The only natural freshwater resource of Kuwait occurs as lenses floating on the saline groundwater in the northern part of the country, near to the oil fields. Rainwater is the only means of recharge of this limited groundwater resource. This groundwater is used as bottled drinking water and the fresh groundwater aquifer is considered as a strategic drinking water reserve for Kuwait. As a result of the 1991 Gulf War, the upper soil layer has been widely contaminated with crude oil and crude oil combustion products, which are potential pollutants likely affecting the groundwater resources. Significant efforts have been made to assess this pollution. These included: (a) a soil survey for assessing the soil contamination, and (b) leaching experiments to characterise the mobilization of the soil-associated pollutants. Fluorescence measurement techniques were used during field surveys as well as for laboratory testing. In addition, determination of the total extractable matter (TEM), total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH), and GC/MS measurement of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were performed for the assessments. The laser induced fluorescence (LIF) measurement, having good correlation with the other laboratory measurements, was proved to provide necessary information for the assessment of the oil-contamination level in the desert soil. The subsequent leaching test with water demonstrated the mobilization of the fluorescing compounds (e.g. PAHs), and the alteration in the leaching characteristics of the contamination during the long-term environmental weathering of the oil.

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