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Effect of Dissolved Oxygen Manipulation on Diffusive Emissions from NAPL-Impacted Low Permeability Soil Layers

Clifton, Lisa M., Dahlen, Paul R., Johnson, Paul C.
Environmental Science & Technology 2014 v.48 no.9 pp. 5127-5135
aquifers, benzene, dissolved oxygen, emissions, granite, groundwater, monitoring, nonaqueous phase liquids, permeability, sand, soil, stainless steel, tanks
Aquifer physical model experiments were performed to investigate if diffusive emissions from nonaqueous phase liquid (NAPL)-impacted low-permeability layers into groundwater moving through adjacent NAPL-free high-permeability layers can be reduced by creating an aerobic biotreatment zone at the interface between the two, and if over time that leads to reduced emissions after treatment ceases. Experiments were performed in two 1.2-m long × 1.2-m high × 5.4 cm wide stainless steel tanks; each with a high-permeability sand layer overlying a low-permeability crushed granite layer containing a NAPL mixture of indane and benzene. Each tank was water-saturated with horizontal flow primarily through the sand layer. The influent water was initially deoxygenated and the emissions and concentration distributions were allowed to reach near-steady conditions. The influent dissolved oxygen (DO) level was increased stepwise to 6.5–8.5 mg/L and 17–20 mg/L, and then decreased back to deoxygenated conditions. Each condition was maintained for at least 45 days. Relative to the near-steady benzene emission at the initial deoxygenated condition, the emission was reduced by about 70% when the DO was 6.5–8.5 mg/L, 90% when the DO was 17–20 mg/L, and ultimately 60% when returning to low DO conditions. While the reductions were substantial during treatment, longer-term reductions after 120 d of elevated DO treatment, relative to an untreated condition predicted by theory, were low: 29% and 6% in Tank 1 and Tank 2, respectively. Results show a 1–2 month lag between the end of DO delivery and rebound to the final near-steady emissions level. This observation has implications for post-treatment performance monitoring sampling at field sites.