Demonstration projects were sought for tools, methodologies, or technologies that could reduce the cost of managing the Department of Defense’s (DoD) long-term liability associated with groundwater impacted by chemicals of concern. Such chemicals of concern include per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), chlorinated solvents, energetic compounds, emerging chemicals of interest to the DoD, or mixtures of these chemicals.
The primary focus of this topic area was development of innovative technologies and approaches for managing sites and the associated risks where chemicals of concern will persist for a significant period of time after an initial remedy is selected. The following topics were of particular interest:
- Development of cost-effective management tools or technologies to specifically address chemical source zones in complex geological environments that cause persistent groundwater plumes.
- Development of cost-effective management tools or technologies to address groundwater impacted by emerging chemicals of concern. Such technologies also must address common co-occurring chemicals with these emerging chemicals of concern.
- Assessment of how to better combine existing or new technologies to address complex sites and make informed decisions on transitions from active remediation to passive technologies.
- Optimization, assessment, and/or long-term monitoring tools related to remediation of impacted groundwater.
- Development and evaluation of tools to collect more site data of better quality at lower cost. Site data on groundwater quality, including chemicals of concern and biogeochemical conditions is of particular interest.
For those proposing projects addressing PFAS issues, review the SERDP and ESTCP memo for specific quality assurance/quality control requirements for all projects addressing PFAS.
In situ or ex situ treatment options were of interest, but proposers must have been clear on the need for and advantages of ex situ treatment. Technologies and methods were sought that have well-defined demonstration/validation questions to address. Proposed technologies should have completed all required laboratory work, although site-specific treatability work prior to the field demonstration was acceptable. Demonstrations should have addressed technical and/or regulatory issues that inhibited the widespread use of the proposed approach across the DoD. ESTCP supports demonstrations at a scale sufficient to determine the operational performance of the remediation technology and to estimate its expected full-scale costs. Full-scale cleanup of specific sites was not performed under ESTCP. Specific DoD demonstration site(s) were allowed to be suggested in the pre-proposal, but were not required.
Funded projects will appear below as project overviews are posted to the website.
Results from this work will provide the DoD with an improved capability to cost-effectively characterize, remediate, and manage groundwater sites impacted by chemicals of concern.
Of the DoD’s Installation Restoration Program (IRP) sites, groundwater impacted by chemicals of concern is often the most intractable problem. Substantial progress has been made in the past 20 years in the development of technologies for remediation of impacted groundwater; however, challenges remain. Remedial costs are particularly high at sites where (1) contamination is extensive, but concentrations are low, (2) dense nonaqueous phase liquid (DNAPL) is present in the subsurface, (3) site hydrogeology is complex (e.g., fractured bedrock), or (4) site conditions require extensive long-term monitoring. The National Research Council study, “Alternatives for Managing the Nation’s Complex Contaminated Groundwater Sites” reviews and highlights the technical challenges the DoD faces in managing these sites. Also of concern are issues associated with emerging chemicals of concern in groundwater. Chemicals such as PFAS or 1,4-dioxane often co-occur with other chemicals, yet treatment options that are effective for one class of compounds may not be for others. More cost-effective treatment technologies are needed for these emerging chemicals of concern.
ESTCP has supported the demonstration of a number of technologies designed for protection and remediation of groundwater. Proposers should be familiar with the ESTCP portfolio of technologies and tools in order to avoid duplication of previous efforts. ESTCP groundwater project descriptions are available on the ESTCP website.