Following the Aznalcóllar pyrite mine disaster (Seville, Spain) which caused the spilling of some of acid water, the floodplains of the rivers Agrio and Guadiamar were rapidly cleaned of waste sludge. However, despite the efficiency of cleaning activities, there is still evidence of a fine superficial layer of sludge and some soil contamination, with the consequent risk of remobilisation of the pollutants by water erosion. There is much concern that these contaminated sediments may affect the precious ecosystems of the Doñana National Park and the Guadalquivir marshlands. This report describes the evaluation of the risk of mobilisation of the waste sludge through (1) detailed geomorphological analysis, indicating potential areas of erosion-sedimentation on the floodplains of the rivers Agrio and Guadiamar, and predicted dynamics of the waste sludge, and (2) evaluation of the potential dispersion of the waste sludge provoked by future flood events, including hydraulic calculations to model channel flow and the analysis of the texture of the sludge to obtain critical transport and sedimentation values. Findings suggest that the waste sludge is likely to be transported and deposited within the Doñana National Park during future flood events.

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Published on 01/01/2001

DOI: 10.1007/s002540000230
Licence: CC BY-NC-SA license

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