New Jersey Water Science Center
Great Falls of the Passaic River at Paterson, N.J.
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Project Title: NJ00219 NAWC Toxics
Statement of Problem
Spills of TCE into bedrock aquifers have significantly contaminated a small part of the regional bedrock aquifer. If left alone, the contamination plume will migrate along flow paths to contaminate ever-increasing areas of the aquifer. At present remediation efforts exist at NAWC. The Navy has removed all above ground sources of TCE and they have removed all significant and accessible contaminated soil to a depth of about 6 ft in the Site 1 and Site 3 areas. The only major source of contamination that remains is TCE and its biodegradation products that are in the bedrock aquifer. The Navy built an extraction system which; (1) removes contaminated groundwater and (2) create a cone of depression over the bedrock contamination plume to retard the migration of the plume. Methods of determining the succinct flow paths, flow rates, degradation rates, are rudimentary and need to be further developed. Methods to reduce the cost of groundwater quality monitoring by using dialysis bags are in a middle stage of development and testing. This method appears to be feasible and cost effective and further development and testing needs to be continued. Methods to enhance the insitu biodegradation need to be explored, deployed, and evaluated. The massive amount of information/data needs to be accessible via a web page to the Navy, its cooperators, and state and federal regulators.
Strategy and Approach
The TCE, DCE, VC plumes at the Naval Air Warfare Center in West Trenton, NJ will be used as a field laboratory by a team of government research scientists to examine the processes that affect toxic chemicals in groundwater. These plumes were caused by leakage and spillage of TCE and jet fuel onto land surface and its subsequent seepage into the bedrock aquifer beneath the decommissioned jet engine testing facility. Drilling and sampling have determined the distribution of chemicals and microbes in the plumes, and simple hypotheses have been developed to explain these distributions. Field experiments, such as tracer studies; detailed characterization of the variability of the aquifer's physical and chemical properties; laboratory studies; and computer modeling will be used to test these hypotheses. The understanding of the movement and fate of the TCE and the biodegradation products of DCE and VC will be used to predict the rate at which groundwater quality can be restored naturally since leakage and spillage has stopped and to develop methods to artificially enhance the rate of restoration. These findings will have broad application to similar sites nationwide and will directly benefit efforts to restore groundwater quality at the Naval Air Warfare Center. The research is part of the U.S. Geological Survey's Toxic Substances Hydrology Program.