This special program allows to remediate the contamination by ammonium perchlorate (AMM-PCHL) thanks to the application of composting.
In addition, thanks to the addition of some natural elements, it is also possible to produce new energy from the waste pile in fermentation, so increasing the benefit for the affected facility.
According to one of the most important field studies (carried out by GeoSyntec and University of Toronto) it is possible to achieve very important results. In fact, the almost complete remediation of AMM-PCHL can be obtained.
The method is particularly useful when dealing with the risk of perchlorate infiltration to groundwater.
At the same time, it can be applied when dealing with the risk of stormwater runoff.
The process is quite simple and does not differ from the usual composting process.
However, some important preparation steps have to be taken into the greatest consideration.
First of all, the soil to be treated should be as follows: a silty clay soil (or even a simple silt soil), with a low permeability.
Under these circumstances, the method has been tested up to 4.200 mg/kg AMM-PCHL (hotspots).
This means that an accurate assessment has to be carried out before to start with the intervention.
For what concerns the composition of the waste, no special requirements are needed. The contaminated soil represents the matrix to be treated, with the addition of a “brown” and “green” natural wastes, just like in the case of any other composting process.
The pile has to be 5 feet high (152 cm).
In order to apply the method at best, it is strongly suggested to place two clean soil berms for an effective containment of the potential leachate (they have to be placed on the long sides – both – of the waste pile during its fermentation).
The distance between these berms has to be around 7 feet (213 cm).
If the situation needs it, a leachate collection vessel can be provided (but only in some cases). So, when present, a plastic bottom liner is required in order to make the leachate flowing to the vessel.
During the composting process, temperature and moisture have to be well controlled.
Finally, the preferred process is anaerobic, so the presence of a reflective/black plastic tarp cover is required to perform the method at best.
By doing that, an almost complete remediation of AMM-PCHL is expected in about 10 days (even less).
Anaerobic composting is a relatively low-temperature process, but if properly carried out it is possible to recover a good amount of new energy produced because of the anaerobic digestion of the wet feedstock by anaerobic bacteria.
In particular, the process is very similar to what occurs in landfills, so depending on the amount of the composting material a significant amount of new energy (methane) may be obtained.
However, if you want to know another effective solution to this issue able to produce new energy, try the “Military Cleanup Program PERCH-3” (which envisages the application of mushroom compost and phytoremediation – plants able to remove pollution from the ground).
Another very important aspect to remember is the following: anaerobic compost often releases harmful chemicals (such as amines). So, a very close control and monitoring of the process has to be carried out to avoid this unwanted effect.
A particular care has to be dedicated to the composition of the waste pile in fermentation to ensure the effectiveness of the method. In particular, it is highly recommended to avoid too much carbon rich materials such as dry leaves, sawdust and woody garden waste.
This program is definitely highly recommended to most weapons manufacturing facilities, as well as in any other area where pollution by AMM-PCHL can be found.
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