Because remediation timeframes using monitored natural attenuation may span decades or even centuries at chlorinated solvent sites, new approaches are needed to assess the long-term sustainability of reductive dechlorination in ground water systems. In this study, extraction procedures were used to investigate the mass of indigenous organic carbon in aquifer sediment, and experiments were conducted to determine if the extracted carbon could support reductive dechlorination of chloroethenes. Aquifer sediment cores were collected from a site without an anthropogenic source of organic carbon where organic carbon varied from 0.02% to 0.12%. Single extraction results showed that 1% to 28% of sediment-associated organic carbon and 2% to 36% of the soft carbon were removed depending on nature and concentration of the extracting solution (Nanopure water; 0.1%, 0.5%, and 1.0% sodium pyrophosphate; and 0.5 N sodium hydroxide). Soft carbon is defined as organic carbon oxidized with potassium persulfate and is assumed to serve as a source of biodegradable carbon within the aquifer. Biodegradability studies demonstrated that 20% to 40% of extracted organic carbon was biodegraded aerobically and anaerobically by soil microorganisms in relatively brief tests (45 d). A five-step extraction procedure consisting of 0.1% pyrophosphate and base solutions was investigated to quantify bioavailable organic carbon. Using the extracted carbon as the sole electron donor source, tetrachloroethene was transformed to cis-1,2- dichloroethene and vinyl chloride in anaerobic enrichment culture experiments. Hydrogen gas was produced at levels necessary to sustain reductive dechlorination (>1 nM). ?? 2007 National Ground Water Association.
Additional publication details
Investigation of reductive dechlorination supported by natural organic carbon