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Ground Water Transfer Initiates Complete Reductive Dechlorination in a PCE-Contaminated Aquifer

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Abstract

We conducted a field test to investigate whether ground water transfer from one site (showing complete natural reductive dechlorination of chlorinated ethenes to ethene) could induce full reductive dechlorination at another site polluted with tetrachloroethene and its partial dechlorination products trichloroethene and cis-dichloroethene (cDCE). Addition of electron donor (lactate) at the test site established low redox conditions but did not stimulate further dechlorination past cDCE. After transferring 2 m3 of ground water from the first site to the test site, full dechlorination commenced and high levels of ethene were measured to distances up to 6 m downstream of the injection location within 7 months. Ground water samples from monitoring wells were analyzed before and after inoculation of the test site for the presence of Dehalococcoides species (16S ribosomal RNA) and vinyl chloride reductase (vCRA) genes using the polymerase chain reaction. These tests showed that Dehalococcoides species were present both before and after ground water transfer, while vCRA genes were detected at the test site only after ground water transfer. The vCRA genes were detected in ground water samples collected 6 m downstream of the injection locations 7 months after ground water transfer, suggesting that the microorganisms carrying the dehalogenase genes were effectively transported in the aquifer.

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