A pilot-scale subsurface vertical-flow wetland system was constructed at the former BP Refinery in Casper, Wyoming in order to determine benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene (BTEX) degradation rates in a cold-climate application. The pilot system, consisting of 4 cells, each dosed at a nominal flow rate of 5.4 cubic metres per day, was operated between August and December 2002. The pilot tested the effects of wetland mulch and aeration on system performance. Areal rate constants (kA values) were calculated based on an assumed three tanks in series (3TIS). The presence of wetland sod and aeration both improved treatment performance. Mean kA values were 244 m/yr for cells without sod or aeration, and improved to 356 m/yr for cells with sod and aeration. Based on the results of the pilot system, a full-scale wetland system (capable of operating at 6,000 m3/day) was started up in May 2003. The full-scale system achieved permit compliance within one week of startup, but is currently being loaded at only 45% of the design hydraulic load, and 15% of the design BTEX mass load, resulting in a mean kA value of ∼350 m/yr.

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