Arsenic redistribution between sediments and water near a highly contaminated source

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Environmental Science & Technology
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Nov 15
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Mechanisms controlling arsenic partitioning between sediment, groundwater, porewaters, and surface waters were investigated at the Vineland Chemical Company Superfund site in southern New Jersey. Extensive inorganic and organic arsenic contamination at this site (historical total arsenic >10 000 mu g L-1 or >130 mu M in groundwater) has spread downstream to the Blackwater Branch, Maurice River, and Union Lake. Stream discharge was measured in the Blackwater Branch, and water samples and sediment cores were obtained from both the stream and the lake. Porewaters and sediments were analyzed for arsenic speciation as well as total arsenic, iron, manganese, and sulfur, and they indicate that geochemical processes controlling mobility of arsenic were different in these two locations. Arsenic partitioning in the Blackwater Branch was consistent with arsenic primarily being controlled by sulfur, whereas in Union Lake, the data were consistent with arsenic being controlled largely by iron. Stream discharge and arsenic concentrations indicate that despite large-scale groundwater extraction and treatment, >99% of arsenic transport away from the site results from continued discharge of high arsenic groundwater to the stream, rather than remobilization of arsenic in stream sediments. Changing redox conditions would be expected to change arsenic retention on sediments. In sulfur-controlled stream sediments, more oxic conditions could oxidize arsenic-bearing sulfide minerals, thereby releasing arsenic to porewaters and streamwaters; in iron-controlled lake sediments, more reducing conditions could release arsenic from sediments via reductive dissolution of arsenic-bearing iron oxides.


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Doi 10.1021/Es050727t