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Modelling the fate of styrene in a mixed petroleum hydrocarbon plume

By Colombani N., Mastrocicco M., Gargini A., Davis G. and Prommer H.


Severe petroleum hydrocarbon contamination (styrene and the BTEX compounds: benzene,\ud toluene, ethylbenzene and the isomers of xylene) from leaking sewers was detected in a\ud Quaternary aquifer below a chemical plant in the Padana Plain, Italy. From 1994, active pump\ud and treat remediation has been employed. The site is bordered by canals which, in combination\ud with variable pumping rates and groundwater flow directions, control groundwater levels. In\ud this study we sought to determine the fate of styrene at the site within a mixed styrene/BTEX\ud plume where the hydraulic boundaries induced strong seasonal variations in flows. In order to\ud determine the fate of styrene, detailed field investigations provided intensive depth profile\ud information. This information was then incorporated into a staged flow and reactive transport\ud modelling.\ud Three sets of measurements were obtained from sampling multilevel samplers (MLSs) under\ud different hydraulic conditions at the site. These included measurements of BTEX, styrene, all\ud major ions, pH and redox potential. A three-dimensional transient flow model was developed\ud and calibrated to simulate an unconfined sandy aquifer with a variable flow field. Subsequently\ud a reactive, multi-component transport model was employed to simulate the fate of dissolved\ud BTEX and styrene along a selected flow line at the site. Each petroleum hydrocarbon compound\ud was transported as independent species. Different, kinetically controlled degradation rates and\ud a toxicity effect were simulated to explain the observed, selective degradation of pollutants in\ud groundwater. Calibration of the model was accomplished by comparison with the three\ud different sets of measurements obtained from the MLS devices. The results from various\ud scenarios show that the detailed simulation of geochemical changes can be very useful to\ud improve the site's conceptual model

Topics: Reactive transport, Styrene, BTEX, Modelling, Dispersion, Natural attenuation, Toxicity
Year: 2009
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.jconhyd.2008.11.005
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