The objective of this limited-scope Statement of Need was to develop innovative approaches for treatment of investigation-derived waste (IDW) from investigations of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) contamination in the subsurface. This IDW largely consisted of excess soil cuttings, purge water from groundwater sampling, and fluid from decontamination of drilling equipment that were contaminated at varying levels with PFAS as well as potentially many other traditional CERCLA and RCRA contaminants. The preference was for destructive technologies that treat the IDW rather than rely on landfilling so as to avoid potential future environmental liability given that disposal requirements for PFAS are evolving.
Limited-scope proposals were sought to test proof of concept; however, proposed research should have focused on developing innovative technologies that ultimately have the potential to meet the following requirements:
Proposals needed to clearly state which specific PFAS would be included in the analytical testing. Although the emphasis should have been on perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate, consideration should have been given to including other commonly occurring, high priority PFAS (e.g., perfluorononanoic acid, and perfluorohexane sulfonate); at a minimum, the six PFAS identified in the USEPA UCMR-3 should have been measured. Justification should have been provided for which PFAS would be included in the laboratory studies.
Funded projects will appear below as project overviews are posted to the website.
More cost-effective and efficient technologies for treatment of IDW from PFAS investigations will greatly aid Department of Defense (DoD) Remedial Project Managers (RPMs) in the management of these sites. On-site options compared to off-site disposal and incineration will result in significant cost reductions.
Aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) formulations have been used by DoD since the 1970s to suppress fires, and there are hundreds of sites with associated PFAS contamination. The DoD used AFFF mixtures containing significant quantities of PFOS and related perfluoroalkyl sulfonates such as PFHxS until 2002, when production stopped, although the DoD continued to use PFOS-containing AFFF stocks for some time after. Although the DoD's legacy use of AFFF included various fluorotelomer-based formulations, the vast majority of DoD's environmental liability likely results from the use of PFOS-based AFFF. Additional research on PFASs is timely given the USEPA's recent drinking water health advisories for two common PFASs, PFOA and PFOS, as well as the numerous states that are beginning to promulgate drinking water standards.
The DoD has begun performing investigations to determine the extent of PFAS contamination across its portfolio of sites. During the course of these investigations, large quantities of IDW are being (and will continue to be) generated. Current methods dictate landfilling of these wastes, but the DoD has a preference for destructive technologies that treat this IDW in order to minimize potential future environmental liability. However,incineration of all IDW is both costly and poses additional transportation requirements. Thus, alternative innovative technologies that would permit unrestricted disposal, discharge, and/or reuse of IDW on-site are a critical need.
Limited-scope proposals for funding up to $200,000 and duration of approximately one year are sought. Such proposals may be eligible for follow-on funding if they result in a successful initial project.