In this study, a full-scale biosparging investigation was conducted at a petroleum-hydrocarbon spill site. Field results reveal that natural attenuation was the main cause of the decrease in major contaminants [benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes (BTEX)] concentrations in groundwater before the operation of biosparging system. Evidence of the occurrence of natural attenuation within the BTEX plume includes: (1) decrease of DO, nitrate, sulfate, and redox potential, (2) production of dissolved ferrous iron, sulfide, methane, and CO2, (3) decreased BTEX concentrations along the transport path, (4) increased microbial populations, and (5) limited spreading of the BTEX plume. Field results also reveal that the operation of biosparging caused the shifting of anaerobic conditions inside the plume to aerobic conditions. This variation can be confirmed by the following field observations inside the plume due to the biosparging process: (1) increase in DO, redox potential, nitrate, and sulfate, (2) decrease dissolved ferrous iron, sulfide, and methane, (3) increased total cultivable heterotrophs, and (4) decreased total cultivable anaerobes as well as methanogens. Results of polymerase chain reaction, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis, and nucleotide sequence analysis reveal that three BTEX biodegraders (Candidauts magnetobacterium, Flavobacteriales bacterium, and Bacteroidetes bacterium) might exist at this site. Results show that more than 70% of BTEX has been removed through the biosparging system within a 10-month remedial period at an averaged groundwater temperature of 18 °C. This indicates that biosparging is a promising technology to remediate BTEX contaminated groundwater.
- Natural attenuation