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Selection of dispersivity in groundwater risk assessment

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2 Author(s)
Xiaofeng, Wu ; Department of Hydraulic and Hydropower Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China ; Jie, Tang

The Domenico model is used in combination with ASTM E 1739 in a Tier 2 risk assessment of chlorinated organic solvents contaminated groundwater sites to predict potential contaminant concentration in groundwater down-gradient from the point of exposure (POE). A knowledge of the dispersivity parameters is necessary for carrying out this calculation. A constant longitudinal dispersivity of 10 m is often used in analytical and numerical calculation. However, because of the scale effect of dispersion, two other main approaches are currently often used. From the viewpoint of conservative principle in risk assessment, it is necessary to determine which dispersivity data will give a higher predicted concentration, corresponding to a more conservative risk calculation. Generally, it is considered that a smaller dispersivity leads to a higher predicted concentration. This assumption is correct when dispersion is the only natural attenuation factor. However, degradation of commonly encountered chlorinated organic solvents in environment under natural condition has been widely reported. Calculations given in this paper of several representative cases show that a general consideration of the influence of dispersivity on concentration prediction is not always correct when a degradation term is included in the calculation. To give a conservative risk calculation, the scale effect of dispersion is considered. Calculations also show that the dispersivity parameters need to be determined by considering the POE distance from the source, the groundwater velocity, and the degradation rate of the contaminant.

Published in:

Tsinghua Science and Technology  (Volume:9 ,  Issue: 6 )