Title : Remediation activities in the former mercury mine of Abbadia San Salvatore (Tuscany, central Italy)
The former mercury mining district at the foothill of the 200-300,000 years old volcanic complex of Mt. Amiata (Tuscany, central Italy) were one of the most important mines worldwide and the mining site of Abbadia San Salvatore (ASS) was the core of the exploitation of cinnabar and the production of liquid mercury. It also represented a technologically advanced site for Hg-estraction where Gould and Nesa furnaces were operating. During about 130 years (1847-1974) of activity about 100,000 tons of mercury were produced. Presently, the mining complex of ASS covers about 65 ha and contains more than 90 mining structures and workers’ edifices. Since 2008, the local municipality has been in charge of the environmental issue and a lot of efforts are currently carried out to turn the mining site into a historic museum and a mining park, the archaeometallurgic structures being an invaluable treasure to be safeguarded, maintained and transmitted to future generations. Evidence of contamination by mercury were found in both geological, i.e. soils, underground and surface waters and air, and anthropogenic, e.g. wood, metals, building materials, matrices. The present work reports an update of the actions that were and are to be undertaken to minimize as much as possible the environmental impact that was evaluated according to the most recent regulatory laws. Consequently, a geochemical characterization of the geogenic and anthropogenic material was carried and operational cleanings during the reclamation activities were already started following an environmental sustainability code, considering that no many examples of decontamination of abandoned Hg mines are available worldwide.
Decontamination of mercury in abandoned mining sites is relatively infrequent?
Some solutions to solve the Hg contamination are proposed, thus providing practical solutions to solve remediation problems. This study provides interesting environmental issues about the mercury geochemistry, since they involve both geological and anthropogenic materials.