The EPA has estimated that there are over 3,000 sites across the United States contaminated with lead. Techniques to remediate these sites include standard stabilization/disposal technologies, reclamation of lead using secondary lead smelters, soil washing and biological removal technologies.This paper presents the results of a study recently conducted by the Center for Hazardous Materials Research (CHMR), in conjunction with a major lead smelter, which demonstrates that secondary lead smelters may be used economically to reclaim lead from a wide range of lead-containing materials frequently found at Superfund sites. Such materials include battery case materials, lead dross, and other debris containing between 3% and 70% lead.During the study, CHMR and the smelter reclaimed lead from five sets of materials, including two Superfund sites containing primarily battery cases, and one battery breaker/smelter site with a variety of lead-containing materials. Between 20 and 1500 tons of materials from these sites were excavated and processed at the smelter, while the research team assessed the effects on furnace operation and performance. Two additional sets of materials, one from the demolition of a house containing lead-based paint, and the other consisting of blasting abrasive material from work on a bridge coated with lead paint, were also processed in the smelter. The results showed that it was technically feasible to use the secondary lead smelter to reclaim lead from all of the materials.CHMR also assessed the economics of using secondary lead smelters to reclaim lead from Superfund sites, and developed a method for estimating the cost of reclaiming lead. This method develops cost as a function of material excavation, transportation and processing costs combined with cost benefits received by the smelter (in the form of recovered lead, reduced fuel usage and/or reduced iron usage). The total remediation costs using secondary lead smelters for the sites and materials studied varied between $80 and $374 per ton, based on January 1994 market prices for lead. The costs were primarily a function of lead concentration, the market price for lead, distance from the smelter, and the amount of materials which become incorporated into slag from the process, although other factors affected the economics as well. Materials with high concentrations of lead were significantly less expensive to remediate than those with low concentrations. The cost to remediate materials which left few slag residues in the furnace was significantly lower than the cost to remediate materials which contained significant slagging components.The research described in this article was funded under a cooperative agreement with the US Environmental Protection Agency, under the Emerging Technologies Program.
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