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Demonstration of Enhanced Bioremediation in a TCE Source Area at Launch Complex 34, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station



The ability of bioremediation to treat a source area containing trichloroethene (TCE) present as dense nonaqueous phase liquid (DNAPL) was assessed through a laboratory study and a pilot test at Launch Complex 34, Cape Canaveral Air Force Center. The results of microcosm testing indicate that the indigenous microbial community was capable of dechlorinating TCE to ethene if amended with electron donor; however, bioaugmentation with a dechlorinating culture (KB-1; SiREM, Guelph, Ontario, Canada) significantly increased the rate of ethene formation. In microcosms, the activity of the dechlorinating organisms in KB-1 was not inhibited at initial TCE concentrations as high as 2 mM. The initially high TCE concentration in ground water (1.2 mM or 155 mg/L) did not inhibit reductive dechlorination, and at the end of the study, the average concentration of ethene (2.4 mM or 67 mg/L) was in stoichiometric excess of this initial TCE concentration. The production of ethene in stoichiometric excess in comparison to the initial TCE concentration indicates that the bioremediation treatment enhanced the removal of TCE mass (either sorbed to soil or present as DNAPL). Detailed soil sampling indicated that the bioremediation treatment removed greater than 98.5% of the initial TCE mass. Confirmatory ground water samples collected 22 months after the bioremediation treatment indicated that chloroethene concentrations had continued to decline in the absence of further electron donor addition. The results of this study confirm that dechlorination to ethene can proceed at the high TCE concentrations often encountered in source areas and that bioremediation was capable of removing significant TCE mass from the test plot, suggesting that enhanced bioremediation is a potentially viable remediation technology for TCE source areas. Dehalococcoides abundance increased by 2 orders of magnitude following biostimulation and bioaugmentation.