Previous investigations have shown that natural attenuation and biodegradation of chlorinated volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are substantial in shallow ground water beneath the 9-acre former landfill at Operable Unit 1 (OU 1), Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Division Keyport, Washington. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has continued to monitor ground-water geochemistry to assure that conditions remain favorable for contaminant biodegradation. This report presents ground-water geochemical and selected VOC data collected at OU 1 by the USGS during June 12-14, 2006, in support of long-term monitoring for natural attenuation.
For June 2006, the strongly reducing conditions (sulfate reduction and methanogenesis) most favorable for reductive dechlorination of VOCs were inferred for 5 of 15 upper-aquifer sites in the northern and southern phytoremediation plantations. Predominant redox conditions in ground water from the intermediate aquifer just downgradient from the landfill remained mildly reducing and somewhat favorable for reductive dechlorination. Since about 2003, measured dissolved hydrogen concentrations in the upper aquifer generally have been lower than those previously measured, although methane and sulfide have continued to be detected throughout the upper aquifer beneath the landfill. Overall, no widespread changes in ground-water redox conditions were measured that should result in either more or less efficient biodegradation of chlorinated VOCs.
For the northern plantation in 2006, chlorinated VOC concentrations at piezometers P1-3 and P1-4 were lower than previously measured, and trichloroethene (TCE), cis-1,2-dichloroethene (cis-DCE), or vinyl chloride (VC) were not detected at piezometers P1-1 and P1-5. The steady decrease in contaminant concentrations and the continued detection of the reductive dechlorination end-products ethene and ethane have been consistent throughout the upper aquifer beneath the northern plantation.
For the southern plantation in 2006, changes in chlorinated VOC concentrations at the piezometers were highly variable. At piezometer P1-9, the 2006 total chlorinated VOC concentration as well as the concentrations of cis-DCE and VC were measured at their highest levels to date; contaminant concentrations substantially decreased at piezometer P1-9 between June 2004 and June 2005. The reasons for the 2004-05 decrease in concentrations or the 2005-06 increase in concentrations are unknown. At piezometer P1-10, the consistent temporal trend of decreasing chlorinated VOC concentrations measured since 1999 ended, and the concentration of total chlorinated VOC in 2006 was the highest measured since 1999. The reductive dechlorination end-product ethene was measured at concentrations as high as 1,300 micrograms per liter in the upper aquifer beneath the southern plantation, which is reliable evidence that reductive dechlorination of VOCs is ongoing.