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In Situ Clay Formation: Evaluation of a Proposed New Technology for Stable Containment Barriers

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Rept. for 1998-2004

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Containment of chemical wastes in near-surface and repository environments is accomplished by designing engineered barriers to fluid flow. Containment barrier technologies such as clay liners, soilbentonite slurry walls, soilplastic walls artificially grouted sediments and soils, and colloidal gelling materials are intended to stop fluid transport and prevent plume migration. However, despite their effectiveness in the short-term, all of these barriers exhibit geochemical or geomechanical instability over the long-term resulting in degradation of the barrier and its ability to contain waste. No technologically practical or economically affordable technologies or methods exist at present for accomplishing total remediation, contaminant removal, or destruction-degradation in situ. A new type of containment barrier with a potentially broad range of environmental stability and longevity could result in significant cost-savings. This report documents a research program designed to establish the viability of a proposed new type of containment barrier derived from in situ precipitation of clays in the pore space of contaminated soils or sediments. The concept builds upon technologies that exist for colloidal or gel stabilization. Clays have the advantages of being geologically compatible with the near-surface environment and naturally sorptive for a range of contaminants, and further, the precipitation of clays could result in reduced permeability and hydraulic conductivity, and increased mechanical stability through cementation of soil particles. While limited success was achieved under certain controlled laboratory conditions, the results did not warrant continuation to the field stage for multiple reasons, and the research program was thus concluded with Phase 2.

Subject Categories:

  • Industrial Chemistry and Chemical Processing
  • Geology, Geochemistry and Mineralogy
  • Environmental Health and Safety

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