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Issue 7, 2009
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Environmental problems in the Estonian oil shale industry

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In Estonia technologies for oil shale mining and consuming have been continuously developed for more than 80 years. By March 2006 one billion tonnes of oil shale had been produced in Estonia. Since the 1960s, Estonia has been the largest oil shale producer and consumer in the world. In the 1980s about two-thirds of the world's oil shale output came from Estonia. Serious problems in the mining complex are connected with large losses of oil shale at mining and enrichment (more than 30%) and voluminous dewatering (25 m3 per tonne of oil shale). After mining and beneficiation, much limestone remains unused and is deposited in waste dumps. Oil shale waste and waste heaps may be considered a rather innocent production residue; however, from time to time they are subject to self-ignition. Following combustion of enriched oil shale, ash remains which also has to be deposited. The most toxic waste (semicoke) comes from the oil-shale chemical industry. Power stations using oil shale emit large amounts of carbon dioxide and other gases; the groundwater regime, and often also the water quality, are altered in mined-out areas. Environmental effects and the resulting immediate hazards were greatest in the 1980s, now the situation is improving.

Graphical abstract: Environmental problems in the Estonian oil shale industry

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Article information

03 Nov 2008
11 Feb 2009
First published
09 Apr 2009

Energy Environ. Sci., 2009,2, 723-728
Article type

Environmental problems in the Estonian oil shale industry

A. Raukas and J. Punning, Energy Environ. Sci., 2009, 2, 723
DOI: 10.1039/B819315K

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