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Land application of sulfate salts for enhanced natural attenuation of benzene in groundwater; a case study

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doi: 10.1111/gwmr.12209
Authors:Kolhatkar, Ravi; Schnobrich, Matthew
Author Affiliations:Primary:
Chevron Energy Technology Company, Houston, TX, United States
ARCADIS U.S., Lexington, KY, United States
Volume Title:Ground Water Monitoring & Remediation
Source:Ground Water Monitoring & Remediation, 37(2), p.43-57. Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of National Ground Water Association, Malden, MA, United States. ISSN: 1069-3629
Publication Date:2017
Note:In English. 23 refs.; illus., incl. 2 tables
Summary:Sulfate reducing conditions are widely observed in groundwater plumes associated with petroleum hydrocarbon releases. This leads to sulfate depletion in groundwater which can limit biodegradation of hydrocarbons (usually benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes [BTEX] compounds) and can therefore result in extended timeframes to achieve groundwater cleanup objectives by monitored natural attenuation. Under these conditions, sulfate addition to the subsurface can potentially enhance BTEX biodegradation and facilitate enhanced natural attenuation. However, a delivery approach that enables effective contact with the hydrocarbons and is able to sustain elevated and uniform sulfate concentrations in groundwater remains a key challenge. In this case study, sulfate addition to a groundwater plume containing predominantly benzene by land application of agricultural gypsum and Epsom salt is described. Over 4 years of groundwater monitoring data from key wells subjected to pilot-scale and site-wide land application events are presented. These are compared to data from pilot testing employing liquid Epsom salt injections as an alternate sulfate delivery approach. Sulfate land application, sulfate retention within the vadose zone, and periodic infiltration following ongoing precipitation events resulted in elevated sulfate concentrations (>150 mg/L) in groundwater that were sustained over 12 months between application events and stimulated benzene biodegradation as indicated by declines in dissolved benzene concentration, and compound-specific isotope analysis data for carbon in benzene. Long-term groundwater benzene concentration reductions were achieved in spite of periodic rebounds resulting from water table fluctuations across the smear zone. Land application of gypsum is a potentially cost-effective sulfate delivery approach at sites with open, unpaved surfaces, relatively permeable geology, and shallow hydrocarbon impacts. However, more research is needed to understand the fate and persistence of sulfate and to improve the likelihood of success and effectiveness of this delivery approach. Abstract Copyright (2017), The Authors Groundwater Monitoring & Remediation published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of National Ground Water Association.
Subjects:Aquifers; Aromatic hydrocarbons; Benzene; Biodegradation; BTEX; Coastal environment; Concentration; Contaminant plumes; Degradation; Discharge; Dissolved oxygen; Excavations; Ground water; Hydrocarbons; Industrial waste; Infiltration; Intertidal environment; Land use; Natural attenuation; Observation wells; Organic compounds; Oxygen; Permeability; Petroleum products; Pollutants; Pollution; Reclamation; Shallow aquifers; Soil treatment; Solutes; Sulfates; Unsaturated zone; Waste disposal; New Jersey; United States
Record ID:800562-9
Copyright Information:GeoRef, Copyright 2021 American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, United Kingdom
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