GROUND WATER & SOIL CLEANUP

IMPROVING MANAGEMENT OF PERSISTENT CONTAMINANTS

Committee on Technologies for Cleanup of Subsurface Contaminants in the DOE Weapons Complex

Board on Radioactive Waste Management

Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
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Ground Water & Soil Cleanup: Improving Management of Persistent Contaminants GROUND WATER & SOIL CLEANUP IMPROVING MANAGEMENT OF PERSISTENT CONTAMINANTS Committee on Technologies for Cleanup of Subsurface Contaminants in the DOE Weapons Complex Board on Radioactive Waste Management Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C.

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Ground Water & Soil Cleanup: Improving Management of Persistent Contaminants NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20418 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This work was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, Contract No. DE-FC01-94EW54069. All opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Energy. International Standard Book Number 0-309-06549-6 Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 99-65127 Additional copies of this report are available from: National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Ave., NW Box 285 Washington, DC 20055 800-624-6242 202-334-3313 (in the Washington Metropolitan Area) http://www.nap.edu Copyright 1999 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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Ground Water & Soil Cleanup: Improving Management of Persistent Contaminants COMMITTEE ON TECHNOLOGIES FOR CLEANUP OF SUBSURFACE CONTAMINANTS IN THE DOE WEAPONS COMPLEX C. HERB WARD, Chair, Rice University, Houston, Texas HERBERT E. ALLEN, University of Delaware, Newark RICHARD BELSEY, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Portland, Oregon KIRK W. BROWN, Texas A&M University, College Station RANDALL J. CHARBENEAU, University of Texas, Austin RICHARD A. CONWAY, Union Carbide Corporation (retired), South Charleston, West Virginia HELEN E. DAWSON, Colorado School of Mines, Golden JOHN C. FOUNTAIN, State University of New York, Buffalo RICHARD L. JOHNSON, Oregon Graduate Institute of Science and Technology, Portland ROBERT D. NORRIS, Eckenfelder, Brown and Caldwell, Nashville, Tennessee FREDERICK G. POHLAND, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania KARL K. TUREKIAN, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut JOHN C. WESTALL, Oregon State University, Corvallis Staff JACQUELINE A. MACDONALD, Study Director SUSAN B. MOCKLER, Research Associate LATRICIA C. BAILEY, Project Assistant ERIKA L. WILLIAMS, Research Assistant

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Ground Water & Soil Cleanup: Improving Management of Persistent Contaminants BOARD ON RADIOACTIVE WASTE MANAGEMENT MICHAEL C. KAVANAUGH, Chair, Malcolm Pirnie, Inc., Oakland, California JOHN F. AHEARNE, Vice-Chair, Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, and Duke University, Research Triangle Park and Durham, North Carolina ROBERT J. BUDNITZ, Future Resources Associates, Inc., Berkeley, California ANDREW P. CAPUTO, Natural Resources Defense Council, Washington, D.C. MARY R. ENGLISH, University of Tennessee, Knoxville DARLEANE C. HOFFMAN, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Berkeley, California JAMES H. JOHNSON, JR., Howard University, Washington, D.C. ROGER E. KASPERSON, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts JAMES O. LECKIE, Stanford University, Stanford, California JANE C. S. LONG, University of Nevada, Reno CHARLES MCCOMBIE, NAGRA, Wettingen, Switzerland WILLIAM A. MILLS, Oak Ridge Associated Universities (retired), Olney, Maryland D. WARNER NORTH, North Works, Inc., Belmont, California MARTIN J. STEINDLER, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Illinois JOHN J. TAYLOR, Electric Power Research Institute, Palo Alto, California MARY LOU ZOBACK, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, California NRC Staff KEVIN D. CROWLEY, Director ROBERT S. ANDREWS, Senior Staff Officer THOMAS E. KIESS, Senior Staff Officer JOHN R. WILEY, Senior Staff Officer SUSAN B. MOCKLER, Research Associate TONI GREENLEAF, Administrative Associate MATTHEW BAXTER-PARROTT, Project Assistant LATRICIA C. BAILEY, Project Assistant PATRICIA A. JONES, Senior Project Assistant LAURA D. LLANOS, Project Assistant ANGELA R. TAYLOR, Senior Project Assistant

