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Remediation Technologies Screening Matrix, Version 4.0 4.4 Chemical Oxidation
(In 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

>>3.10 In Situ Physical/Chemical Treatment

      >>4.4 Chemical Oxidation
Introduction>> Oxidation chemically converts hazardous contaminants to non-hazardous or less toxic compounds that are more stable, less mobile, and/or inert. The oxidizing agents most commonly used are ozone, hydrogen peroxide, hypochlorites, chlorine, and chlorine dioxide.


Figure 4-4: Typical Chemical Oxidation System

The Chemical oxidants most commonly employed to date include peroxide, ozone, and permanganate. These oxidants have been able to cause the rapid and complete chemical destruction of many toxic organic chemicals; other organics are amenable to partial degradation as an aid to subsequent bioremediation. In general the oxidants have been capable of achieving high treatment efficiencies (e.g., > 90 percent) for unsaturated aliphatic (e.g., trichloroethylene [TCE]) and aromatic compounds (e.g., benzene), with very fast reaction rates (90 percent destruction in minutes). Field applications have clearly affirmed that matching the oxidant and in situ delivery system to the contaminants of concern (COCs) and the site conditions is the key to successful implementation and achieving performance goals.

Ozone addition

Ozone gas can oxidize contaminants directly or through the formation of hydroxyl radicals. Like peroxide, ozone reactions are most effective in systems with acidic pH. The oxidation reaction proceeds with extremely fast, pseudo first order kinetics. Due to ozone’s high reactivity and instability, O3 is produced onsite, and it requires closely spaced delivery points (e.g., air sparging wells). In situ decomposition of the ozone can lead to beneficial oxygenation and biostimulation.


Oxidation using liquid hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) in the presence of native or supplemental ferrous iron (Fe+2) produces Fenton’s Reagent which yields free hydroxyl radicals (OH-). These strong, nonspecific oxidants can rapidly degrade a variety of organic compounds. Fenton’s Reagent oxidation is most effective under very acidic pH (e.g., pH 2 to 4) and becomes ineffective under moderate to strongly alkaline conditions. The reactions are extremely rapid and follow second-order kinetics. 


The reaction stoichiometry of permanganate (typically provided as liquid or solid KMnO4, but also available in Na, Ca, or Mg salts) in natural systems is complex. Due to its multiple valence states and mineral forms, Mn can participate in numerous reactions. The reactions proceed at a somewhat slower rate than the previous two reactions, according to second order kinetics. Depending on pH, the reaction can include destruction by direct electron transfer or free radical advanced oxidation—permanganate reactions are effective over a pH range of 3.5 to 12.

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DSERTS Code: N13 (Chemical Reduction/Oxidation).

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The rate and extent of degradation of a target COC are dictated by the properties of the chemical itself and its susceptibility to oxidative degradation as well as the matrix conditions, most notably, pH, temperature, the concentration of oxidant, and the concentration of other oxidant-consuming substances such as natural organic matter and reduced minerals as well as carbonate and other free radical scavengers. Given the relatively indiscriminate and rapid rate of reaction of the oxidants with reduced substances, the method of delivery and distribution throughout a subsurface region is of paramount importance. Oxidant delivery systems often employ vertical or horizontal injection wells and sparge points with forced advection to rapidly move the oxidant into the subsurface. 

Permanganate is relatively more stable and relatively more persistent in the subsurface; as a result, it can migrate by diffusive processes. Consideration also must be given to the effects of oxidation on the system. All three oxidation reactions can decrease the pH if the system is not buffered effectively. Other potential oxidation-induced effects include: colloid genesis leading to reduced permeability; mobilization of redox-sensitive and exchangeable sorbed metals; possible formation of toxic byproducts; evolution of heat and gas; and biological perturbation

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The following factors may limit the applicability and effectiveness of chemcial oxidation include:

  •  Requirement for handling large quantities of hazardous oxidizing chemicals due to the oxidant demand of the target organic chemicals and the unproductive oxidant consumption of the formation.

  • Some COCs are resistant to oxidation.

  • There is a potential for process-induced detrimental effects. Further research and development is ongoing to advance the science and engineering of in situ chemical oxidation and to increase its overall cost effectivenes.

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Data Needs:

Engineering of in situ chemical oxidation must be done with due attention paid to reaction chemistry and transport processes. It is also critical that close attention be paid to worker training and safe handling of process chemicals as well as proper management of remediation wastes. The design and implementation process should rely on an integrated effort involving screening level characterization tests and reaction transport modeling, combined with treatability studies at the lab and field scale.

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Performance Data:

In situ chemical oxidation is a viable remediation technology for mass reduction in source areas as well as for plume treatment. The potential benefits of in situ oxidation include the rapid and extensive reactions with various COCs applicable to many bio-recalcitrant organics and subsurface environments. Also, in situ chemical oxidation can be tailored to a site and implemented with relatively simple, readily available equipment. Some potential limitations exist including the requirement for handling large quantities of hazardous oxidizing chemicals due to the oxidant demand of the target organic chemicals and the unproductive oxidant consumption of the formation; some COCs are resistant to oxidation; and there is a potential for process-induced detrimental effects. Further research and development is ongoing to advance the science and engineering of in situ chemical oxidation and to increase its overall cost effectiveness

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No costs figures are currently available.


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EPA, 2000.Ground Water Currents, December 2000, Issue No. 41: Current Issue: Interagency Demonstrations on DNAPL Conducted at Cape Canaveral 

EPA, 2000.Ground Water Currents, September 2000, Issue No. 37: Current Issue: In Situ Chemical Oxidation for Remediation of Contaminated Soil and Ground Water

MTBE Treatment Case Studies presented by the USEPA Office of Underground Storage Tanks.

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

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

Advanced Photochemical Oxidation - Abstract, EPA/625/R-98/004

EPA, 1988, Guidance for Conducting Remedial Investigations and Feasibility Studies under CERCLA, OSWER- 9355.3-01, Washington, DC

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Site Information:
  • Additional site information on the FRTR Website

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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 In 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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