INTRINSIC AND STIMULATED IN SITU BIODEGRADATION OF HEXACHLOROCYCLOHEXANE (HCH)


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Abstract

The feasibility of the biodegradation of HCH and its intermediates has been investigated. A recent characterisation of two sites in The Netherlands has shown intrinsic biodegradation of HCH. At one site, breakdown products (monochlorobenzene, benzene and chlorophenol) were found in the core of the HCH-plume, whereas the HCH-concentration decreased over time and space. Characterisation of a second, industrial site indicated less intrinsic biodegradation and the need to stimulate biodegradation. In the laboratory, enhanced HCH degradation was tested with soil and groundwater material from both sites, and the required conversion to the intermediates benzene and monochlorobenzene was demonstrated. Furthermore, the biodegradation of these intermediates could be initiated by adding low amounts of oxygen (<5%). Adding nitrate enhanced this degradation. We hypothesise that this occurs through anaerobic nitrate reducing conversion of oxidised intermediates. At the non-industrial other site, intrinsic degradation took place, as shown in the laboratory experiments. Interpretation of the field data with computer codes Modflow and RT3D was performed. As a result of the modelling study, it has been proposed to monitor natural attenuation for several years before designing the final approach. At the industrial site, the results of the batch experiments are applied. Anaerobic HCH degradation to monochlorobenzene and benzene is stimulated via the addition of an electron donor. Infiltration facilities have been installed at the site to create an anaerobic infiltration zone in which HCH will be degraded, and these facilities are combined with the redevelopment of the site.

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