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Rapid Cleanup of Chlorinated Solvent Source Zones: Synergies Between Chemical and Biological Degradation



A chlorinated volatile organic compound (cVOC) source area approximately 25 by 100 ft in a heavily industrialized urban area was characterized with groundwater tetrachloroethene (PCE) concentrations up to 9,180 μg/L. This is approximately 6 percent of PCE's aqueous solubility, indicative of the presence of residual dense, nonaqueous phase liquid. The resulting dissolved-phase plume migrated off-site. Biotic and abiotic dechlorination using a combination of a food-grade organic carbon-based electron donor and zero-valent iron suspended in a food-grade emulsifying agent reduced the source area PCE concentrations by 98 percent within 27 weeks, with minimal downgradient migration of daughter products dichloroethene and vinyl chloride. Combining biological dechlorination with iron-based chemical dechlorination is synergistic, enhancing treatment aggressiveness, balancing pH, and optimizing degradation of both DNAPL and dissolved-phase cVOCs. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.