and cladoceran communities, which reflect more the open-water habitat, showed only relatively minor changes throughout the lake, but a general decrease in diversity was observed within both groups. Chironomids, which live on substrates, showed more significant changes, including complete faunal turnovers and deteriorated benthic quality, especially at the sites close to the pipe outlet, where also chironomid diversity was almost completely lost. Furthermore, the reconstructed hypolimnetic oxygen values indicated a major oxygen decline and even anoxia at the sites near the pipe outlet. The limnoecological influence of the pipe decreased at sites located counter-flow or behind underwater barriers suggesting that the waste waters currently have location-specific impacts. Our study clearly demonstrates that whereas the upper water layers appear to have generally maintained their previous state, the deep-water layers close to the pipe outlet have lost their ecological integrity. Furthermore, the current hypolimnetic anoxia close to the pipe indicates enhanced lake stratification caused by the salinated mine waters. This study clearly exhibits the need to investigate different water bodies at several trophic levels in a spatiotemporal context to be able to reliably assess limnoecological impacts of mining.",
keywords = "Chironomidae, Cladocera, diatoms, mine impact, paleolimnology, 1172 Environmental sciences",
author = "Luoto, {Tomi P.} and Lepp{\"a}nen, {Jaakko Johannes} and Jan Weckstr{\"o}m",
year = "2019",
month = "9",
day = "20",
doi = "10.1016/j.envpol.2019.113268",
language = "English",
journal = "Environmental Pollution",
issn = "0269-7491",
publisher = "ELSEVIER SCI IRELAND LTD",

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TY - JOUR

T1 - Waste water discharge from a large Ni-Zn open cast mine degrades benthic integrity of Lake Nuasjärvi (Finland)

AU - Luoto, Tomi P.

AU - Leppänen, Jaakko Johannes

AU - Weckström, Jan

PY - 2019/9/20

Y1 - 2019/9/20

N2 - The Talvivaara/Terrafame multi-metal mining company is Europe’s largest nickel open cast mine, it is also known for the largest wastewater leakage in the Finnish mining history and a series of other accidents. In this paleolimnological study, influences of a recently constructed treated waste water discharge pipeline into Lake Nuasjärvi were investigated by analyzing past (pre-disturbance) and present community compositions of key aquatic organism groups, including diatoms, Cladocera and Chironomidae, along spatial (distance, water depth) gradients. In addition to defining ecological changes and impacts of saline mine waters in the lake, chironomids were used to quantitatively reconstruct bottom water oxygen conditions before and after the pipe installation (in 2015). The diatom and cladoceran communities, which reflect more the open-water habitat, showed only relatively minor changes throughout the lake, but a general decrease in diversity was observed within both groups. Chironomids, which live on substrates, showed more significant changes, including complete faunal turnovers and deteriorated benthic quality, especially at the sites close to the pipe outlet, where also chironomid diversity was almost completely lost. Furthermore, the reconstructed hypolimnetic oxygen values indicated a major oxygen decline and even anoxia at the sites near the pipe outlet. The limnoecological influence of the pipe decreased at sites located counter-flow or behind underwater barriers suggesting that the waste waters currently have location-specific impacts. Our study clearly demonstrates that whereas the upper water layers appear to have generally maintained their previous state, the deep-water layers close to the pipe outlet have lost their ecological integrity. Furthermore, the current hypolimnetic anoxia close to the pipe indicates enhanced lake stratification caused by the salinated mine waters. This study clearly exhibits the need to investigate different water bodies at several trophic levels in a spatiotemporal context to be able to reliably assess limnoecological impacts of mining.

AB - The Talvivaara/Terrafame multi-metal mining company is Europe’s largest nickel open cast mine, it is also known for the largest wastewater leakage in the Finnish mining history and a series of other accidents. In this paleolimnological study, influences of a recently constructed treated waste water discharge pipeline into Lake Nuasjärvi were investigated by analyzing past (pre-disturbance) and present community compositions of key aquatic organism groups, including diatoms, Cladocera and Chironomidae, along spatial (distance, water depth) gradients. In addition to defining ecological changes and impacts of saline mine waters in the lake, chironomids were used to quantitatively reconstruct bottom water oxygen conditions before and after the pipe installation (in 2015). The diatom and cladoceran communities, which reflect more the open-water habitat, showed only relatively minor changes throughout the lake, but a general decrease in diversity was observed within both groups. Chironomids, which live on substrates, showed more significant changes, including complete faunal turnovers and deteriorated benthic quality, especially at the sites close to the pipe outlet, where also chironomid diversity was almost completely lost. Furthermore, the reconstructed hypolimnetic oxygen values indicated a major oxygen decline and even anoxia at the sites near the pipe outlet. The limnoecological influence of the pipe decreased at sites located counter-flow or behind underwater barriers suggesting that the waste waters currently have location-specific impacts. Our study clearly demonstrates that whereas the upper water layers appear to have generally maintained their previous state, the deep-water layers close to the pipe outlet have lost their ecological integrity. Furthermore, the current hypolimnetic anoxia close to the pipe indicates enhanced lake stratification caused by the salinated mine waters. This study clearly exhibits the need to investigate different water bodies at several trophic levels in a spatiotemporal context to be able to reliably assess limnoecological impacts of mining.

KW - Chironomidae

KW - Cladocera

KW - diatoms

KW - mine impact

KW - paleolimnology

KW - 1172 Environmental sciences

U2 - 10.1016/j.envpol.2019.113268

DO - 10.1016/j.envpol.2019.113268

M3 - Article

JO - Environmental Pollution

JF - Environmental Pollution

SN - 0269-7491

ER -