1,1,2,2-Tetrachloroethane (TeCA) contaminated groundwater at the Aberdeen Proving Ground discharges through an anaerobic wetland in West Branch Canal Creek, MD, where dechlorination occurred. Two microbially mediated pathways, dichloroelimination and hydrogenolysis, account for most of the TeCA degradation at this site. The dichloroelimination pathways led to the formation of vinyl chloride (VC), a recalcitrant carcinogen of great concern. The effect of adding Fe(III) to TeCA-amended microcosms of wetland sediment was studied. Differences were identified in the TeCA degradation pathway between microcosms treated with amorphous ferric oxyhydroxide (AFO-treated) and untreated (no AFO) microcosms. TeCA degradation was accompanied by a lower accumulation of VC in AFO-treated microcosms than no AFO microcosms. The microcosm incubations and subsequent experiments with the microcosm materials showed that AFO treatment resulted in lower production of VC by shifting TeCA degradation from dichloroelimination pathways to production of a greater proportion of chlorinated ethane products, and decreasing the microbial capability to produce VC from 1,2-dichloroethylene. VC degradation was not stimulated in the presence of Fe(III). Rather, VC degradation occurred readily under methanogenic conditions and was inhibited under Fe(III)-reducing conditions.
Additional publication details
Effect of Fe(III) on 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane degradation and vinyl chloride accumulation in wetland sediments of the Aberdeen proving ground