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Ground Water & Soil Cleanup: Improving Management of Persistent Contaminants COMMISSION ON GEOSCIENCES, ENVIRONMENT, AND RESOURCES GEORGE M. HORNBERGER, Chair, University of Virginia, Charlottesville RICHARD A. CONWAY, Union Carbide Corporation (retired), South Charleston, West Virginia THOMAS E. GRAEDEL, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut THOMAS J. GRAFF, Environmental Defense Fund, Oakland, California EUGENIA KALNAY, University of Oklahoma, Norman DEBRA KNOPMAN, Progressive Policy Institute, Washington, D.C. KAI N. LEE, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts RICHARD A. MESERVE, Covington & Burling, Washington, D.C. JOHN B. MOONEY, JR., J. Brad Mooney Associates, Ltd., Arlington, Virginia HUGH C. MORRIS, Canadian Global Change Program, Delta, British Columbia H. RONALD PULLIAM, University of Georgia, Athens MILTON RUSSELL, University of Tennessee, Knoxville THOMAS C. SCHELLING, University of Maryland, College Park ANDREW R. SOLOW, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts VICTORIA J. TSCHINKEL, Landers and Parsons, Tallahassee, Florida E-AN ZEN, University of Maryland, College Park MARY LOU ZOBACK, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, California NRC Staff ROBERT M. HAMILTON, Executive Director GREGORY H. SYMMES, Associate Executive Director CRAIG SCHIFFRIES, Associate Executive Director for Special Projects JEANETTE SPOON, Administrative and Financial Officer SANDI FITZPATRICK, Administrative Associate MARQUITA SMITH, Administrative Assistant/Technology Analyst

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Ground Water & Soil Cleanup: Improving Management of Persistent Contaminants The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government, and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.

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Ground Water & Soil Cleanup: Improving Management of Persistent Contaminants Preface Environmental legislation resulting in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976 and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, commonly known as Superfund) of 1980 led to the discovery of massive contamination of groundwater and soil at sites scattered across the United States. The original Superfund of $1.6 billion was based on an estimated average cost of $3.6 million per site for cleanup of 400 contaminated sites. However, Superfund was a new enterprise not based on past experience. By 1990, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated a total cleanup cost of $27 billion at an average cost of $26 million per site. As the nation continued to gain experience in hazardous waste remediation, EPA estimated that the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) could grow to more than 2,000 sites and that estimated costs could increase to the range of $100 billion to $500 billion. More recent estimates indicated that under scenarios requiring cleanup to stringent standards, costs could exceed $1 trillion when accounting for sites owned by the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of Energy (DOE), and state governments, in addition to privately owned sites. This brief history shows that estimation of total costs of cleaning up contaminated sites is highly uncertain, if not impossible. Most cost estimates to date have been based on the use of conventional and readily available remediation technologies. However, those involved with site remediation have gradually recognized that, regardless of cost, the technology does not exist to effectively manage the most recalcitrant contamination problems. These difficult problems include dense

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Ground Water & Soil Cleanup: Improving Management of Persistent Contaminants nonaqueous-phase liquids (DNAPLs), metals, and radionuclides in groundwater and soil. The National Research Council (NRC) addressed the complexities of groundwater remediation in its 1994 study Alternatives for Ground Water Cleanup, which identified the limitations of conventional remediation technologies and served to heighten focus on this problem. Today, 19 years after Congress responded to public concern about Love Canal by creating the CERCLA program, we are faced with a paradigm shift: a recognition that the most difficult contamination problems cannot be solved with conventional technology and that cleanup to health-based standards will not be possible at every site. Recognizing that inadequate technology is a critical limiting factor in meeting federal cleanup standards, during the past decade EPA, DOD, and DOE began programs to develop new and innovative environmental remediation technologies. Each agency focused on technology development to solve its most pressing problems, some of which were unique to the agency but many of which (including DNAPLs) were common across the contaminated landscape. Development of completely new, more effective, and less costly cleanup technology proved to be difficult, expensive, and time consuming. Hence, numerous existing technologies were redesigned for environmental cleanup. An important example of retooling of existing bodies of science and technology is the adaptation of surfactant-and cosolvent-enhanced oil recovery methods (used in the petroleum industry) for the removal of nonaqueous-phase liquids (NAPLs), such as gasoline and chlorinated solvents, from aquifers. Another is the adaptation of extractive metallurgy technology for the removal of metal contaminants, such as lead, from soil. As new or redesigned technologies became available, a new problem surfaced—the unwillingness of regulatory agencies and the cleanup community to embrace them. Most of the new technologies were considered unproven, and the risk of their use and potential failure was unacceptable. In the environmental technology development community this phenomenon became known as part of the "Valley of Death," symbolizing the failure of most remediation technologies to progress successfully from the research and development stage to full-scale implementation. That is, good technologies never reached the commercial stage because of real or perceived risks in using them. The NRC addressed this problem in the 1997 study Innovations in Ground Water and Soil Cleanup: From Concept to Commercialization. In 1995, under the guidance of the Board on Radioactive Waste Management (BRWM), the NRC appointed the Committee on Environmental Management Technologies (CEMT) to advise DOE's Office of Science and Technology on its environmental remediation technology development

