Servizio Comunitario di Informazione in materia di Ricerca e Sviluppo - CORDIS

Processes underlying the remediation of creosote contaminated groundwater in fractured sandstone

Coal carbonisation and gasification are major environmental hazards. This project addressed the impact of such sites on groundwater and the potential for remediation. The project was a tri-national collaboration between Bradford University, DTU, and BRGM, France. To date the project has 12 research papers that are published or in press, 3 papers submitted and many in the planning stages. In addition 4 MScs, 1 MPhil, 1 PhD and 4 PhDs nearing completion.

An example site was used as a focus for the research. This enabled detailed scientific investigations that closely relate to true field conditions, prior to generalisation to the wider context. The research was based at a former coal carbonisation plant that contaminated the underlying aquifer with ammonium and organic compounds. Estimating the source term was a problem at the site and it is anticipated that equivalent problems will be encountered at other similar sites. Simulations were used to back-calculate the source flux and similar methodologies are applicable to other sites.

Natural attenuation has removed the organic component from the aquifer. Ammonium is left on the field site but will degrade given sufficient space and time. Ammonium appears to pose a greater risk to groundwater than other ammonium liquor components. Natural attenuation will also be effective at other sites provided the key conditions of sufficient dilution, and enough electron acceptors, are met. These conditions require space for the plume to grow, hence if a receptor is too close an alternative remediation scheme should be considered.

Extensive laboratory, field and modelling experiments have increased knowledge regarding the transport of pollutants from coal carbonisation plants. This increased knowledge is imparted to industry by journal publications. An innovative multilevel sampling technique was refined throughout the project. The sampler was used to recover depth specific samples across the site at low cost.


David LERNER, (Professor of Environmental Engineering)