Accidental and incidental chemical releases of nitrogen-containing fertilizers occur at retail agrichemical facilities. Because contaminated soil may threaten groundwater quality, the facility may require some type of site remediation. The purpose of this study was to apply the concepts of the Soil Screening Levels of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to derive soil cleanup objectives (SCO) that are protective of groundwater quality in Illinois for nitrogen as nitrate and as ammonium. The Soil Screening Levels are based on the solute transport mechanisms of sorption, volatilization, and groundwater dilution, and the contaminant-specific groundwater cleanup objective used to derive the SCO. Because nitrate is relatively unreactive, only groundwater dilution could be taken into account in the derivation of a SCO. Using a default groundwater objective for potable groundwater, an SCO of 38 mg N-NO3/kg was derived. For ammonium, however, the extent of sorption was measured using an uncontaminated, surface-soil sample (0 to 15 cm) of 10 different soil types that occur in Illinois and three gravel-fill samples from three different agrichemical facilities. Using a default groundwater objective, an SCO was derived for each soil type. The median SCO was 989 mg N-NH4/kg. The SCO calculated for each of the 10 soil and 3 fill samples was positively correlated with cation exchange capacity, clay content, and surface area. It was concluded that this approach can be used to derive either default of site-specific SCOs for nitrogen as nitrate and as ammonium for chemical releases. Copyright ?? Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
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Potential soil cleanup objectives for nitrogen-containing fertilizers at agrichemical facilities