USGS

Hydrogeology, Water Quality, and Potential for Transport of Organochlorine Pesticides in Ground Water at the North Hollywood Dump, Memphis, Tennessee

U.S. Geological Survey, Water-Resources Investigations Report 91-4022

by Robert E. Broshears and Michael W. Bradley

This report is available as a pdf below


Abstract

Geologic, hydrologic, and water-quality data indicate that ground-water contamination is confined to shallow horizons within the unconfined aquifer underlying the North Hollywood Dump in Memphis, Tennessee. The dump is a closed municipal-industrial landfill that has been ranked as Tennessee's potentially most dangerous hazardous-waste site. Toxic constituents of concern at the dump include residues from the manufacture of organochlorine pesticides. The dump overlies an unconfined aquifer of unconsolidated sands, silts, and clays. During average hydrologic conditions, ground waterflows beneath the dump at a mean velocity of approximately 3 feet per day and discharges to the Wolf River. Leachate from the dump mixes with underlying ground water, resulting in increased concentrations of dissolved solids and organic carbon downgradient from the dump. The mobility of chlordane, a representative organochlorine pesticide, is limited by its low solubility and its strong affinity for sand, silt, and clays of the aquifer. Degradation of chlordane may occur slowly, if at all, in the aquifer. Based on estimates of mean ground-water velocity and retardation of the pesticide due to sorption, mean travel times for chlordane migrating from the dump to the ground-water discharge zone are of the order of 50 to 500 years. Simulations of chlordane concentration resulting from the discharge of contaminated ground water and complete mixing in the Wolf River are sensitive to assumptions about chlordane persistence in the unconfined aquifer. If the half life of chlordane in the aquifer is assumed to be 30 years or less, the simulated concentration of chlordane in the Wolf River under average flow conditions is less than the most stringent water-quality criterion.

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