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

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U.S. EPA Technology Innovation and Field Services Division

Search Result from the May 2011 Issue

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Harth, R. University of Arizona Biodesign Institute News Release, Mar 2011

Under a new 3-year, $1.15 million grant from DoD, Rolf Halden, assistant director at Arizona State University's Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology, is pursuing a novel method to conduct groundwater sampling and monitoring. His team's efforts are part of a quest to provide more accurate results at lower cost and produce fewer by-products during the sampling process. Conventional monitoring typically accounts for at least 20% of total cleanup costs incurred during site remediation. To minimize the waste-handling and associated costs associated with conventional sampling, Halden's sampling technique involves acquiring groundwater as it remains in place in the subsurface using a device known as the in situ sampler, or IS2. Custom fitted to the groundwater monitoring well, the IS2 is deployed downhole, where its integrated pumps draw up ambient groundwater at milliliter-per-day rates. Analytes of interest are concentrated onto solid adsorption media for analysis. One of the advantages of the in situ approach is that effluent from the device remains in the subsurface. Only the device itself with the extracted analytes is removed from the well. In this way, monitoring can be conducted without the use of purge water or the liberation of wastewater at the surface. Once the device has been removed from the well, the contaminant-charged media are shipped to the laboratory, where they undergo automated analysis assisted by robotics, as well as standard methods including mass spectrometry and ion chromatography. The new technology boasts extremely low detection limits--in the ng/L to pg/L range. Further, it produces no wastewater and can be carried out at a low cost per sample, thanks to the use of automation. The IS2 sentinel will be applied on a pilot basis at DoD sites and used in multiple deployments to examine a range of groundwater contaminants, such as VOCs (PCE and TCE), water-soluble fuel components (benzene and toluene), explosives constituents (RDX and TNT), semivolatiles (phenol), PAHs (naphthalene and phenanthrene), inorganics (perchlorate), and heavy metals (arsenic and lead). Each of these analytes will be captured in situ, using a pair of customized IS2 devices. Results will be compared to those obtained with conventional water monitoring approaches. The project seeks to demonstrate improved detection limits 10 to 100 times lower than those achieved through current EPA methods. The accuracy, reproducibility, and precision of results could also exceed EPA methods, providing detailed analyses of a broad spectrum of compounds at considerably lower costs. While initial efforts focus on monitoring at DoD hazardous waste sites, the technology ultimately should find broad applicability for groundwater oversight. the-waste

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