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Abstract

Bioremediation of 1,1,1-trichloroethane (TCA) is more challenging than bioremediation of other chlorinated solvents, such as tetrachloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE). TCA transformation often occurs under methanogenic and sulfate-reducing conditions and is mediated by Dehalobacter. The source area at the project site contains moderately permeable medium sand with a low hydraulic gradient and is approximately 0.5 acre. TCA contamination generally extended to 35 feet, with the highest concentrations at approximately 20 feet. The concentrations then decreased with depth; several wells contained 300 to 600 mg/L of TCA prior to bioremediation. The area of treatment also contained 2 to 30 mg/L of TCE from an upgradient source. Initial site groundwater conditions indicated minimal biotic dechlorination and the presence of up to 20 mg/L of nitrate and 90 mg/L of sulfate. Microcosm testing indicated that TCA dechlorination was inhibited by the site's relatively low pH (5 to 5.5) and high TCA concentration. After the pH was adjusted and TCA concentrations were reduced to less than 35 mg/L (by dilution with site water), dechlorination proceeded rapidly using whey (or slower with sodium lactate) as an electron donor. Throughout the remediation program, increased resistance to TCA inhibition (from 35 to 200 mg/L) was observed as the microbes adapted to the elevated TCA concentrations. The article presents the results of a full-scale enhanced anaerobic dechlorination recirculation system and the successful efforts to eliminate TCA- and pH-related inhibition. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.