PRB are a passive remediation technology for groundwater contaminated with dissolved nutrients and metals, petroleum hydrocarbons and chlorinated organic compounds. Since PRB have low energy use and relatively low cost of installation and operation, they are particularly well-suited for use in remote areas. The number of contaminated sites in areas of frozen ground will continue to increase with ongoing human occupation, and the need for low-cost remediation technologies such as PRB will increase over time. Freeze-thaw cycling creates a significant challenge for the long-term operation of PRB, particularly with respect to changes in grain size and hydraulic performance of the reactive media. PRB presently installed in polar regions are being monitored for long-term performance, and promising new materials and barrier designs are being assessed for their application to a wide range of contaminants in areas of frozen ground.

Acknowledgements Thanks to John Rayner and Ian Snape for comments on the text, and the Australian Research Council (LP0775073) for support.

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