Measuring in situ reductive dechlorination rates in trichloroethene-contaminated groundwater Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/p5547t95t

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  • Trichloroethene (TCE) is the most frequently detected organic contaminant in groundwater, is classified as a probable human carcinogen, and exhibits toxicological effects on the human endocrine, immune, developmental, and reproductive systems. While significant research efforts have been devoted to the development of strategies for remediating TCE-contaminated groundwater, their advancement is currently hindered by limitations in current methodologies for measuring in situ reductive dechlorination rates, especially for sorbing solutes. This dissertation describes the development, evaluation, and demonstration of a method for measuring in situ reductive dechlorination rates that utilizes single-well, "push-pull" test technology. Initial field tests indicated that trichlorofluoroethene (TCFE) could be used as a surrogate for TCE in push-pull tests since (a) TCE and TCFE were transported similarly and (b) TCFE underwent reductive dechlorination by a pathway analogous to that of TCE while retaining the fluorine label. Because TCFE and TCE experienced sorption at the selected field site, a novel data analysis technique called "forced mass balance" (FMB) was developed to obtain in situ transformation rates of sorbing solutes from push-pull test data. The FMB technique was evaluated by quantifying errors in rates derived by applying FMB to push-pull test data generated by a numerical model. Results from simulated tests indicated that an example in situ rate for the reductive dechlorination of TCFE, which was obtained by applying FMB to field data, was underestimated relative to the true in situ rate by 10%. The utility of the rate-determination method presented in this dissertation was demonstrated by using it to evaluate the effectiveness of a chemical amendment, namely fumarate, at enhancing in situ reductive dechlorination rates in TCE-contaminated groundwater. Reductive dechlorination rates increased following three consecutive additions of fumarate in all five of the tested wells. The development of the rate-determination method described in this dissertation advances the state of bioremediation technology because methods for measuring in situ transformation rates are needed to both assess the potential for natural attenuation and to quantify the effects of bioremediation techniques in the field.
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