Increased concentrations of heavy metals in ash can adversely affect the microbiological and pedogenetic processes in soil. The aim of this paper is to determine the impact of ash from unburned coal generated in the Kostolac and Gacko coal basins on the quality of soil in the surrounding environment. The investigation included the surface soil layer that was sampled and tested during 2016 and 2017. A total of 30 samples of Kostolac soil and 9 samples of Gacko soil were analyzed for the content of 8 heavy metals: Cu, Pb, Cd, Zn, Hg, As, Cr and Ni. The analyses were carried out by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICPMS) technique according to the EPA 6020A method and the following conclusions were made: Kostolac coal ash affects the quality of the surrounding soil in terms of Ni, Cu and Cr as evidenced by the moderately strong correlation of the Ni-Cu pair (k = 0.71), as well as the Cu-Cr pair (k = 0.73) and strong correlation of the Ni-Cr pair (k = 0.82), while the high recorded concentration of Pb, Hg, As and Zn is attributed to other sources of pollution, such as the traffic network and intensive farming activities, and in some cases, its impact is only local. All recorded concentrations of heavy metals are within the remediation values. The effect of ash on soil contamination in the surroundings of the Gacko coal basin is limited to Ni and Cd, with a strong correlation coefficient of this pair (k = 0.82). The recorded overrun of maximum allowed concentration of Cr is evidenced in only 2 samples, and in terms of this element the contamination of the Gacko soil can be considered to be local. It is concluded that prevailing winds play a part in soil pollution. Cluster analysis showed that Ni, Cr and Zn have very similar values in analyzed soil samples from both basins, while a cluster composed of only Hg, in the case of Gacko, indicates lower contamination with Hg compared to the other heavy metals.
Savic, D., Nisic, D., Malic, N., Dragosavljevic, Z., & Medenica, D. (2018). Research on power plant ash impact on the quality of soil in kostolac and gacko coal basins. Minerals, 8(2). https://doi.org/10.3390/min8020054