Groundwater solvent cleanup will use cheese whey and veggie oil to feed natural bacteria

Cleanup Operating Unit 2B at east entry to proposed Town Center - Alameda Point.    Graphics by Alameda Point Environmental Report.
Cleanup Operating Unit 2B at east entry to proposed Town Center – Alameda Point. Graphics by Alameda Point Environmental Report.

A Navy contractor will be cleaning up groundwater in part of the Town Center area next to the Seaplane Lagoon by injecting a solution of cheese whey, emulsified vegetable oil and water into nearly 200 wells that go down between 30 and 40 feet. The whey and vegetable oil will cause natural bacteria to flourish that will feed on the toxic trichloroethene (TCE) solvent causing it to break down.

According to the Navy, this type of food-stimulated bacterial bioremediation is common. The cheese whey is similar to the powdered whey products found in grocery stores. It will be delivered to the site already diluted in water. A hose will be connected to a fire hydrant and hooked to a metering device that will mix the whey and oil solution with municipal water as it is pumped into the wellheads.

The work is expected to begin in 2015, with periodic visits and testing until 2020. The first year of operation the contractor will make two visits of 35 days each. During each of these work periods they will inject 246,000 gallons of whey, oil, and water solution into the ground, allowing gravity to disperse the liquid.

The goal of the cleanup is to minimize the potential for hazardous vapors entering buildings, and chemicals migrating into the Seaplane Lagoon. TCE is an industrial solvent used to degrease metal parts. It was heavily used at aircraft and ship engine repair facilities on the site. A leak from a rail car is believed to be one of the major sources of the plume.

The 33-acre cleanup area is immediately to the south of the Navy jet on West Atlantic Avenue at the east entry to Alameda Point near Main Street. It is within the 150 acres of the Town Center that the city is seeking to develop in the near future.  In April, the city council sent out requests seeking qualified developers interested in residential and commercial projects. The cheese and veggie oil cleanup area will not be transferred to the city until at least 2020 when cleanup has been certified to have met its goals.

Cleanup of fuel in groundwater ended about four years ago at an old fuel distribution point on the north side of the jet monument.

Below is an audio and image presentation from the Alameda Point Restoration Advisory Board meeting on May 8, 2014.

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One of the high contamination "hot spots" that will get extra treatment to cleanup trichlorethene solvent in groundwater 30 to 40 feet deep.
One of the high contamination “hot spots” that will get extra treatment to cleanup trichloroethene solvent in groundwater 30 to 40 feet deep.
Fenced area is where testing was conducted.  This is one of the hot spot areas that will get extra attention to clean up trichloroethene in groundwater.
Fenced area is where testing was conducted. This is one of the hot spot areas that will get extra attention to clean up trichloroethene in groundwater.
Groundwater cleanup area on OU-2B.  Cleanup will not be completed until 2020.  Looking west with maritime ships in background in Seaplane Lagoon.
Groundwater cleanup area on OU-2B. Cleanup will not be completed until 2020. Looking west with maritime ships in background in Seaplane Lagoon.

Author: richard94501

My blog is Alameda Point Environmental Report covering environmental issues from wildlife to cleanup at the former Navy base in Alameda now called Alameda Point. Articles on my blog are frequently printed in the Alameda Sun newspaper. I also host a Twitter site and a Flickr photo site. I hope you find my stories and photos of interest. Richard Bangert Alameda, California

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