Water-quality and hydrologic conditions at a site of ground-water contamination by volatile organic compounds, South Grafton, Massachusetts, September and October 1994

Open-File Report 95-425




Ground-water quality and hydrologic data were collected at a site contaminated by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in South Grafton, Massachusetts, during September and October 1994. The VOCs have formed a plume of contaminated ground water at an abandoned textile mill adjacent to the Blackstone River. Concentrations of total VOCs in the plume ranged from less than 1 to more than 40,000 micrograms per liter. Trichloroethylene (TCE) was the primary chlorinated contaminant, comprising as much as 98 percent of the total VOCs. The highest concentration, 43,000 micrograms per liter, was higher than any previously measured concentration at the site; however, the maximum extent and distribution of concentrations in the VOC plume in September 1994 was similar to that found in July 1993 and in earlier rounds of sampling. In addition to TCE, 1,2-dichloroethene (1,2-DCE) and vinyl chloride were detected at most sites. Spatial and temporal changes in concentrations of TCE, 1,2-DCE, and vinyl chloride are consistent with the hypothesis that TCE biodegradation was the source of 1,2-DCE and vinyl chloride. Ground water at the site contained low to moderately high concentrations of dissolved solids (44 to 406 milligrams per liter), had a moderately high specific conductance (155 to 670 microsiemens per centimeter at 25 degrees Celsius), and was slightly acidic (pH=5.9 to 7.0). Concentrations of the major ions-calcium, sodium, chloride, and sulfate-were not related to VOC concentrations. Dissolved-oxygen concentrations were low (0 to 2 milligrams per liter) throughout most of the aquifer. Distribution of nitrogen species, iron, and manganese indicates that zones of varying oxidation-reduction potential were present in the aquifer. Concentrations of trace metals other than iron or manganese, including arsenic, cadmium, chromium, and copper, generally were less than analytical detection limits. Stream stage in the Blackstone River at the site during September and October 1994 fluctuated by about 1 to 2 feet within 24-hour periods. These rapid fluctuations resulted from sudden release of impounded water at a hydroelectric-generating facility downstream from the site. In addition to the daily fluctuations, rapid small changes in stream stage also occurred that were related to storms. Fluctuations in ground-water levels in four observation wells at the site were similar in amplitude and timing to the rapid fluctuations in stream stage; the daily fluctuations of ground-water levels were greatest in an observation well within 100 feet of the river and least in an observation well about 300 feet from the river. Because ground- water levels at the study site seem to be affected by fluctuations in stage of the Blackstone River, transport of the VOC plume in ground water also is likely to be affected by the fluctuations in stage.

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Water-quality and hydrologic conditions at a site of ground-water contamination by volatile organic compounds, South Grafton, Massachusetts, September and October 1994
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Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey ; U.S. Geological Survey, Earth Science Information Center, Open-File Reports Section [distributor],
iv, 19 p. :ill. ;28 cm.