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Perchlorate (ClO4 ) was placed on the EPA's contaminant candidate list in 1998 and a number of states including Arizona, California, Nevada, and Texas have drinking water action levels for perchlorate of 14, 4, 22, and 18 micrograms per liter (µg/L) respectively. Currently, the most effective treatment methods for ClO4 involve anaerobic biodegradation by perchlorate-respiring microorganisms. Many bacteria can couple growth with the complete reduction of ClO4 to chloride (Coates et al, 2002). These microorganisms occur naturally in soil; however, their presence is site specific. In a proactive response to possible future regulation, laboratory tests were conducted to determine the applicability for an Alabama site with widespread ClO4 contamination.

Both soil and groundwater from the site were collected for bench-scale treatability tests using a variety of bioremediation technologies. Soil treatment technologies for enhancing the bioremediation of ClO4 included composting, dissolved-phase carbon for both solid and groundwater treatment technology (lactate and molasses), and gas-phase carbon delivery (ethyl acetate). Composting as a technology could be applied to excavated and/or near surface soils while the dissolved- and gas-phase carbon delivery would be applicable in situ under buildings or other areas that were sensitive to excavation. Two compost amendment combinations were evaluated for their potential to enhance ClO4 treatment. Over the eight-week study period both compost blends reduced ClO4 concentrations from approximately 10 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) to below the detection limit (0.01 mg/kg). Dissolved-phase carbon and gas-phase also resulted in the reduction of ClO4 from 10 to 0.01 mg/kg, although longer treatment periods were required to reach detection limits.

Groundwater treatment technologies for bioremediation of ClO4 included a constructed wetland system and fluidized bed reactors (conducted by Envirogen, Inc and not discussed in this paper). These technologies also resulted in the reduction of ClO4 concentration to detection limit and could be applied either in situ (wetlands) or coupled with existing treatment technologies. The results of these bench-scale tests indicate that a number of soil and groundwater bioremediation technologies are feasible for the treatment of ClO4 at the site.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2003

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