Remediation Technologies Screening Matrix, Version 4.0 4.17 Dehalogenation
(Ex Situ Soil Remediation Technology)
  Description Synonyms Applicability Limitations Site Information Points of Contact
Data Needs Performance Cost References Vendor Info. Health & Safety
Table of Contents
Technology>>Soil, Sediment, Bedrock and Sludge

>>3.5 Ex Situ Physical/Chemical Treatment (assuming excavation)

      >>4.17 Dehalogenation
Introduction>> Reagents are added to soils contaminated with halogenated organics. The dehalogenation process is achieved by either the replacement of the halogen molecules or the decomposition and partial volatilization of the contaminants.


Figure 4-17a:
Typical BCD Dehalogenation Process

Figure 4-17b:
Typical APEG Dehalogenation Process

Contaminated soil is screened, processed with a crusher and pug mill, and mixed with reagents. The mixture is heated in a reactor. The dehalogenation process is achieved by either the replacement of the halogen molecules or the decomposition and partial volatilization of the contaminants.

Base-catalyzed Decomposition (BCD)

Base-catalyzed decomposition (BCD) process was developed by EPA's Risk Reduction Engineering Laboratory (RREL), in cooperation with the Naval Facilities Engineering Services Center (NFESC) to remediate soils and sediments contaminated with chlorinated organic compounds, especially PCBs, dioxins, and furans. Contaminated soil is screened, processed with a crusher and pug mill, and mixed with sodium bicarbonate. The mixture is heated to above 330 C (630F) in a reactor to partially decompose and volatilize the contaminants. The volatilized contaminants are captured, condensed, and treated separately.

Glycolate/Alkaline Polyethylene Glycol (APEG)

Glycolate is a full-scale technology in which an alkaline polyethylene glycol (APEG) reagent is used. Potassium polyethylene glycol (KPEG) is the most common APEG reagent. Contaminated soils and the reagent are mixed and heated in a treatment vessel. In the APEG process, the reaction causes the polyethylene glycol to replace halogen molecules and render the compound nonhazardous or less toxic. The reagent (APEG) dehalogenates the pollutant to form a glycol ether and/or a hydroxylated compound and an alkali metal salt, which are water-soluble byproducts. Dehalogenation (APEG/KPEG) is generally considered a stand alone technology; however, it can be used in combination with other technologies. Treatment of the wastewater generated by the process may include chemical oxidation, biodegradation, carbon adsorption, or precipitation.

Dehalogenation is normally a short- to medium-term process. The contaminant is partially decomposed rather than being transferred to another medium.

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DSERTS Code: N14 (Dehalogenation).

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The target contaminant groups for dehalogenation treatment are halogenated SVOCs and pesticides. APEG dehalogenation is one of the few processes available other than incineration that has been successfully field tested in treating PCBs.The technology can be used but may be less effective against selected halogenated VOCs. The technology is amenable to small-scale applications. The BCD can be also used to treat halogenated VOCs but will generally be more expensive than other alternative technologies.

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Factors that may limit the applicability and effectiveness of the process include:
  • High clay and moisture content will increase treatment costs.
  • The APEG/KPEG technology is generally not cost-effective for large waste volumes.
  • Concentrations of chlorinated organics greater than 5% require large volumes of reagent.
  • With the BCD process, capture and treatment of residuals (volatilized contaminants captured, dust, and other condensates) may be difficult, especially when the soil contains high levels of fines and moisture.

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Data Needs:

A detailed discussion of these data elements is provided in Subsection 2.2.1 (Data Requirements for Soil, Sediment, and Sludge). Treatability tests should be conducted to identify parameters such as water, alkaline metals, and humus content in the soils; the presence of multiple phases; and total organic halides that could affect processing time and cost.

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Performance Data:

NFESC and EPA have been jointly developing the BCD process since 1990. Data from the Koppers Superfund site in North Carolina are inconclusive regarding technology performance because of analytical difficulties. There have been no commercial applications of this technology to date. The BCD process has received approval by EPA's Office of Toxic Substances under the Toxic Substances Control Act for PCB treatment. Complete design information is available from NFESC, formerly NCEL and NEESA. Predeployment testing was completed at Naval Communications Station Stockton in November 1991. The research, development, testing, and evaluation stages were planned for Guam during the first two quarters of FY93. A successful test run with 15 tons of PCB soil was conducted in February 1994.

Glycolate process has been used to successfully treat contaminant concentrations of PCBs from less than 2 ppm to reportedly as high as 45,000 ppm. This technology has received approval from the EPA's Office of Toxic Substances under the Toxic Substances Control Act for PCB treatment.

