Evaluation of 1,4-dioxane attenuation processes at the Gelman Site, Michigan, USA

Leah E. Jackson, Wendy M. Robertson, Megan Rohrssen, Anthony Chappaz, Lawrence D. Lemke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

1,4-Dioxane released at the Gelman Site in Washtenaw County, Michigan, produced a series of contaminant plumes migrating up to 3 km through a heterogenous glacial aquifer system. An analysis of 1,4-dioxane concentrations in the Eastern Area of the Gelman Site between 2011 and 2017 documented a mass balance deficit of 2200 kg in excess of 2100 kg of 1,4-dioxane removed via remediation. Five mechanisms were evaluated to account for the mass deficiency: sorption, matrix diffusion, biodegradation, surface discharge, and bypass of the existing monitoring well network. The mass of 1,4-dioxane sorbed to aquifer and aquitard materials and the mass of 1,4-dioxane diffused into low permeability zones were estimated. However, decreasing aqueous concentrations across most of the contaminated area between 2011 and 2017 are expected to induce desorption and back diffusion during this period. Surface water discharge to a storm drain in the downgradient portion of the site was analyzed using concentration measurements and stream gage data. Results suggest that 1,4-dioxane mass entering the drain during the period between 2011 and 2017 was insufficient to account for the mass deficiency. Although available geochemical measurements indicate predominantly anaerobic aquifer conditions at the Gelman Site, biodegradation of 1,4-dioxane was estimated using first order decay rate constants from other sites where conditions may be more favorable. Results suggest that biodegradation could explain some but not all of the missing mass. Bypass of the downgradient monitoring well network is the most parsimonious explanation for the 1,4-dioxane mass deficit. This conclusion is supported by documented flow path complexity through the aquifer system and the sparse density of monitoring wells in the downgradient Eastern Area. These findings underscore the importance of characterizing aquifer heterogeneity when modeling and remediating persistent groundwater contaminants such as 1,4-dioxane.

Original languageEnglish
Article number153634
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume823
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022

Keywords

  • Biodegradation
  • Matrix diffusion
  • Natural attenuation
  • Preferential flow paths
  • Sorption
  • Surface discharge

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