A sulfuric acid leak in 1988 at a chloroethene-contaminated groundwater site at the Naval Air Station Pensacola has resulted in a long-term record of the behavior of chloroethene contaminants at low pH and a unique opportunity to assess the potential impact of source area treatment technologies, which involve acidification of the groundwater environment (e.g., Fenton's-based in situ chemical oxidation), on downgradient natural attenuation processes. The greater than 75 percent decrease in trichloroethene (TCE) concentrations and the shift in contaminant composition toward predominantly reduced daughter products (dichloroethene [DCE] and vinyl chloride [VC]) that were observed along a 30-m groundwater flow path characterized by highly acidic conditions (pH = 3.5 ± 0.4) demonstrated that chloroethene reductive dechlorination can continue to be efficient under persistent acidic conditions. The detection of Dehalococcoides-type bacteria within the sulfuric acid/chloroethene co-contaminant plume was consistent with biotic chloroethene reductive dechlorination. Microcosm studies conducted with 14C-TCE and 14C-VC confirmed biotic reductive dechlorination in sediment collected from within the sulfuric acid/chloroethene co-contaminant plume. Microcosms prepared with sediment from two other locations within the acid plume, however, demonstrated only a limited mineralization to 14CO2 and 14CO, which was attributed to abiotic degradation because no significant differences were observed between experimental and autoclaved control treatments. These results indicated that biotic and abiotic mechanisms contributed to chloroethene attenuation in the acid plume at NAS Pensacola and that remediation techniques involving acidification of the groundwater environment (e.g., Fenton's-based source area treatment) do not necessarily preclude efficient chloroethene degradation.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Chloroethene dechlorination in acidic groundwater: Implications for combining fenton's treatment with natural attenuation|
|Series title||Remediation Journal|
|Contributing office(s)||Toxic Substances Hydrology Program|
|Other Geospatial||Naval Air Station Pensacola|