Soil mercury levels in the area surrounding the Cerro Prieto geothermal complex, MEXICO
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Even though geothermal energy is a renewable energy source that is seen as cost-effective and environmentally friendly, emissions from geothermal plants can impact air, soil, and water in the vicinity of geothermal power plants. The Cerro Prieto geothermal complex is located 30 km southeast of the city of Mexicali in the Mexican state of Baja California. Its installed electricity generation capacity is 720 MW, being the largest geothermal complex in Mexico. The objective of this study was to evaluate whether the emissions generated by the geothermal complex have increased the soil mercury concentration in the surrounding areas. Fifty-four surface soil samples were collected from the perimeter up to an approximate distance of 7660 m from the complex. Additionally, four soil depth profiles were performed in the vicinity of the complex. Mercury concentration in 69 % of the samples was higher than the mercury concentration found at the baseline sites. The mercury concentration ranged from 0.01 to 0.26 mg/kg. Our results show that the activities of the geothermal complex have led to an accumulation of mercury in the soil of the surrounding area. More studies are needed to determine the risk to human health and the ecosystems in the study area. © 2016, Springer International Publishing Switzerland.
INIS/ETDE Thesaurus:Environmental impact statements
- Cerro Prieto