The Savage Municipal Well Superfund site in the Town of Milford, N.H., is underlain by a 0.5-square mile plume of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), mostly tetrachloroethylene (PCE). The plume occurs mostly within a highly transmissive sand and gravel layer, but also extends into underlying till and bedrock. The plume has been divided into two areas called Operable Unit 1 (OU1), which contains the primary source area, and Operable Unit 2 (OU2), which is defined as the extended plume area.
PCE concentrations in excess of 100,000 parts per billion (ppb) had been detected in the OU1 area in 1995, indicating a likely Dense Non-Aqueous Phase Liquid (DNAPL) source. In the fall of 1998, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) installed a remedial system in OU1 to contain and capture the dissolved VOC plume. The OU1 remedial system includes a low-permeability barrier wall that encircles the highest detected concentrations of PCE, and a series of injection and extraction wells to contain and remove contaminants. The barrier wall likely penetrates the full thickness of the sand and gravel; in most places, it also penetrates the full thickness of the underlying basal till and sits atop bedrock. Remedial injection and extraction wells have been operating since the spring of 1999 and include a series of interior (inside the barrier wall) injection and extractions wells and exterior (outside the barrier wall) injection and extraction wells. A recharge gallery outside the barrier wall receives the bulk of the treated water and reinjects it into the shallow aquifer.
From 1998 to 2004, PCE concentrations decreased by an average of 80 percent at most wells outside the barrier wall. This decrease indicates (1) the barrier wall and interior extraction effectively contained high PCE concentrations inside the wall, (2) other sources of PCE did not appear to be outside of the wall, and (3) ambient ground-water flow in conjunction with the exterior remedial wells effectively remediated most of the dissolved PCE plume outside the wall.
The overburden at middle depths (40 to 70 ft below land surface) downgradient from exterior extraction wells showed relatively slow decreases in PCE concentrations compared to other areas outside the barrier wall. Numerical simulation shows extraction caused the formation of a small downgradient slow-velocity zone. Because the ambient ground-water velocities are high (approximately 1 foot per day), temporary termination of extraction at the exterior wells may increase dilution downgradient from the exterior extraction wells. Extraction can also be optimized on the basis of seasonal hydrologic conditions to facilitate exterior well capture from upgradient areas outside of the barrier wall where PCE concentrations are highest.
Reductions in concentrations of PCE inside the barrier wall from 1998 to 2003 were minimal near suspected source areas, indicating that the operation of interior remedial wells had not been effective in remediating dissolved PCE or the DNAPL source. Capture of the dissolved PCE plume within the barrier wall by interior extraction wells could be enhanced if operation (injection rates) increased at underutilized interior injection wells, thereby increasing hydraulic gradients.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Effects of a remedial system and its operation on volatile organic compound-contaminated ground water, Operable Unit 1, Savage Municipal Well Superfund Site, Milford, New Hampshire, 1998-2004