QED Environmental Systems

DNAPL Characterization Methods and Approaches, Part 1: Performance Comparisons

Contamination from the use of chlorinated solvents, often classified as dense nonaqueous phase liquids (DNAPLs) when in an undissolved state, represents an environmental challenge with global implications. Mass-transfer limitations due to rate-limited dissolution can lead to long-term aquifer persistence for even small volumetric fractions. The identification of DNAPL source zones located beneath the water table is critical to ultimately achieve site remediation and aquifer restoration. This paper provides a comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of many of the methods being used for detecting and delineating DNAPL contaminant source zones. The objective is to determine which options are best to pursue based on site characteristics, method performance, and method costs. DNAPL characterization methods are grouped into approaches, which include site preparation, characterization, and data-processing activities necessary to design an effective remediation system. We compare the different approaches based on the level of chemical and hydrogeologic resolution, and the need for additional data requirements. Our findings can be used to assist with selection of appropriate site remediation management options.

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