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Ground Water & Soil Cleanup: Improving Management of Persistent Contaminants program. Because of the great breadth of the technological issues involved in cleanup of the nation's nuclear legacy, subcommittees were formed to address specific environmental media, waste types, and technology areas. CEMT's two annual reports identified the need for in-depth review and analysis of technology development beyond the scope and charge of its subcommittees. As a result, the NRC formed several new committees in 1997 to advise DOE on specific areas of technology development. One of these committees was the Committee on Technologies for Cleanup of Sub-surface Contaminants in the DOE Weapons Complex, which wrote this report. The committee's charge was to focus on the most recalcitrant problems remaining in groundwater and soil: DNAPLs, metals, and radionuclides. A study of any one of these contaminant groups could have been challenging. Addressing all three in one report was a significant test of the committee's knowledge and breadth. Physical and chemical properties of contaminants determine their behavior in environmental media. Because of the diverse properties of DNAPLs, metals, and radionuclides, scientists and engineers seldom work with more than one of these groups. Regardless, our assignment was to review the status of DOE's subsurface remediation technology development program for all three groups and provide recommendations to help direct future activities. Understandably, all members of the committee were not able to contribute equally, but the diversity of backgrounds and knowledge that committee members were able to bring to this study provided for rich and intellectually challenging discussions that generally led to consensus. We hope our efforts will suffice to identify the current state of the art of technology development for remediation of these contaminant groups and that we provide insights that will prove useful to DOE and the nation. This study was conducted by a very diverse and talented group of scientists and engineers. I am indebted to them for their hard work and dedication to our assignment. Most of us, I believe, may have learned more than we contributed. That is our reward. Studies of this depth and breadth, however, are beyond the ability of a committee to bring to completion on its own. A skilled and competent NRC staff is essential. We were blessed by having one of the NRC's most consummate professionals as our study director. Having Jackie MacDonald work with us was not a chance draw. I requested that she serve as our study director if her involvement in the project could be arranged. My past work with her has been very productive. She played a pivotal role in the Alternatives for Ground Water Cleanup study, helping us synthesize information on a highly complex, controversial, and politically charged issue. She was also study director of the highly insightful study Innovations in Ground Water

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Ground Water & Soil Cleanup: Improving Management of Persistent Contaminants and Soil Cleanup, which identified key issues limiting the development of new environmental remediation technology. I consider Jackie MacDonald's participation critical to the success of this study. Several other NRC staff members also were essential to completion of this project. During the early part of the study, Rebecca Burka and Erika Williams managed logistical arrangements for committee meetings and helped with research. Latricia Bailey effectively took over this role for the later part of the study and also managed production of the report manuscript; her efficiency and attention to detail are greatly appreciated by the committee members. Susan Mockler contributed valuable research assistance and help in inviting appropriate guests to speak at committee meetings for the early part of the study. The committee is also indebted to the many scientists and others from inside and outside DOE, too numerous to list here, who took the time to present information to the committee. Finally, we are most appreciative of the managers of DOE's Subsurface Contaminants Focus Area (SCFA) program for their cooperation in this study. SCFA staff members were extremely helpful in providing the committee with information needed to assess DOE's progress in developing new subsurface remediation technologies and in coordinating arrangements for several meetings at DOE installations. We are especially grateful to Jim Wright, Skip Chamberlain, Phil Washer, and Joan Baum for their cooperation and insights. Of course, this study would not have been possible without financial sponsorship from the Department of Energy. Although this report focuses on contaminated sites owned by DOE, the information on remediation technologies and problems in cleanup applies well beyond facilities in the former nuclear weapons production complex. We hope that this report will help guide development of the next generation of remediation technologies for broad use nationwide. This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC's Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: Edgar Berkey, Concurrent Technologies Corporation; David Blowes, University of Waterloo; Suresh Chandra Rao, University of Florida; Roy E. Gephardt, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Walter Kovalick, Jr., U.S. Environmental

