A Short Course on Stable Isotope Approaches for Determining the Fate and Distinguishing Sources of Contaminants at DoD Sites

Paul Hatzinger | APTIM Federal Services, LLC



The key technical objective of this technology transfer effort is to develop and present a short course providing practical information and guidance concerning the application of stable isotope technology for environmental remediation and forensic applications at DoD sites. The research team will target DoD Remedial Project Managers (RPMs) and environmental scientists, but will also work to engage state and federal regulators and environmental consultants working at DoD facilities because adoption of stable isotope technologies will require broad understanding of their utility. The short course will be presented online as a multipart series, at a number of key DoD sites, and at one or more national scientific meetings attended by DoD RPMs, regulators and DoD consultants. Short course materials will be posted at this site once available.

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Technical Approach

Stable isotope analysis, and particularly compound-specific stable isotope analysis (CSIA), is a very powerful and useful tool that continues to be improved through fundamental and applied research. Stable isotopes have been demonstrated to be effective at helping detect, understand, and quantify biological and abiotic degradation of contaminants of concern at DoD sites, such as chlorinated volatile organic compounds (cVOCs), propellants, explosives, and fuel additives, among others. Stable isotope analysis is now ready to be applied more broadly throughout the DoD environmental remediation community. An important feature of stable isotope technology is that it can distinguish changes in contaminant concentration due to degradative processes, as these cause isotope fractionation, from those caused by nondestructive processes such as dilution, dispersion, and sorption. This has led to two primary applications that have received SERDP & ESTCP attention to date, the use of isotopes to document contaminant degradation in the field, and the use of isotopes to trace contaminant sources in complex environments.

ER18-5022 Photo

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Stable isotope methods can help address many questions for RPMs at military sites (e.g., monitored natural attenuation assessment, source delineation, determining field degradation rates), and there are commercial, academic, and/or government laboratories (based on isotope and compound) that can perform the requisite analyses. However, these methods are presently underutilized. This short course will provide DoD RPMs as well as consultants and regulators, with a practical background on the applications of stable isotopes at DoD sites. Ideally, this knowledge will lead to increased and appropriate use of this technology at field sites to improve cost efficiency of future monitoring and remediation applications. (Anticipated Project Completion - 2020)

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Points of Contact

Principal Investigator

Dr. Paul Hatzinger

APTIM Federal Services, LLC

Phone: 609-895-5356

Program Manager

Environmental Restoration