ESTCP 2015 Project-of-the-Year Award for Environmental Restoration
(Initially Released December 7, 2015) Chlorinated solvents are the most prevalent groundwater contaminants, with an estimated 15,000 to 25,000 contaminated sites in the United States. Naturally-occurring biological and abiotic processes contribute to contaminant attenuation in most hydrogeological systems, including contaminated aquifers. Over the years, monitored natural attenuation (MNA) and enhanced bioremediation have become common remedial approaches. At sites where natural processes alone are sufficient to meet site-specific remediation goals, MNA is implemented as the most cost-effective remedy. At sites where MNA is not sufficient to meet remediation goals, it may be necessary to enhance biological and/or abiotic degradation processes to jump start natural attenuation. Ms. Carmen Lebrón and her team developed BioPIC, a systematic approach and management expectation tool for determining if MNA, biostimulation, and/or bioaugmentation will be the most appropriate remedy based on site-specific conditions at contaminated groundwater sites. Their work built off of the scoring system developed by Dr. John Wilson and Mr. Todd Wiedemeier to assess the likelihood of in situ reductive dechlorination (EPA, 1998). BioPIC uses the quantitative relationships between biotic and abiotic parameters that contribute to the degradation of chlorinated ethenes to assist users in determining which pathway to selectively enhance. The tool allows the user to determine if degradation is occurring and, if it is, to determine the relevant degradation pathway(s) based on the assessment of specific analytical parameters.
This pragmatic approach will generate comprehensive and defensible remediation strategies, as well as reduce both capital and operation and maintenance costs for groundwater remediation. It can also minimize potential environmental impacts of more invasive bioremediation treatment options. Overall, BioPIC will aid remedial project managers in evaluating and selecting the most appropriate biologically-mediated remediation strategy for a given chlorinated solvent site.
For this important work, Ms. Lebrón and her project team received the 2015 ESTCP Project-of-the-Year Award for Environmental Restoration. Project Overview