A joint study by the Dover National Test Site, Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, and the U.S. Geological Survey was conducted from June 27 through July 18, 2001, to determine the spatial distribution of the gasoline oxygenate additive methyl tert-butyl ether and selected water-quality constituents in the surficial aquifer underlying the Dover National Test Site. This report provides a summary assessment of the distribution of methyl tert-butyl ether and a preliminary screening of selected constituents that may affect natural attenuation and remediation demonstrations at the Dover National Test Site. The information gathered during this study is designed to assist potential remedial investigators who are considering conducting a methyl tert-butyl ether remedial demonstration at the test site. In addition, the study supported a planned enhanced bioremediation demonstration and assisted the Dover National Test Site in identifying possible locations for future methyl tert-butyl ether remediation demonstrations.
A direct-push drill rig was used to collect a total of 147 ground-water samples (115 VOC samples and 32 quality-assurance samples) at varying depths. Volatile organic compounds were above the method reporting limits in 59 of the 115 ground-water samples. The concentrations ranged from below detection limits to maximum values of 12.4 micrograms per liter of cis-1,2-dichloro-ethene, 1.14 micrograms per liter of trichloro-ethene, 2.65 micrograms per liter of tetrachloro-ethene, 1,070 micrograms per liter of methyl tert-butyl ether, 4.36 micrograms per liter of benzene, and 1.8 micrograms per liter of toluene. Vinyl chloride, ethylbenzene, p,m-xylene, and o-xylene were not detected in any of the samples collected during this investigation. Methyl tert-butyl ether was detected in 47 of the 115 ground-water samples. The highest concentrations of methyl tert-butyl ether were detected in the surficial aquifer from ?4.6 to 6.4 feet mean sea level; however, methyl tert-butyl ether was detected as deep as ?9.5 feet mean sea level. Increased methane concentrations and decreased dissolved oxygen concentrations that were found in association with the ground-water samples that contained methyl tert-butyl ether are preliminary indicators that will assist in determining if natural attenuation of methyl tert-butyl ether is occurring in the surficial aquifer. A full assessment of natural attenuation of methyl tert-butyl ether at the site is beyond the scope of this study, but the data collected during the study will be useful in selecting appropriate remedial methyl tert-butyl ether demonstrations.
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USGS Numbered Series
Distribution of methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) and selected water-quality constituents in the surficial aquifer at the Dover National Test Site, Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, 2001