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 EPA/600/R-09/062

  Final Report for Sampling and Analysis Project - Beneficial Use of Red and Brown Mud and Phosphogypsum as Alternative Construction Materials: Regional Applied Research Effort (RARE) Project
August 2008

Red and brown muds are the secondary materials generated from the extraction of alumina from bauxite, an aluminum-containing sedimentary rock (Ref. 2). Phosphogypsum is the secondary material generated by the phosphorous fertilizer industry from phosphate-containing sedimentary rock (Ref. 3). These materials were directly discharged to water bodies until the mid-1970's. Since then, the materials have been managed in land-based units, either in surface impoundments or as mono-fill landfills. Currently, there are hundreds of millions of cubic yards of these materials located within the state of Louisiana along the Mississippi River, and the individual materials are generated annually at a rate of approximately 3 million cubic yards.

Red and brown mud and phosphogypsum, either as individual materials or as a mixture, should be considered as potential alternate construction materials, possibly in levees and/or levee support systems along the Gulf Coast. The availability of suitable construction material in southern Louisiana is limited, and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is currently seeking 100 million cubic yards of clay material to complete construction of hurricane protection levees and floodwalls in southern Louisiana.

The projected environmental benefit and cost savings of the beneficial use of these secondary materials could be considerable. An appropriate level of assurance in the environmental performance and system design, however, is crucial in order for the proposed use of these secondary materials to be successful.

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Diana Bless

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