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Abstract

Active capping involves the use of capping materials that react with sediment contaminants to reduce their toxicity or bioavailability. Although several amendments have been proposed for use in active capping systems, little is known about their long-term ability to sequester metals. Recent research has shown that the active amendment apatite has potential application for metals-contaminated sediments. The focus of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of apatite in the sequestration of metal contaminants through the use of short-term laboratory column studies in conjunction with predictive, numerical modeling. A breakthrough column study was conducted using North Carolina apatite as the active amendment. Under saturated conditions, a spike solution containing elemental As, Cd, Co, Se, Pb, Zn, and a nonreactive tracer was injected into the column. A sand column was tested under similar conditions as a control. Effluent water samples were periodically collected from each column for chemical analysis. Relative to the nonreactive tracer, the breakthrough of each metal was substantially delayed by the apatite. Furthermore, breakthrough of each metal was substantially delayed by the apatite compared to the sand column. Finally, a simple 1-D, numerical model was created to qualitatively predict the long-term performance of apatite based on the findings from the column study. The results of the modeling showed that apatite could delay the breakthrough of some metals for hundreds of years under typical groundwater flow velocities. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.