‘We want to develop a treatment that you would apply … that would block the arsenic and the mercury’
Researchers from three Maritime universities are hoping microbes collected from the bottom of a lake near an abandoned gold mine in Dartmouth, N.S., will provide a model for how to clean up contaminated sites across the province in a quicker and less-intrusive way.
Last May, a research team took a boat to the middle of Lake Charles, not far from the former Montague gold mine, where extensive mining took place from 1860 to about 1940.
They lowered a plastic tube 30 metres into the water and scooped up 200-year-old sediment, which provides a snapshot of the lake before, during and after the mine was in operation.
Josh Kurek, an associate professor of environmental science at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B., said preliminary findings show a striking increase in both mercury and arsenic at Lake Charles after mining began.
In some cases, the concentration of toxins was 30 times higher than levels known to harm aquatic life, he said.