, Volume 168, Issue 1-4, pp 359-389

Part 2: A Field Study of Enhanced Remediation of Toluene in the Vadose Zone Using a Nutrient Solution

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Abstract

The objective of this study was to test the effectiveness of a nitrate-rich nutrient solution and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) to enhance in-situ microbial remediation of toluene in the unsaturated zone. Three sand-filled plots were tested in three phases (each phase lasting approximately 2 weeks). During the control phase, toluene was applied uniformly via sprinkler irrigation. Passive remediation was allowed to occur during this phase. A modified Hoagland nutrient solution, concentrated in 150 L of water, was tested during the second phase. The final phase involved addition of 230 moles of H2O2 in 150 L of water to increase the available oxygen needed for aerobic biodegradation.

During the first phase, measured toluene concentrations in soil gas were reduced from 120 ppm to 25 ppm in 14 days. After the addition of nutrients during the second phase, concentrations were reduced from 90 ppm to about 8 ppm within 14 days, and for the third phase (H2O2), toluene concentrations were about 1 ppm after only 5 days. Initial results suggest that this method could be an effective means of remediating a contaminated site, directly after a BTEX spill, without the intrusiveness and high cost of other abatement technologies such as bioventing or soil-vapor extraction. However, further tests need to be completed to determine the effect of each of the BTEX components.

The use of firm, trade, or brand names in this paper is for identification purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by the U.S. Geological Survey.