Natural attenuation of petroleum hydrocarbons—a study of biodegradation effects in groundwater (Vitanovac, Serbia)
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The role of natural attenuation processes in groundwater contamination by petroleum hydrocarbons is of intense scientific and practical interest. This study provides insight into the biodegradation effects in groundwater at a site contaminated by kerosene (jet fuel) in 1993 (Vitanovac, Serbia). Total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH), hydrochemical indicators (O2, NO3−, Mn, Fe, SO42−, HCO3−), δ13C of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), and other parameters were measured to demonstrate biodegradation effects in groundwater at the contaminated site. Due to different biodegradation mechanisms, the zone of the lowest concentrations of electron acceptors and the zone of the highest concentrations of metabolic products of biodegradation overlap. Based on the analysis of redox-sensitive compounds in groundwater samples, redox processes ranged from strictly anoxic (methanogenesis) to oxic (oxygen reduction) within a short distance. The dependence of groundwater redox conditions on the distance from the source of contamination was observed. δ13C values of DIC ranged from − 15.83 to − 2.75‰, and the most positive values correspond to the zone under anaerobic and methanogenic conditions. Overall, results obtained provide clear evidence on the effects of natural attenuation processes—the activity of biodegradation mechanisms in field conditions.
KeywordsGroundwater Petroleum hydrocarbons Natural attenuation Biodegradation Stable isotopes
This study was supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia under Grant No. III 43004 and Grant No. OI 176018.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.
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