Previous investigations have shown that natural attenuation and biodegradation of chlorinated volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are substantial in shallow ground water beneath the 9-acre former landfill at Operable Unit 1 (OU-1), Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Division Keyport, Washington. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has continued to monitor ground-water geochemistry to assure that conditions remain favorable for contaminant biodegradation. This report presents the ground-water geochemical and selected VOC data collected at OU-1 by the USGS during June 21-24, 2005, in support of long-term monitoring for natural attenuation.
For June 2005, the strongly reducing conditions (sulfate reduction and methanogenesis) most favorable for reductive dechlorination of chlorinated VOCs were detected in fewer upper-aquifer wells than were detected during 2004. Redox conditions in ground water from the intermediate aquifer just downgradient of the landfill remained somewhat favorable for reductive dechlorination. Overall, the changes in redox conditions observed at individual wells have not been consistent or substantial throughout either the upper or the intermediate aquifers.
In apparent contrast to changes in redox conditions, the chlorinated VOC concentrations were lower than previously measured in many of the piezometers in the northern phytoremediation plantation. The decrease in contaminant concentrations beneath the northern plantation and the end-product (ethane and ethene) evidence for reductive dechlorination are consistent with 2000-04 results.
In the southern phytoremediation plantation, changes in chlorinated VOC concentrations were variable. Most notable was a substantial decrease in the sum of trichloroethene, cis-1,2-dichloroethene, and vinyl chloride concentrations at piezometer P1-9 from 75,000 to 1,000 micrograms per liter between 2004 and 2005. The high concentrations of the reductive dechlorination end-products ethane and ethene measured at the most contaminated sites (P1-6 and P1-7), as well as measurable concentrations at sites P1-9 and P1-10, are reliable evidence that reductive dechlorination of chlorinated VOCs is ongoing in the southern plantation.
In the 10 passive-diffusion samplers deployed beneath the marsh stream, the highest chlorinated VOC concentrations measured were at a site (S-4) about midway along the sampled stream reach. In 2005, the sum of trichloroethene, cis-1,2-dichloroethene, and vinyl chloride concentrations increased nearly twofold in comparison to 2004. It is not certain that the apparent increase in concentrations is representative of site conditions. However, the chlorinated VOC concentrations have increased each time at the two most contaminated passive-diffusion sampler sites that have been sampled for multiple years. In the marsh stream, chlorinated VOC concentrations in surface water were low at the site (SW-S6) near the upgradient margin of the former landfill. Concentrations in the stream increased substantially after flowing past the southern phytoremediation plantation to the downstream site (MA-12).
Overall, the 2005 data were consistent with previous findings of continued biodegradation of chlorinated VOCs in ground water, along with continued discharge of some chlorinated VOCs to surface water in the marsh stream.