Tetrachloroethene and trichloroethene are typical by-products of the industrial production of chloromethanes. These by-products are known as “chlorinated pitches” and were often dumped in un-contained waste disposal sites causing groundwater contaminations. Previous research showed that a strongly depleted stable carbon isotope signature characterizes chlorinated compounds associated with chlorinated pitches whereas manufactured commercial compounds have more enriched carbon isotope ratios. The findings were restricted to a single case study and one element (i.e. carbon). This paper presents a multi-element Compound-Specific Stable Isotope Analysis (CSIA, including carbon, chlorine and hydrogen) of chlorinated aliphatic contaminants originated from chlorinated pitches at two sites with different hydrogeology and different producers of chloromethanes. The results show strongly depleted carbon signatures at both sites whereas the chlorine and the hydrogen signatures are comparable to those presented in the literature for manufactured commercial compounds. Multi-element CSIA allowed the identification of sources and site-specific processes affecting chloroethene transformation in groundwater as a result of emergency remediation measures. CSIA turned out to be an effective forensic tool to address the liability for the contamination, leading to a conviction for the crimes of unintentional aggravated public water supply poisoning and environmental disaster.

Multi-element compound specific stable isotope analysis of chlorinated aliphatic contaminants derived from chlorinated pitches

Filippini, Maria;Chiarini, Veronica;CROSTA, GIOVANNI;Gargini, Alessandro
2018

Abstract

Tetrachloroethene and trichloroethene are typical by-products of the industrial production of chloromethanes. These by-products are known as “chlorinated pitches” and were often dumped in un-contained waste disposal sites causing groundwater contaminations. Previous research showed that a strongly depleted stable carbon isotope signature characterizes chlorinated compounds associated with chlorinated pitches whereas manufactured commercial compounds have more enriched carbon isotope ratios. The findings were restricted to a single case study and one element (i.e. carbon). This paper presents a multi-element Compound-Specific Stable Isotope Analysis (CSIA, including carbon, chlorine and hydrogen) of chlorinated aliphatic contaminants originated from chlorinated pitches at two sites with different hydrogeology and different producers of chloromethanes. The results show strongly depleted carbon signatures at both sites whereas the chlorine and the hydrogen signatures are comparable to those presented in the literature for manufactured commercial compounds. Multi-element CSIA allowed the identification of sources and site-specific processes affecting chloroethene transformation in groundwater as a result of emergency remediation measures. CSIA turned out to be an effective forensic tool to address the liability for the contamination, leading to a conviction for the crimes of unintentional aggravated public water supply poisoning and environmental disaster.
Filippini, Maria; Nijenhuis, Ivonne; Kümmel, Steffen; Chiarini, Veronica; Crosta, Giovanni; Richnow, Hans H.; Gargini, Alessandro*
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/636528
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