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Importance of microscopy in durability studies of solidified and stabilized contaminated soils

Soil Science Society of America Journal

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Abstract

Solidification/stabilization (S/S) is recognized by the U.S. EPA as a best demonstrated available technology for the containment of contaminated soils and other hazardous wastes that cannot be destroyed by chemical, thermal, or biological means. Despite the increased use of S/S technologies, little research has been conducted on the weathering and degradation of solidified and stabilized wastes once the treated materials have been buried. Published data to verify the performance and durability of landfilled treated wastes over time are rare. In this preliminary study, optical and electron microscopy (scanning electron microscopy [SEM], transmission electron microscopy [TEM] and electron probe microanalyses [EPMA]) were used to evaluate weathering features associated with metal-bearing contaminated soil that had been solidified and stabilized with Portland cement and subsequently buried on site, stored outdoors aboveground, or achieved in a laboratory warehouse for up to 6 yr. Physical and chemical alteration processes identified include: freeze-thaw cracking, cracking caused by the formation of expansive minerals such as ettringite, carbonation, and the movement of metals from waste aggregates into the cement micromass. Although the extent of degradation after 6 yr is considered slight to moderate, results of this study show that the same environmental concerns that affect the durability of concrete must be considered when evaluating the durability and permanence of the solidification and stabilization of contaminated soils with cement. In addition, such evaluations cannot be based on leaching and chemical analyses alone. The use of all levels of microscopic analyses must be incorporated into studies of the long-term performance of S/S technologies.Solidification/stabilization (S/S) is recognized by the U.S. EPA as a best demonstrated available technology for the containment of contaminated soils and other hazardous wastes that cannot be destroyed by chemical, thermal, or biological means. Despite the increased use of S/S technologies, little research has been conducted on the weathering and degradation of solidified and stabilized wastes once the treated materials have been buried. Published data to verify the performance and durability of landfilled treated wastes over time are rare. In this preliminary study, optical and electron microscopy (scanning electron microscopy [SEM], transmission electron microscopy [TEM] and electron probe microanalyses [EPMA]) were used to evaluate weathering features associated with metal-bearing contaminated soil that had been solidified and stabilized with Portland cement and subsequently buried on site, stored outdoors aboveground, or archived in a laboratory, warehouse for up to 6 yr. Physical and chemical alteration processes identified include: freeze-thaw cracking, cracking caused by the formation of expansive minerals such as ettringite, carbonation, and the movement of metals from waste aggregates into the cement micromass. Although the extent of degradation after 6 yr is considered slight to moderate, results of this study show that the same environmental concerns that affect the durability of concrete must be considered when evaluating the durability and permanence of the solidification and stabilization of contaminated soils with cement. In addition, such evaluations cannot be based on leaching and chemical analyses alone. The use of all levels of microscopic analyses must be incorporated into studies of the long-term performance of S/S technologies.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Importance of microscopy in durability studies of solidified and stabilized contaminated soils
Series title:
Soil Science Society of America Journal
Volume
63
Issue:
5
Year Published:
1999
Language:
English
Publisher:
Soil Science Soc of America
Publisher location:
Madison, WI, United States
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
First page:
1274
Last page:
1283
Number of Pages:
10