Additional Technical Considerations Associated with Remediating Sites Contaminated with Oxygenates

Other technical considerations related to remediation of sites contaminated with MTBE and oxygenates include

1. Contaminant concentration

2. Cleanup goals

3. Presence of other contaminants at the site

4. Site-specific considerations that may affect the selection and design of treatment technologies.

There tends to be wide variability in the range of concentrations of MTBE or other oxygenates in soil and groundwater at sites. The concentration of MTBE in contaminated groundwater and soil ranges from 5 to 1,000,000 pg/L. In addition, soil and groundwater treatment goals for MTBE-contaminated sites are currently based on state-specific standards and risk-based levels that range from 5 to 280,000 pg/L in soil and from 5 to 200,000 pg/L in groundwater. State-established primary drinking water limits for MTBE range from 5 to 240 pg/L.21 High contaminant concentrations at sites with low cleanup goals can result in the need for treatment technologies and system designs that are able to achieve higher removal efficiencies and more aggressive remediation.

Many other factors can affect the performance and cost of implementing a technology at a given site, including the nature and extent of contamination, depth of contamination, physical and chemical characteristics of a site (such as dimensions and hydrogeology), design and operation of a treatment system, regulatory requirements, and logistical issues. Typically, these factors are quantified before an engineering level design is made for the use of a technology at a given site.

In addition, it is important to recognize that sites with spilled or leaked gasoline contain 200-300 distinct chemicals that can contaminate soil and groundwater; approximately 6-10% of the spilled/leaked gasoline typically consist of fuel oxygenates such as MTBE.6

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