U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


Date of this Version



Published in Ground Water Monitoring & Remediation (Winter 2003) 23:1 77-84.


Detailed site characterization data from the former electroplating shop at the U.S. Coast Guard Air Support Center, Elizabeth City, North Carolina, suggested that the elevated Cr(VI) in the capillary fringe area had contaminated the ground water at the site. Most of the mobile Cr(VI) is present in the capillary fringe zone of the aquifer under an oxidizing environment. Current literature suggests that the reduction of Cr(VI) to Cr(Ill) through in situ redox manipulation in the presence of a reductant is an innovative technique for remediating chromate-contaminated sediments and ground water. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of sodium dithionite in creating a reductive environment to remediate Cr(VI) present in soil. Sodium dithionite, a strong reductant, was injected into a small area of the vadose zone where elevated Cr(VI) was identified. Several striking changes observed in the target zone during the post-injection monitoring periods include a significant decrease in Eh(SHE), as much as ~ 700 m V, absence of dissolved oxygen for 48 weeks, and the increase of Fe(II) concentrations. Results indicated that the in situ remedial treatment of Cr(VI) in the capillary fringe area was effective and consequently the concentration of Cr(VI) in ground water dropped below the MCLG level. This research demonstrated the effectiveness of in situ abiotic remediation by reducing Cr(VI) concentrations, mobility, and toxicity in soils and ground water within a short period of time. Therefore, sodium dithionite would be a feasible and cost-effective option for a full-scale remedial approach for the contaminated site at the U.S. Coast Guard Facility.