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PFOA-related groundwater modeling

PFOA-related groundwater modeling
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Saint Paul, Minnesota

improving existing treatment systems for PFOA removal

In 2005, Barr helped the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) determine how to best address a chemical known as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a perfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS), in the groundwater in Lake Elmo. When PFOA was discovered in residential wells in 2004, Barr began a study of its movement in the groundwater and options for managing it, including treatment and removal.

The PFOA was leaking from an unlined landfill containing waste from former manufacturing operations that has been closed since 1975. A groundwater-treatment system currently in place pumps water from the ground downgradient of the landfill and removes volatile organic compounds but essentially has no effect on PFOA.

Barr began the study by performing groundwater-flow modeling and contaminant-transport modeling to evaluate the current groundwater-capture system, recommend improvements to it, and determine where and how fast the PFOA plume was traveling. We then conducted a feasibility study to assess what changes could be made to the treatment systems to remove PFOA from the groundwater. Barr provided a final feasibility-study report to the MPCA, which the MPCA used to decide how to address the contamination.

landfill PFAS