Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version



Published in Chemosphere 71 (2008) 933–941.


In situ chemical reduction of clays and iron oxides in subsurface environments is an emerging technology for treatment of contaminated groundwater. Our objective was to determine the efficacy of dithionite-reduced sediments from the perched Pantex Aquifer (Amarillo, TX) to abiotically degrade the explosives RDX (hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine), HMX (octahydro-1,3,5,7-tetranitro- 1,3,5,7-tetrazocine), and TNT (2,4,6-trinitrotoluene). The effects of dithionite/buffer concentrations, sediments-solution ratios, and the contribution of Fe(II) were evaluated in batch experiments. Results showed that reduced Pantex sediments were highly effective in degrading all three high explosives. Degradation rates increased with increasing dithionite/buffer concentrations and soil to solution ratios (1:80–1:10 w/v). When Fe(II) was partially removed from the reduced sediments by washing (citrate-bicarbonate buffer), RDX degradation slowed, but degradation efficiency could be restored by adding Fe(II) back to the treated sediments and maintaining an alkaline pH. These data support in situ redox manipulation as a remedial option for treating explosive-contaminated groundwater at the Pantex site.