U.S. EPA Contaminated Site Cleanup Information (CLU-IN)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. EPA Technology Innovation and Field Services Division

Phytotechnology Project Profiles

Phytoremediation at 317/319 Area, Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois
Last Updated: Fall 2004
Site Information                                                      
Site Name, Location:   Argonne National Laboratory, Lemont, IL, United States
Site Type:   Federal Facility
Is this a Federal
Superfund Site?
ROD Date, if applicable:   09/29/1998
Is this a Federal or
Military Site?
Entity Responsible for Cleanup:   DOE

Project Information                                                      
Project Name:   Phytoremediation at 317/319 Area, Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois
Site History and Background:   The 317/319 Area at Argonne National Laboratory contains several sites used in the past to dispose of solid and liquid waste from various laboratory activities. Because of these past activities, VOCs and tritium have been released in the groundwater at depths of approximately 6-9 m and have been detected in groundwater offsite.
Scale:   Full
Project Status:   Ongoing
Project Start Date:   1999
Media Treated:  
Media Qty. Geology Comments
Soil Geology at the site consists of 10 feet silty clay at the top, followed by 2 foot shallow aquifer, 8 foot silty clay, 10 foot silt and finally silty clay deep aquifer at the bottom.
Ground Water Groundwater at 25 to 30 feet below ground surface; aquifer 5 feet
Contaminants Treated:  
Contaminant Initial
Depth Media Comments
Arsenic Soil
Arsenic Ground Water
Carbon tetrachloride Soil
Carbon tetrachloride Ground Water
Chloroform Soil
Chloroform Ground Water
Lead Soil
Lead Ground Water
Tetrachloroethene Soil
Tetrachloroethene Ground Water
Trichloroethene Soil
Trichloroethene Ground Water
Zinc Soil
Zinc Ground Water
Tritium Soil
Tritium Ground Water
Phytotechnology Mechanism(s):   Phytoremediation
Hydraulic Control
Plants and other Vegetation Used:   Hybrid Poplar
Eastern Gamagrass
Golden Weeping Willow
Hybrid Prairie Cascade Willow
Laurel-Leaved Willow
Planting Description:   800 whips planted. 420 poplars installed in deep, lined boreholes (TreeWells). 389 willows and poplars planted at or near surface. Used patented TreeWells and TreeMediation (Applied Natural Sciences Inc.) In 1999 Argonne installed a series of engineered plantings consisting of a vegetative cover system and approximately 800 hybrid poplars and willows rooting at various predetermined depths. Because of the peculiar stratigraphy at this site and the depth of the target contamination, the plants were installed using various methods including Applied Natural Sciences’ TreeWell® system.
Planting Area:   4 acres
O & M Requirements:   Fertilization, replanting, and significant Health/Safety expenditures because of radiological and other concerns
Performance Data:   Qualitatively results are good. Hydraulic control is apparent and VOCs have been detected in the plant tissue indicating uptake. But no quantitative results are available. From these data it is apparent that the trees have begun to influence the area. Only months after planting, both TCE and PCE were detected in branch tissue of trees growing in the source area soil. Correspondingly, trichloroacetic acid, a degradation intermediate, was consistently detected in leaves of these same plants. Two years after planting, TCE and PCE began to be detected also in tissue of several trees targeting the downgradient contaminant plume, and the number of detections has continued to increase with time. By the fall of 2002, several trees showed significantly higher tritium concentrations that approached the concentration of the groundwater in the area. Soil sample evidence shows that roots had developed at to at least 4 m by the fall of 2001.
Cost of the Phytotechnology Project:   $1,200,000
Lessons Learned:   Tree Wells installed in effort to achieve hydraulic control. During a warm period in September 2000, the plantation began exhibiting diurnal fluctuations (up to 7 cm) in groundwater elevation at selected monitoring wells. The diurnal fluctuations continued during the 2001 growing season and varied in amplitude with the amount of daily solar radiation. In 2001 water levels of some wells gradually lowered during days of high sunlight resulting in strong diurnal fluctuations. On cloudy days water level changes were less pronounced. These water level changes were an early indicator that the maturing trees will exert an increasing effect on the site’s hydrology, which will ultimately result in hydraulic containment of the contaminant.
Comments:   This progression was expected as a consequence of the time necessary for the roots to develop to the capillary fringe. Results of this modeling suggest that despite leaf-off winter periods, the plantation will provide full containment on the larger western (317 Area) side of the plantation, and a strong degree of containment on the eastern (319 Area) side.

Point(s) of Contact                                                                      
    Cristina Negri
Argonne National Laboratory
Lemont, IL United States
Telephone: (603) 252-9662

Edward Gatliff
Applied Natural Sciences, Inc.
Hamilton, OH United States
Telephone: (513) 895-6061

Information Source(s):   Negri, M.C. et al 2003. Root Development and Rooting at Depths, in S.C.

McCutcheon and J.L Schnoor, eds., Phytoremediation: Transformation and Control of Contaminants: Hoboken, NJ, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p, 233-262, 912-913

Quinn, J.J., et al 200 Predicting the Effect of Deep-Rooted Hybrid Poplars on the Groundwater Flow System at a Phytoremediation Site: International Journal of Phytoremediation, vol. 3, no. 1, p. 41-60.

Phytoremediation at Argonne

Project update provided to Ellen Rubin by Cristina Negri. October 2004

Negri, M. Cristina; John Quinn; Casey Hamilton; Edward G. Gatliff. 2003. Phytoremediation for Plume Control of Deep Groundwater. From International Applied Phytotechnologies Conference, March 3-5.

EPA. 2005. Use of Field-Scale Phytotechnology for Chlorinated Solvents, Metals, Explosives and Propellants, and Pesticides. EPA 542-R-05-002.

Associated Vendor(s) or Consultant(s):   Applied Natural Sciences


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