Landfill-stimulated iron reduction and arsenic release at the Coakley Superfund Site (NH)

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  • Jamie L. DeLemos
  • Benjamin C. Bostick
  • Carl E. Renshaw
  • Stürup, Stefan
  • Xiahong Feng

Arsenic is a contaminant at more than one-third of all Superfund Sites in the United States. Frequently this contamination appears to result from geochemical processes rather than the presence of a well-defined arsenic source. Here we examine the geochemical processes that regulate arsenic levels at the Coakley Landfill Superfund Site (NH), a site contaminated with As, Cr, Pb, Ni, Zn, and aromatic hydrocarbons. Long-term field observations indicate that the concentrations of most of these contaminants have diminished as a result of treatment by monitored natural attenuation begun in 1998; however, dissolved arsenic levels increased modestly over the same interval. We attribute this increase to the reductive release of arsenic associated with poorly crystalline iron hydroxides within a glaciomarine clay layer within the overburden underlying the former landfill. Anaerobic batch incubations that stimulated iron reduction in the glaciomarine clay released appreciable dissolved arsenic and iron. Field observations also suggest that iron reduction associated with biodegradation of organic waste are partly responsible for arsenic release; over the five-year study period since a cap was emplaced to prevent water flow through the site, decreases in groundwater dissolved benzene concentrations at the landfill are correlated with increases in dissolved arsenic concentrations, consistent with the microbial decomposition of both benzene and other organics, and reduction of arsenic-bearing iron oxides. Treatment of contaminated groundwater increasingly is based on stimulating natural biogeochemical processes to degrade the contaminants. These results indicate that reducing environments created within organic contaminant plumes may release arsenic. In fact, the strong correlation (>80%) between elevated arsenic levels and organic contamination in groundwater systems at Superfund Sites across the United States suggests that arsenic contamination caused by natural degradation of organic contaminants may be widespread.

TidsskriftEnvironmental Science and Technology
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)67-73
Antal sider7
StatusUdgivet - 1 jan. 2006

ID: 199497279