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Guidelines for Contaminated Ground Water Plume Management

John Poullain, P.E.

Course Outline

This three-hour online course provides general guidelines and techniques for management of contaminated ground water plumes at uncontrolled hazardous and toxic waste sites. The management methods include extraction/injection well systems, subsurface barrier systems such as slurry trench cutoff walls, grout curtains, membrane and synthetic sheet curtains, sheet pile cutoff walls and pumping systems combined with subsurface barriers. Gravity systems, seepage basins, subsurface drains and drainage ditches and ground water barrier combinations are also discussed. Remediation controls for surface water and gas emissions are not discussed here. Remedial actions performed at a contaminated site must comply with federal and state regulations.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Learning Objective

At the conclusion of this three-hour course, the student will:

Intended Audience

This course is intended for civil engineers and planners.

Benefit to Attendees

The student will become familiar with methods and techniques used to treat and manage contaminated ground water plumes at hazardous and toxic waste sites (HTW). Ground water plumes can contain contaminants like volatiles, soluble organic, corrosive acids and alkalis. The student will understand the design and construction of deep well and extraction/injection well pumping systems, ground water barriers including slurry trench and sheet pile cutoff walls, grout curtains and membrane sheet curtains. Subsurface barriers use in combination with pumping systems are discussed. The basic guidelines for the O&M of a treatment method, guidance in the selection of the most appropriate method for treatment and their advantages and disadvantages are discussed. Potential environmental risks caused by the remedial activities and measures to take to minimize the risks are discussed.

Course Introduction

For any remediation project it must be determined whether cleanup or containment will be the best action. If containment actions are chosen, ground water pumping and ground water barriers are used to cleanup the contaminants and to prevent off-site migration of contaminant plumes. Remedial actions consist of site control and on site treatment. This course provides general guidelines and techniques for treating contaminated ground water plumes at uncontrolled hazardous and toxic waste disposal sites. A waste site must be investigated for a wide range of conditions, including ground water levels, surface drainage and subsurface ground conditions; including contaminated ground water plumes in three dimensions.

The advantages and disadvantages of plume management methods are compared. The methods discussed are extraction/injection well systems, ground water barriers and ground water drainage control. The treatment methods present certain risks to the public health and environment that must be considered. Considerations for utilizing a treatment method include energy use, O&M costs, requirements for excavation and adequate treatment performance. Environmental risks include mismanagement of surface and groundwater drainage and incomplete treatment. Leachate, migration of contaminants and runoff erosion can contaminate the subsoil, groundwater, water wells and nearby surface water unless properly managed.

Remedial actions must comply with the regulatory guidelines of the Department of Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP), the Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) Program, Resources Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA or commonly called "superfund").

Course Content

This course is based primarily on Chapter 3, section II of the US Army Corps of Engineers Manual, "Technical Guidelines for Hazardous and Toxic Waste Treatment and Cleanup Activities", EM 1110-1- 502 (1994 Edition, 38 pages), PDF file.

The link to the Engineers Manual is "Technical Guidelines for Hazardous and Toxic Waste Treatments and Cleanup Activities", Chapter 3, Section II, "Contaminate Ground Water Plume Management".

Note the label for Fig 3-22 should be Grout Application Limits by Soil Grain Size.

You need to open or download above documents to study this course.

Course Summary

State and federal regulations have to be complied with at hazardous and toxic waste sites in order to remove any threat to public health and the environment. This course considers the techniques and methods used for the remediation and control of contaminated ground water plumes. Ground water plumes can be contaminated with volatiles, soluble organics, corrosive acids and alkalis. Among the remediation methods discussed are ground water pumping systems, various subsurface ground water barriers, combination of pumping and subsurface barriers, control of ground water drainage and surface drainage. The design, installation, type of materials, advantage and disadvantages and the effects of physical site conditions are considered. Methods for collecting and removing contaminated ground water and diversion of ground water from waste sites are presented. Waste sites often consist of a diversity of contaminated materials, which include drums, tanks, landfills, lagoons and soils.


For additional technical information related to this subject, please refer to:
"Process for Cleanup of Hazardous Waste Sites", Information about site cleanup.
Overview of rational equation for watersheds, parameters used ands computing hydrographs with the rational equation.


Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

Take a Quiz

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of PDH Center or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered architect and/or professional engineer/surveyor. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.