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Scientific Investigations Report 2011–5148

Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
Region 4, Superfund Division, Superfund Remedial Branch, Section C

Investigation of the Potential Source Area, Contamination Pathway, and Probable Release History of Chlorinated-Solvent-Contaminated Groundwater at the Capital City Plume Site, Montgomery, Alabama, 2008–2010

By James E. Landmeyer, Scott Miller, Bruce G. Campbell, Don A. Vroblesky, Amy C. Gill, and Athena P. Clark

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ABSTRACT

Detection of the organic solvent perchloroethylene (PCE) in a shallow public-supply well in 1991 and exposure of workers in 1993 to solvent vapors during excavation activities to depths near the water table provided evidence that the shallow aquifer beneath the capital city of Montgomery, Alabama, was contaminated. Investigations conducted from 1993 to 1999 by State and Federal agencies confirmed the detection of PCE in the shallow aquifer, as well as the detection of the organic solvent trichloroethylene (TCE) and various inorganic compounds, but the source of the groundwater contamination was not determined. In May 2000 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed that the site, called the Capital City Plume (CCP) Site, be a candidate for the National Priorities List. Between 2000 and 2007, numerous site-investigation activities also did not determine the source of the groundwater contamination.

In 2008, additional assessments were conducted at the CCP Site to investigate the potential source area, contamination pathway, and the probable release history of the chlorinated-solvent-contaminated groundwater. The assessments included the collection of (1) pore water in 2008 from the hyporheic zone of a creek using passive-diffusion bag samplers; (2) tissue samples in 2008 and 2009 from trees growing in areas of downtown Montgomery characterized by groundwater contamination and from trees growing in riparian zones along the Alabama River and Cypress Creek; and (3) groundwater samples in 2009 and 2010. The data collected were used to investigate the potential source area of contaminants detected in groundwater, the pathway of groundwater contamination, and constraints on the probable contaminant-release history.

The data collected between 2008 and 2010 indicate that the PCE and TCE contamination of the shallow aquifer beneath the CCP Site most likely resulted from the past use and disposal of industrial wastewater from printing operations containing chlorinated solvents into the sanitary sewer and (or) stormwater systems of Montgomery. Moreover, chlorinated-solvent use and disposal occurred at least between the 1940s and 1970s at several locations occupied by printing operations. The data also indicate that PCE and TCE contamination continues to occur in the shallow subsurface near potential release areas and that PCE and TCE have been transported to the intermediate part of the shallow aquifer.

Revised February 15, 2012

First posted September 9, 2011

For additional information contact:
Director
USGS South Carolina Water Science Center
Stephenson Center, Suite 129
720 Gracern Road
Columbia, SC 29210–7651
phone: 803–750–6100 http://sc.water.usgs.gov/

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Suggested citation:

Landmeyer, J.E., Miller, S., Campbell, B.G., Vroblesky, D.A., Gill, A.C., and Clark, A.P., 2011, Investigation of the potential source area, contamination pathway, and probable release history of chlorinated-solvent-contaminated groundwater at the Capital City Plume Site, Montgomery, Alabama, 2008–2010: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2011–5148, 53 p.



Contents

Abstract

Introduction

Purpose and Scope

Description of Study Area

Previous Investigations

Methods of Investigation

Investigation of the Potential Source Area and Contamination Pathway

Investigation of the Probable Release History

Investigation of the Potential Source Area and Contamination Pathway

Tree-Core Survey

Groundwater Sampling and Analysis

Investigation of the Probable Release History

Sulfur Hexafluoride and Chlorofluorocarbon Concentrations and Estimated Recharge Dates

Dendrochemistry

Relation of Commercial Printing and Chlorinated Solvents in Contaminated Groundwater at the Capital City Plume Site

Volatile Organic Compounds

Inorganic Compounds

Commercial Printing in Montgomery

Conclusions

Summary

References


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