Deployment of Phytotechnology in the 317/319 Area at Argonne National Laboratory-East, Argonne, Illinois

Site Name:

Argonne National Laboratory-East, 317/319 Area


Argonne, Illinois

Period of

Project started in June 1999. SITE Evaluation period from July 1999 to September 2001. Treatment period up to 20 years after project started.


Full Scale

-- The patented TreeMediation® TreeWell® Treatment System from Applied Natural Sciences was deployed at the site. System is designed to reach groundwater 30 feet below ground surface (bgs).
-- In the 317/319 Area, approximately 800 trees were planted (approximately 600 hybrid poplars and 200 hybrid willows).
-- In addition, the 317 Area French Drain area was seeded with a mix of legumes and grasses to minimize water infiltration and to stabilize the soil.
-- Operational period for the phytoremediation treatment will last for 20 years. Afterwards the trees will be harvested, chipped, and used as landscaping material.

Cleanup Authority:
RCRA Corrective Action

SITE Demonstration Contact:
Steven Rock
National Risk Management Research Laboratory
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
5995 Center Hill Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45224
Tel: (513) 569-7149
Fax: (513) 569-7879

ANL-E Phytotechnolgoy System Contacts:
M. Cristina Negri
Argonne National Laboratory
9700 South Cass Avenue
Building 362
Argonne, IL 60439
Tel: 630-252-9662

James Wozniak
Argonne National Laboratory
9700 South Cass Avenue
Building 331
Argonne, IL 60439
Tel: 630-252-6306

SITE Program Contact:
Annette Gatchett
National Risk Management Research Laboratory
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
26 West Martin Luther King Drive
Cincinnati, OH 45268
Tel: (513) 569-7697

317 Area

-- Volatile-halogenated compounds: carbon tetrachloride (maximum of 54,000 µg/kg); chloroform (maximum of 21,000 µg/kg); PCE (maximum of 190,000 µg/kg); TCE (maximum of 47,000 µg/kg).
-- Volatile-nonhalogenated compounds: benzene (maximum of 3,200 µg/kg); 4-methyl-2-pentanone (maximum of 78,000 µg/kg).

French Drain Groundwater:
-- Volatile-halogenated compounds: chloroform (maximum of 380 µg/L); PCE (maximum of 50,000 µg/L); TCE (maximum of 8,600 µg/L).

Fence-line Groundwater:
-- Volatile-halogenated compounds: carbon tetrachloride (maximum of 8 µg/L); chloroform (maximum of 4 µg/L); methylene chloride (maximum of 14 µg/L); TCE (maximum of 6 µg/L); 1,2-DCE (maximum of 6 µg/L).

319 Area

Landfill Groundwater:
-- Tritium (maximum of 233,000 pCi/L)
-- Volatile-halogenated compounds: cis-1,2-DCE (maximum of 240 µg/L); TCE (maximum of 24 µg/L); vinyl chloride (maximum of 5 µg/L).

Fence-Line Groundwater:
-- Volatile-halogenated compounds: TCE (maximum of 5 µg/L).

Waste Source:
Solid and liquid waste disposed at the site from various laboratory activities

Type/Quantity of Media Treated:
Soil and groundwater up to 30 ft bgs

Purpose/Significance of Application:
The objectives of the project are to:
-- Hydraulically contain the VOCs and tritium plumes south of the 317 Area French Drain and 319 Area Landfill.
-- Continue the remediation of residual VOCs within the 317 Area French Drain.
-- Minimize water infiltration into the 317 Area French Drain soils and stabilize the surface to prevent erosion, runoff, and downstream sedimentation.
-- Protect downgradient surface and groundwater by hydraulically containing the contaminated plume.

Regulatory Requirements/Cleanup Goals:
Specific contaminant remediation goals are:

317 Area VOC concentrations:
-- French Drain Soil (µg/kg): benzene (80); carbon tetrachloride (1,024); chloroform (1,670); PCE (152); TCE (80); 4-methyl-2-pentanone (28,200).
-- French Drain Groundwater (µg/L): chloroform (211); PCE (316); TCE (127).
-- Fence-line Groundwater (µg/L): carbon tetrachloride (5); chloroform (0.02); methylene chloride (5); TCE (5); 1,2-DCE (5).

319 Area Tritium/VOC concentrations:
-- Landfill Groundwater (µg/L or pCi/L): cis-1,2-DCE (70); TCE (5); vinyl chloride (2); tritium (20,000).
-- Fence-Line Groundwater (µg/L): TCE (5)

The phytoremediation technology deployed at the site is ongoing and was evaluated after three growing seasons. The effectiveness of the various plantings was monitored directly through groundwater and soil measurement and samples, as well as indirectly via plant tissue analysis, microbial surveys, geochemical analysis, soil moisture probes, and sap flow monitoring. Groundwater chemical data indicated decreasing concentrations of target VOCs and increasing concentrations of degradation byproducts. Tissue analysis of willows growing at the source area indicated that TCE and PCE were being taken up by the trees and that a portion of the transported contaminants were being degraded in the leaves. TCE and PCE and their degradation byproducts were seen at nearly all groundwater wells throughout the study area, implying that microbial attenuation of some form was occurring.

Cost Factors:
The following conclusions have been drawn based upon the information provided by the Argonne National Laboratory-East:
-- The total project cost, which included designing, installing and maintaining the system for the first four years (1999-2002), was $2,382,632.
-- The total estimated treatment cost over 20 years of the project is $4,592,632.

The 317/319 Area at the Argonne National Laboratory – East (ANL-E) is located on the far southern end of the ANL-E site, immediately adjacent to the DuPage County Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve, an area used for public recreation and as a nature reserve. It covers a surface area of approximately five acres and encompasses several sites used in the past to dispose of solid and liquid waste from various laboratory activities. Releases from the disposal of waste have contaminated the soil and groundwater with VOCs and low levels of tritium. Several interim actions have been implemented at the site in the past to reduce the VOC and tritium releases from this area; however, additional remedial actions are ongoing to further restore the site.

Starting in June 1999, ANL-E planted over 800 hybrid poplars and hybrid willows and a supplemental ground cover of herbaceous plants in the 317/319 Area. Earlier in 1999, EPA expressed an interest in participating with DOE in this study and subsequently included it as a demonstration project under the National Risk Management Research Laboratory (NRMRL) Superfund Innovative Technology Evaluation (SITE) program. ANL-E anticipates operating the phytoremediation system for 20 years. The phytoremediation technologies implemented at ANL-E are intended to eventually replace the existing pump-and-treat system. The project has so far has demonstrated success in decreasing target VOC concentrations and increasing concentrations of degradation byproducts and absorbing TCE and PCE into the plant tissue.