The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, began a reconnaissance study of a site in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma, in 2005 by testing soil, shallow ground water, and plant material for the presence of trace elements and semivolatile organic compounds. Chemical analysis of plant material at the site was investigated as a preliminary tool to determine the extent of contamination at the site.
Thirty soil samples were collected from 15 soil cores during October 2005 and analyzed for trace elements and semivolatile organic compounds. Five small-diameter, polyvinyl-chloride-cased wells were installed and ground-water samples were collected during December 2005 and May 2006 and analyzed for trace elements and semivolatile organic compounds. Thirty Johnsongrass samples and 16 Coralberry samples were collected during September 2005 and analyzed for 53 constituents, including trace elements.
Results of the soil, ground-water, and plant data indicate that the areas of trace element and semivolatile organic compound contamination are located in the shallow (A-horizon) soils near the threading barn. Most of the trace-element concentrations in the soils on the study site were either similar to or less than trace-element concentrations in background soils. Several trace elements and semivolatile organic compounds exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 6, Human Health Medium-Specific Screening Levels 2007 for Tap Water, Residential Soils, Industrial Indoor Soils, and Industrial Outdoor Soils.
There was little or no correlation between the plant and soil sample concentrations and the plant and ground-water concentrations based on the current sample size and study design. The lack of correlation between trace-element concentrations in plants and soils, and plants and ground water indicate that plant sampling was not useful as a preliminary tool to assess contamination at the study site.