Natural attenuation of petroleum contaminants is the process by which naturally-occurring bacteria break down petroleum hydrocarbons. This biodegradation process typically occurs much more rapidly under aerobic conditions, making a lack of dissolved oxygen—one of the most limiting factors of contaminant degradation.
Increasing dissolved oxygen in the zone of saturation can greatly increase the rate of contaminant degradation. Oxygen is often added to the subsurface through air sparging, or the injection of compressed air into specially-designed wells. Air sparging is typically conducted as continuous prolonged treatment but is also commonly used in multiple episodic treatment events.
Oxygen Release Compound (ORC) is a specifically designed compound to enhance aerobic conditions in saturated soil and groundwater. ERMI has successfully utilized ORC to increase dissolved oxygen and enhance aerobic degradation for petroleum site remediation. ORC is a bioremediation technique that has been demonstrated to greatly speed up petroleum hydrocarbon degradation and decrease site cleanup time in comparison to natural attenuation. ORC can also be utilized as a component of a larger remediation strategy.
Application of ORC can be an advantageous additional step while backfilling a source removal excavation. ORC is mixed with clean fill material within the saturated zone and provides a continued remedial effect on dissolved contaminant concentrations for up to 12 months following removal of the source material. ORC can also be injected using both temporary injection points or permanent injection wells. ORC can be used to target a variety of contaminants; the most widely targeted of which are Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, and Xylene (BTEX), and gasoline, diesel, and oil range organics.
ERMI has cost-effectively applied ORC as a remediation technique on a number of projects, including open-pit application of both slow-release pelletized form and slurry form, as a stand-alone injection-based strategy, and as a targeted polishing treatment following long-term remediation efforts.
ORC is but one component of the remedial toolkit regularly used by ERMI to reduce cleanup time, minimize site disruption, or provide that final push towards achieving cleanup goals.