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Soil Washing

There is a need for increased use of new


separation technologies (such as soil washing)
that reduce the quantity of waste requiring
solidification/stabilization, or allow the
recycling of valuable metals.
--EPA 1993
Monroe L. Weber-Shirk

School of Civil and


Environmental Engineering

Need for the Technology


EPA estimates that over 20 million cubic yards of
soil at current NPL sites (national priority list) are
contaminated with metals
DOE (Department of Energy) estimates 10s of
millions of cubic yards
Leaking Underground Storage Tanks (UST)
contribute 56 million cubic yards
DOD (Department of Defense) ?
Volume reduction technologies!!

DOE

Containing the Cold War Mess:


Restructuring the Environmental Management of the
U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex
Marc Fioravanti
Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D.
October 1997

The nuclear arms race and its aftermath have created the largest
and most complex problem of environmental remediation and
waste management in U.S. history
The problem is so complicated and costly that there is a tendency
in the nuclear establishment to simply bury the problem, literally
and figuratively, creating what have been called national
sacrifice zones
The current Department of Energy (DOE) best estimate for
partial environmental restoration and waste management and
disposal is $227 billion over a 75-year period
$90 to $400 per cubic yard operating cost

DOE Waste Management

LLW = Low-Level Waste


MLLW = Mixed Low-Level Waste
TRU = Transuranic
HLW = High-Level Waste
SNF = Spent Nuclear Fuel
GCD =Greater Confinement Disposal
NTS = Nevada Test Site
LANL = Los Alamos National Laboratory
ORNL = Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Soil Washing
A technology for volume reduction of
contaminated soil
Potentially removes mixed wastes from
contaminated soil so the soil can be returned to the
original site
References

Griffiths, R. A. 1995. Soil-washing technology and practice


Journal of Hazardous Materials 40(2): 175-189.
Semer, R. and K. R. Reddy. 1996. Evaluation of soil washing
process to remove mixed contaminants from a sandy loam
Journal of Hazardous Materials 45(1): 45-57.

Examples of Contaminated Waste


Sites with Mixed Wastes

DOE/DOD sites with radioactive metals plus organic


scintillation cocktails.
Cornell chemical dump near airport: organic solvents,
metal salts, ... all dumped in close proximity to each other.
Coal gas plants

pyrolysis was used to get coal gas (for street lamps)


also produced coal tars containing polycyclic aromatic
hydrocarbons (PAHs) and coal ash that has high metal
concentration.

Printers ink contained both organic dyes and lead


Dumps

Possible Site Management


Strategies
Seal off site (clay barriers, concrete cover, fences to
keep people and animals out...)
Remove contaminated soil - huge volumes!
Remove contaminants using an in-situ separation
process

pump and treat


in situ bioremediation
electro-chemical remediation

Remove contaminants from excavated soil

soil washing, bioremediation, thermal desorption

Pump and Treat Limitations


Pollutants absorb (within), adsorb (on surface),
sorb (dont know precise mechanism), or attach to
the soil. High retardation factors. Immobile.
Soil properties
Point of zero charge

negatively charged at neutral pH


SiO2 has a PZC of pH 2-3 (at this pH enough hydrogen
ions have reacted with the surface to make it neutral).
At lower pH the surface would be positively charged.
Therefore cations (metals) easily bind to the negatively
charged soil.

Soil Washing

Separation of fine soil particles from larger soil


particles
contaminants adhere to particle surfaces
small particles have more surface area/unit mass
removal of fines from a contaminated soil also removes
most of the contaminants

Separation of contaminants from the fines


solubilize contaminants in the wash water
surfactants, acids, bases, chelating agents, alcohols,...

Soil Washing - Process


Description
Excavate contaminated soil
Remediate the contaminated soil

Remove large debris or particles larger than 2 in.


Separate all contaminants from the soil

remove sand after initial water wash


silt/clay fraction requires further treatment

Treat or dispose of residues


Return soil

EPA Mobile Soil-Washing


System
Feed Soil
Wash Water

Drum Washer

Coarse Fraction

Trommel

Contaminant + water

Hydrocyclones

Fine Fraction

Stirred
Tank
Chemical Additives

Stirred
Tank

Stirred
Tank

Stirred
Tank

Clean Water

Clean
Product

Wash Water Additives


Generally

undesirable

complicate

recycling or disposal of wash water


additional unit processes needed to remove
additives
Additives
acids

are contaminant specific

and chelating agents: ________


solubilize _______
metals
bases: improve extraction of _______
_____
organic acids
surfactants and organic-solvents: improve
low _________
solubility organics
extraction of ____

Soil Washing: Pros and Cons

Pros
closed system: controlled
conditions
significant volume
reduction of contaminated
soil
applicable to varied waste
groups
hazardous waste remains
on site
lower cost than removing
contaminated soil

Cons
no reduction in contaminant
toxicity if only physical separation
is used
potentially hazardous chemicals
used that may be difficult to
remove from soil
effectiveness limited by

complex waste mixtures


high humic content in soils
undesired solvent-soil reactions (ex.
soil ANC)
high fine-grained clay content

Synthetic Contaminated Soil


(Zinc and Methylene Blue)
Zinc

properties

cation

(positive charge)

Methylene

blue properties

cation
organic
hydrophobic
can

be oxidized

Remediation Strategies

Zinc
Neutralize the negative soil charge with acid
Solubilize the metals with chelating agents

Methylene blue
Neutralize the negative soil charge with acid
Oxidize methylene blue with acid or an oxidant such as
chlorine, ozone, or hydrogen peroxide
Solubilize with a surfactant (soap) or with a solvent

Expectations
extractant

Zn

Methylene Blue

solubilize

solubilize/oxidize

problems

Environmental impact

water
acid
organic solvent
surfactants
chelating agent
oxidant

solubilize

solubilize

complex and
solubilize
oxidize

lots of ANC
in soil CO2

Would need to
neutralize acid
remove solvent

Solubilize soil
particles
complex may
sorb to soil
very reactive/
short life

Use biodegradable
surfactants

Analytical Methods
Methylene

Blue

UV-Visible

Spectrophotometer

Zinc
Atomic Absorption

Spectrophotometer

Each

method requires that the compound be


liquid phase!
in the ______
Extraction

from the soil is required for the

analysis!
How can we know how much contaminant is on
it with known amount!
the soil initially? Contaminate
________________________

Soil Washing:
Potential Experiment Objectives

Effect of extractant concentration

Effect of soil type

Are organic contaminants more difficult to remove if soil


contains more organics?
Distilled water

Effect of multiple extractants

Optimize extractant dose (consider stoichiometry)

Acid followed by surfactant or chelating agent

Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate


Triton X-100
Acetone
HCl
NaOH
EDTA

Effect of a series of extractions (mimics real system)

Can additional contaminant be removed by a series of


extractions?