Environmental Geology

, Volume 50, Issue 3, pp 361–369 | Cite as

Clamshell excavation of a permeable reactive barrier

  • Antonio Di Molfetta
  • Rajandrea Sethi
Original Article


Nowadays, permeable reactive barriers (PRB) are one of the most widespread techniques for the remediation of contaminated aquifers. Over the past 10 years, the use of iron-based PRBs has evolved from innovative to accepted standard practice for the treatment of a variety of groundwater contaminants (ITRC in: Permeable reactive barriers: lessons learned/new directions. The Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council, Permeable Reactive Barriers Team 2005). Although, a variety of excavation methods have been developed, backhoe excavators are often used for the construction of PRBs. The aim of this study is to describe the emplacement of a full-scale PRB and the benefits deriving from the use of a crawler crane equipped with a hydraulic grab (also known as clamshell excavator) in the excavation phases. The studied PRB was designed to remediate a chlorinated hydrocarbons plume at an old industrial landfill site, in Avigliana, near the city of Torino, in Italy. The continuous reactive barrier was designed to be 120 m long, 13 m deep, and 0.6 m thick. The installation of the barrier was accomplished using a clamshell for the excavation of the trench and a guar-gum slurry to support the walls. The performance of this technique was outstanding and allowed the installation of the PRB in 7 days. The degree of precision of the excavation was very high because of the intrinsic characteristics of this excavation tool and of the use of a concrete curb to guide the hydraulic grab. Moreover, the adopted technique permitted a saving of bioslurry thus minimizing the amount of biocide required.


Permeable reactive barrier (PRB) Clamshell Zerovalent iron (ZVI) Biopolymer slurry Guar gum 



The authors would like to acknowledge Stephanie O’Hannesin, Andrzej Przepiora, Jennifer Son from E.T.I., Hermann Schad from I.M.E.S., and Steve Day from Geosolutions Inc. who provided technical guidance during the different phases of the project; Lorenzo Buonomo and Studio Buonomo Veglia who participated, with Studio Bortolami e Di Molfetta, in the design of the remediation project; Stefano Marconetto, Chiara Ariotti, Raffaella Granata and all the staff who worked hard during the installation of the PRB.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DITAG—Dipartimento di Ingegneria del Territorio dell’Ambiente e delle GeotecnologiePolytechnic University of TorinoTorinoItaly

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