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Determining the long-term operational performance of pump and treat and the possibility of closure for a large TCE plume

Guo, Zhilin, Brusseau, Mark L., Fogg, Graham E.
Journal of hazardous materials 2019 v.365 pp. 796-803
aquifers, mathematical models, maximum contaminant level, permeability, remediation, Arizona
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of heterogeneity on the long-term performance of a large pump-and-treat (PAT) system that has been in operation for 30 years at a site located in Tucson, AZ. A 3D numerical model was developed. Three different concentrations were examined: composite concentration in the influent to the treatment plant, resident concentration in the aquifer, and concentration for downgradient boundary discharge. The time scales needed for concentrations measured in these ways to reach the Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) are significantly different, with ∼125 years required for treatment-plant influent compared to ∼225 years for downgradient boundary discharge and >>227 years (total simulated time) for the resident concentration in the aquifer. These large time scales, compared to 36 years for a hypothetical homogeneous system, demonstrate the significant impacts of permeability heterogeneity on remediation at this site. The possibility of closure of the site was investigated by examining the mass discharge from the site boundary and the concentration rebound after simulating shutdown of the PAT system. The results of this study provide insight on evaluation of closure potential for large, complex contamination sites and a reference on selecting performance metrics for site management.