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Ground Water & Soil Cleanup: Improving Management of Persistent Contaminants Protection Agency; Jane C. S. Long, University of Nevada; Richard A. Meserve, Covington & Burling; Dade Moeller, Dade Moeller & Associates, Inc.; and Philip A. Palmer, E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company. While the individuals listed above have provided constructive comments and suggestions, it must be emphasized that responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. C. Herb Ward Rice University Houston, Texas

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Ground Water & Soil Cleanup: Improving Management of Persistent Contaminants Contents     EXECUTIVE SUMMARY   1     DOE's Progress in Groundwater and Soil Remediation   2     The Changing Regulatory Environment   3     Technologies for Metals and Radionuclides   4     Technologies for DNAPLs   4     DOE Remediation Technology Development   7     Recommendations   11 1   INTRODUCTION: DOE'S GROUNDWATER AND SOIL CONTAMINATION PROBLEM   15     Limitations of Conventional Groundwater and Soil Cleanup Technologies   17     DOE's Program for Developing Groundwater and Soil Cleanup Technologies   19     Dimensions of DOE's Subsurface Contamination Problem   21     DOE's Progress to Date in Cleaning Up Groundwater and Soil Contamination   35 2   THE CHANGING REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT   39     Overview of Applicable Federal Regulations   40     Baseline Cleanup Goals   47     Changing Regulatory Environment   54     Conclusions   68

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Ground Water & Soil Cleanup: Improving Management of Persistent Contaminants 3   METALS AND RADIONUCLIDES: TECHNOLOGIES FOR CHARACTERIZATION, REMEDIATION, AND CONTAINMENT   72     Factors Affecting Risks of Metal and Radionuclide Contamination   72     Geochemical Characteristics of Metal and Radionuclide Contaminants: Effects on Treatment Options   76     Characterization of Metal and Radionuclide Contamination   77     Physical Barriers for Containing Contaminants   84     Technologies for Immobilizing Metals and Radionuclides   96     Technologies for Mobilizing and Extracting Metals and Radionuclides   112     Conclusions   120 4   DNAPLS: TECHNOLOGIES FOR CHARACTERIZATION, REMEDIATION, AND CONTAINMENT   129     The DNAPL Problem   129     Characterization of DNAPL Contamination   133     Remediation Technologies for DNAPL Source Zones   140     Remediation Technologies for Plumes of Dissolved DNAPL Contaminants   171     Common Limitations of DNAPL Remediation Technologies   192     Conclusions   193 5   DOE REMEDIATION TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT: PAST EXPERIENCE AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS   202     Barriers to Innovative Technology Use at DOE Sites   203     DOE Steps to Increase Innovative Technology Deployment   207     Deployment of Innovative Remediation Technologies at DOE Installations   212     Effectiveness of Reforms in Promoting Deployments   218     SCFA Technology Development Achievements   220     Conclusions   235 6   FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS   240     Setting Technology Development Priorities   240     Improving Overall Program Direction   244     Overcoming Barriers to Deployment   245     Addressing Budget Limitations   247

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Ground Water & Soil Cleanup: Improving Management of Persistent Contaminants     APPENDIXES         A Facilities at Which DOE Is Responsible for Environmental Cleanup   253     B SCFA Technology Deployment Report   264     C Biographical Sketches of Committee Members and Staff   269     D Acronyms   274     INDEX   277