Characterization of a Creosote-Contaminated Tie Yard Site and the Effects of Phytoremediation
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Soil and ground water samples were collected and analyzed for 6 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), acenaphthene, fluorene, phenanthrene, fluoranthene, pyrene and chrysene. Site characterization revealed multiple creosote sources. Areal subsurface bedrock DNAPL distribution, approximately 6500 ft2, was much greater than previously reported. Total PAHs (Sum of 6 PAHs) in the soil and ground water ranged from below detection limits (BDL) to 8,276 mg/kg and BDL to 1.58 mg/L, respectively. Aqueous phase PAHs should be available for hybrid poplar tree and microbial uptake. Dissolution and diffusion of PAH constituents from the free product phase to the aqueous and soil phases contaminated both matrices. PAH cosolvency effects were also evident. The presence of more soluble PAHs in the aqueous phase enhanced the solubility of two hydrophobic PAHs, chrysene and benzo(b)fluoranthene.
Phytoremediation effects of fescue, rye, and clover grasses were assessed in creosote-contaminated surface soils. Over the 9 month period, clover grass growth was very poor. Clover data was not used in comparative analyses. Rye and fescue grasses exhibited acceptable growth. In planted and control (unplanted-amended) plots, acenaphthene, fluorene, phenanthrene, fluoranthene, and pyrene soil concentrations were reduced 72, 50, 73, 55 and 49 percent, respectively. Chrysene reduction was not statistically significant. During the first 4 months of the study, dry site conditions limited grass growth and subsurface biological activity. The site received approximately 16 inches of precipitation during the last 3 months of the study, including multiple, intense precipitation events. The subsurface was saturated for prolonged periods of time and oxygen transfer to indigenous microorganisms was likely limited. The root structures of fescue and rye grasses were neither dense nor complex enough to promote phytoremediation effects. PAH reductions were generally greater for constituents with higher aqueous solubilities. It is thought that PAH losses were primarily due to solubilization and/or microbial uptake.
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