Hydrogeologic Analysis and Data Collection for the Oneida Tie Yard Site
Loftis, David R.
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During the 1950's and 1960's a railroad yard located in Oneida, Tennessee, was used as a creosote treatment facility for railroad ties. After the cross-ties were treated with creosote, the excess creosote was stored in an holding pond located about 100 feet north of Pine Creek (Fetterolf 1998). In 1990, during a creek modification project, creosote was discovered seeping through the banks of Pine Creek. The creosote had leached through the bottom of the pond and migrated towards the creek. In 1997, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation authorized a remedial strategy prepared by Geraghty & Miller, Inc (Fetterolf 1998). The strategy involved the use of phytoremediation and a previously installed interception trench system. The primary goals of the phytoremediation plan are to stimulate biodegradation and to decrease groundwater flow, thus minimizing the migration of the contaminant into Pine Creek. Poplar trees were selected for the phytoremediation plan and were planted in two sections. The objectives of this report involved analyzing the hydrogeology of the Oneida, Tennessee site and organizing the collected data for the purpose of evaluating the impact of the phytoremediation and interception trench systems on the aquifer. The water level data was used to evaluate water level and hydraulic gradient changes due to evapotranspiration, rainfall, and groundwater extraction. It was obvious from the water level and rainfall comparison plots that the rainfall has a measurable effect on the water table elevation (i.e. groundwater flow). Some areas may be less affected because the coal layer has a tendency to decrease recharge. Meanwhile, the interception trench lowers the water level around the trench. The decrease in head occurs before and after the trench, thus the water level forms a "v-shape" at the trench. This "v-shape" lends to the notion that the hydraulic gradient also slopes towards the trench in both directions. As for the phytoremediation, there was not sufficient evidence to suggest that the water levels were being lowered by evapotranspiration. This was expected since the poplar trees were had only completed their second growing season. GMS MODFLOW was used to predict the effects on the water table due to the phytoremediation and the interception trench systems. The calibrated model did an adequate job in simulating the site when the interception trench was not in operation and the trees were not in their growing season. By using variable recharge in some areas, the results are expected to improve. For example, it is important to know the location of the coal layer so this area can be given a lower recharge value than the other areas in the model. As for the trench model, the simulated heads were much lower than the observed heads, which emphasizes that using wells is not the best method to simulate the interception trench. In the future, a transient model should be used to simulate the site with the trench operation, and the drain package could be used to model the trench itself. Meanwhile, the ET model was a valuable simulation, because it illustrates how effective the poplar trees can be even under conservative conditions. With an assumed root zone of just 3 feet and a maximum potential evapotranspiration rate of 4.6 gallons per day per tree, the majority of the site will experience the dry conditions expected.
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