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TitleA detailed field-based evaluation of naphthenic acid mobility in groundwater
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsOiffer, A. A. L., Barker J. F., Gervais F. M., Mayer K. U., Ptacek C. J., & Rudolph D. L.
Pagination17 pages
Date Published09/2009
PublisherJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Publication Languageeng
Keywordschemistry, groundwater, hydrogeology, naphthenic acids

An anaerobic plume of process-affected groundwater was characterized in a shallow sand aquifer adjacent to an oil sands tailings impoundment. Based on biological oxygen demand measurements, the reductive capacity of the plume is considered minimal. Major dissolved components associated with the plume include HCO3, Na, Cl, SO4, and naphthenic acids (NAs). Quantitative and qualitative NA analyses were performed on groundwater samples to investigate NA fate and transport in the subsurface. Despite subsurface residence times exceeding 20 years, significant attenuation of NAs by biodegradation was not observed based on screening techniques developed at the time of the investigation. Relative to conservative tracers (i.e., Cl), overall NA attenuation in the subsurface is limited, which is consistent with batch sorption and microcosm studies performed by other authors. Insignificant biological oxygen demand and low concentrations of dissolved As (< 10 µg L− 1) in the plume suggest that the potential for secondary trace metal release, specifically As, via reductive dissolution reactions driven by ingress of process-affected water is minimal. It is also possible that readily leachable As is not present in significant quantities within the sediments of the study area. Thus, for similar plumes of process-affected groundwater in shallow sand aquifers which may occur as oil sands mining expands, a reasonable expectation is for NA persistence, but minimal trace metal mobilization.

Locational Keywords

Athabasca Oil Sands Region (AOSR)

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