Characterizing the Intrinsic Remediation of MTBE at Field Sites

EPA Grant Number: R828598C791
Subproject: this is subproject number 791 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R828598
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: Gulf Coast HSRC (Lamar)
Center Director: Ho, Tho C.
Title: Characterizing the Intrinsic Remediation of MTBE at Field Sites
Investigators: Rifai, Hanadi , Rixey, William G.
Institution: University of Houston - University Park
EPA Project Officer: Lasat, Mitch
Project Period: September 1, 2000 through August 31, 2004
RFA: Gulf Coast Hazardous Substance Research Center (Lamar University) (1996) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Hazardous Waste/Remediation , Targeted Research

Objective:

MTBE has emerged as a significant environmental concern due to several high visibility problems such as the contamination of the water supply sources for the City of Santa Monica in California. Water quality assessments by the USGS found MTBE in shallow groundwaters in many urban areas in the United States. The US EPA has issued an MTBE advisory recommending keeping MTBE concentrations at or below 20 - 40 ppb in drinking water. Because of its relatively high solubility, low sorption potential and possibly slow rates of biodegradation, MTBE presents a significant threat to ground water resources and may impact remediation decision making at many fuel sites. This research aims to understand the behavior of MTBE in soil and groundwater in laboratory studies and field assessments. The emphasis in this project is on characterizing source behavior and evaluating the biodegradation potential for MTBE at the field scale. These data combined with geochemical characterization of MTBE plumes and natural attenuation rates of MTBE at field sites would allow decision-makers to evaluate the efficacy of using natural attenuation as a remedy for MTBE sites.

The objectives of the project include:

1. Develop an improved understanding of the fate and transport of MTBE relative to BTEX based on previous MTBE data collection efforts;
2. Identify 2 - 4 Texas sites from the State MTBE database for field investigation;
3. Characterize the dissolution behavior of MTBE in residual source areas through laboratory experiments using field soils from the selected sites;
4. Evaluate the biodegradation potential for MTBE using field data;
5. Develop improved coupled source dissolution/ground water models validated by the experimental and field data;
6. Develop appropriate "attenuation rates" for MTBE at the field scale.

Approach:

The components of the research plan include:

• Analyze data from the Texas MTBE multi-site plume database with emphasis on age of facility, soil BTEX and MTBE data, time since release occurred for both BTEX and MTBE, and residual source contamination data;

• Select 2-4 sites from the MTBE site database with variable hydrogeologic conditions and contamination scenarios;

• Conduct field studies at the selected sites aimed at characterizing the geochemical conditions, MTBE and BTEX concentrations in source areas and in the groundwater, and the presence and absence of MTBE biodegradation intermediates. The field sites will additionally be used to acquire soil and ground water samples for the laboratory studies;

• Determine field based natural attenuation rates for MTBE and BTEX using the Texas database. Natural attenuation rates will be estimated for shrinking, stable, and exhausted plumes and will include point, plume and bulk attenuation rates.

• Conduct source release studies for MTBE and BTEX using soils from the selected sites. This component will focus on relating the soil concentrations to pore water concentrations in the source zone so that the source can be appropriately described in the ground water plume analysis. The source function is key to understanding the relative behavior of MTBE and BTEX and has been overlooked in past assessments;

• Model MTBE equilibrium dissolution/desorption using a multi-component model; and

• Integrate the MTBE source dissolution model into the BIOSCREEN and BIOPLUME Ill natural attenuation models for ground water.

Expected Results:

Results from the research will be published in peer reviewed journals, presented at scientific and technical conferences and accessible via the web.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this subproject: View all 6 publications for this subprojectView all 359 publications for this center

Supplemental Keywords:

groundwater, remediation, biodegradation, MTBE, hazardous waste, drinking water, contaminated sediment., RFA, Scientific Discipline, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, Waste, Water, Contaminated Sediments, Remediation, Health Risk Assessment, Hazardous Waste, Ecology and Ecosystems, Groundwater remediation, Hazardous, sediment treatment, advanced treatment technologies, in situ remediation, contaminant dynamics, in situ treatment, biodegradation, MTBE, contaminated sediment, contaminated soil, emissions, BTEX, natural attenuation, chemical contaminants, in-situ treatment of chlorinated solvents, environmental engineering, treatment, hazadous waste streams, contaminated groundwater, chlorinated VOCs, air emissions, contaminated aquifers, VOC remediation, bioremediation, groundwater, aquifer remediation

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2001 Progress Report
  • 2002
  • 2003
  • Final Report

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R828598    Gulf Coast HSRC (Lamar)

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
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