The APEG process has been selected for cleanup of PCB-contaminated soils at three Superfund sites: Wide Beach in Erie County, New York (September 1985); Re-Solve in Massachusetts (September 1987); and Sol Lynn in Texas (March 1988).

This technology uses standard equipment. The reaction vessel must be equipped to mix and heat the soil and reagents. A detailed engineering design for a continuous feed, full-scale PCB treatment system for use in Guam is currently being completed. It is estimated that a full-scale system can be fabricated and placed in operation in 6 to 12 months.

The concentrations of PCBs that have been treated are reported to be as high as 45,000 ppm. Concentrations were reduced to less than 2 ppm per individual PCB congener. PCDDs and PCDFs have been treated to nondetectable levels at part per trillion sensitivity. The process has successfully destroyed PCDDs and PCDFs contained in contaminated pentachlorophenol oil. For a contaminated activated carbon matrix, direct treatment was less effective, and the reduction of PCDDs/PCDFs to concentrations less than 1 ppb was better achieved by first extracting the carbon matrix with a solvent and then treating the extract.

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The cost for full-scale operation is estimated to be in a range of $220 to $550 per metric ton ($200 to $500 per ton) and does not include excavation, refilling, residue disposal, or analytical costs. Factors such as high clay or moisture content may raise the treatment cost slightly.

Additional cost information can be found in the Hazardous, Toxic, and Radioactive Wastes (HTRW) Historical Cost Analysis System (HCAS) developed by Environmental Historical Cost Committee of Interagency Cost Estimation Group.

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Treatment Technologies for Site Cleanup: Annual Status Report (ASR), Tenth Edition, EPA 542-R-01-004

Innovative Remediation Technologies:  Field Scale Demonstration Project in North America, 2nd Edition

Abstracts of Remediation Case Studies, Volume 4,  June, 2000, EPA 542-R-00-006

Guide to Documenting and Managing Cost and Performance Information for Remediation Projects - Revised Version, October, 1998, EPA 542-B-98-007

California Base Closure Environmental Committee (CBCEC), 1994. Treatment Technologies Applications Matrix for Base Closure Activities, Revision 1, Technology Matching Process Action Team, November, 1994.

EPA, 1987. Catalytic Dehydrohalogenation: A Chemical Destruction Method for Halogenated Organics, Project Summary, EPA/600/52-86/113.

EPA, 1989. Innovative Technology - Glycolate Dehalogenation, EPA, OSWER, Washington, DC, Directive 9200 5-254FS.

EPA, 1990. Chemical Dehalogenation Treatment: APEG Treatment, Engineering Bulletin, EPA, OERR and ORD, Washington, DC, EPA/540/2-90/015.

EPA, 1990. Reductive Dehalogenation of Organic Contaminants in Soils and Ground Water , EPA/540/4-90/054.

EPA, 1990. Treating Chlorinated Wastes with the KPEG Process, Project Summary, EPA RREL, Cincinnati, OH, EPA/600/S2-90/026.

EPA, 1991. BCD: An EPA-Patented Process for Detoxifying Chlorinated Wastes, EPA, ORD.

EPA, 1992. A Citizen's Guide to Glycolate Dehalogenation, EPA, OSWER, Washington, DC, EPA/542/F-92/005.

EPA, 1996. A Citizen's Guide to Chemical Dehalogenation, EPA/542/F-96/004.

Federal Remediation Technologies Roundtable, 1995. Remediation Case Studies: Thermal Desorption, Soil Washing, and In Situ Vitrification, EPA/542/R-95/005.

NCEL, 1990. Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis for the Removal and Treatment of PCB-Contaminated Soils at Building 3000 Site PWC Guam.

NEESA and NCEL, August 1991. Chemical Dehalogenation Treatment: Base-Catalyzed Decomposition Process, Technical Data Sheet.

NEESA and NCEL, July 1992. Chemical Dehalogenation Treatment: Base-Catalyzed Decomposition Process, Technical Data Sheet.

Taylor, M.L., et al. (PEI Associates), 1989. Comprehensive Report on the KPEG Process for Treating Chlorinated Wastes, EPA Contract No. 68-03-3413, EPA RREL, Cincinnati, OH.

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Site Information:

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Points of Contact:

General FRTR Agency Contacts

Technology Specific Web Sites:

Government Web Sites

Non Government Web Sites

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Vendor Information:

A list of vendors offering Ex Situ Physical/Chemical Soil Treatment is available from EPA REACH IT which combines information from three established EPA databases, the Vendor Information System for Innovative Treatment Technologies (VISITT), the Vendor Field Analytical and Characterization Technologies System (Vendor FACTS), and the Innovative Treatment Technologies (ITT), to give users access to comprehensive information about treatment and characterization technologies and their applications.

Government Disclaimer

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Health and Safety:

Hazard Analysis

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