Anaerobic abiotic transformations of cis-1,2-dichloroethene in fractured sandstone.

PMID 23102697


A fractured sandstone aquifer at an industrial site is contaminated with trichloroethene to depths greater than 244 m. Field data indicate that trichloroethene is undergoing reduction to cis-1,2-dichloroethene (cDCE); vinyl chloride and ethene are present at much lower concentrations. Transformation of cDCE by pathways other than reductive dechlorination (abiotic and/or biotic) is of interest. Pyrite, which has been linked to abiotic transformation of chlorinated ethenes, is present at varying levels in the sandstone. To evaluate the possible role of pyrite in transforming cDCE, microcosms were prepared with groundwater, ~40 mg L(-1) cDCE+[(14)C]cDCE, and crushed solids (pure pyrite, pyrite-rich sandstone, or typical sandstone). During 120 d of incubation, the highest level of cDCE transformation occurred with typical sandstone (11-14% (14)CO(2), 1-3% (14)C-soluble products), followed by pyrite-rich sandstone (2-4% (14)CO(2), 1% (14)C-soluble products) and even lesser amounts with pure pyrite. These results indicate pyrite is not likely the mineral involved in transforming cDCE. A separate experiment using only typical sandstone compared the rate of cDCE transformation in non-sterilized, autoclaved, and propylene-oxide sterilized treatments, with pseudo-first order rate constants of 8.7, 5.4, and 1.0 yr(-1), respectively; however, transformation stopped after several months of incubation. Autoclaving increased the volume of pores, adsorption pore diameter, and surface area in comparison to non-sterilized typical sandstone. Nevertheless, autoclaving was less disruptive than chemical sterilization. The results provide definitive experimental evidence that cDCE undergoes anaerobic abiotic and biotic transformation in typical sandstone, with formation of CO(2) and soluble products.