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Improved assessment and performance monitoring of a biowall at a chlorinated solvent site using high-resolution passive sampling

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Background / Objectives

This study contrasts the use of high-resolution passive sampling and traditional groundwater monitoring wells (GWMW) to characterize a chlorinated solvent site and assess the effectiveness of a biowall (mulch, compost and sand) that was installed to remediate trichloroethene (TCE), the primary contaminant of concern. High-resolution passive profilers (HRPPs) were direct driven hydraulically upgradient, within, and hydraulically downgradient of the biowall and in close proximity to existing GWMWs. Compared with hydraulically upgradient locations, the biowall was highly reducing, there were higher densities of bacteria/genes capable of reductive dechlorination, and TCE was being reductively transformed, but not completely, as cis-1,2-dichloroethene (cis-DCE) was detected within and hydraulically downgradient of the biowall. However, based on the high-resolution data, there were a number of important findings which were not discoverable using data from GWMWs alone. Data from the HRPPs indicate that the biowall was completely transforming TCE to ethene (C2H4) except within a high velocity interval, where the concentrations were reduced, but breakthrough of cis-DCE was apparent. Hydraulically upgradient of the biowall, concentrations of TCE increased with depth where a very low permeability zone exists that will likely remain as a long-term source. In addition, although low concentrations of cis-DCE were present downgradient of the biowall, surfacing into a downgradient stream was not detected. This study demonstrates the advantages of high-resolution passive sampling of aquifers to assess the performance of remediation techniques compared to traditional methods such as GWMWs.

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