Contamination of groundwater by petroleum-hydrocarbons is a serious environmental problem. The Monitored Natural Attenuation (MNA) approach is a passive remediation to degrade and dissipate groundwater contaminants in situ. In this study, a full-scale natural bioremediation investigation was conducted at a gasoline spill site. Results show that concentrations of major contaminants (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes) dropped to below detection limit before they reached the downgradient monitor well located 280 m from the spill location. The results also reveal that natural biodegradation was the major cause of the observed contaminant reduction. The calculated natural first-order attenuation rates for BTEX and 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene (1,2,4-TMB) ranged from 0.051 (benzene) to 0.189 1/day (1,2,4-TMB). Evidence for the occurrence of natural attenuation includes the following: (1) depletion of dissolved oxygen, nitrate, and sulfate; (2) production of dissolved ferrous iron, sulfide, and CO2; (3) decreased BTEX concentrations and BTEX as carbon to TOC ratio along the transport path; (4) increased alkalinity and microbial populations; (5) limited spreading of the BTEX plume; and (6) preferential removal of certain BTEX components along the transport path. Additionally, the biodegradation capacity (44.73 mg/L) for BTEX and 1,2,4-TMB was much higher than other detected contaminants within the plume. Hence, natural attenuation can effectively contain the plume, and biodegradation processes played an important role in contaminant removal.
Application of monitored natural attenuation to remediate a petroleum-hydrocarbon spill site
C.M. Kao, W.Y. Huang, L.J. Chang, T.Y. Chen, H.Y. Chien, F. Hou; Application of monitored natural attenuation to remediate a petroleum-hydrocarbon spill site. Water Sci Technol 1 January 2006; 53 (2): 321–328. doi: https://doi.org/10.2166/wst.2006.066
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