BBC News:
UNH Researchers Demonstrate Techniques for
Treating Contaminated Bedrock Water and Announce Major Grant for MTBE Research

Congressman John E. Sununu on hand for the event


When: Thursday, August 30, 9:30 a.m.

Where: Town Hall, Durham, and Pease Tradeport Site #32, Portsmouth.


1) MTBE Clean-Up Initiative Announced: Town Hall, Durham (9:30-10 am) The University of New Hampshire's Bedrock Bioremediation Center (BBC), together with Congressman John E. Sununu and USEPA and NHDES officials, will announce a major MTBE research initiative. Project participants will be available for media interviews at this time.

2) Demonstration of Bioremediation Techniques: Pease (10:25-11:25 am) The bedrock at Site #32 at Pease Tradeport is contaminated with chlorinated solvents. This portion of the event includes technical presentations on progress to date and lessons learned from the BBC's work at the research site. Photo opportunities at this site will include demonstration of new bioremediation technology--some of it never before used in this country.


*UNH's Bedrock Bioremediation Center (BBC) is the major U.S. center for issues relating to remediation and monitoring of contaminated water in bedrock. The center develops and tests ways to accelerate the naturally occurring (but very slow) process by which bacteria convert organic pollutants into harmless by-products.

*Researchers from the US Geological Service already are working with BBC researchers in cooperation with the US Air Force and the NH Department of Environmental Services. In the coming year, there will be funding to help researchers from universities, governmental agencies, and industry to work at the site.


Congressman Sununu's initiative in promoting engineered bioremediation as a clean-up technology has been integral to the work of the BBC. Sununu has secured a total of $3 million for the UNH Bedrock Bioremediation Center: $ 800,000 in 1999; $ 800,000 in 2000; and $1,400,000 in 2001.

The Problem:

*Most underground pollution is caused by two types of organics-- chlorinated solvents and petroleum products. Pease Site 32 has bedrock contaminated by chlorinated solvents. A second site to be opened this fall has bedrock contaminated by gasoline and the fuel additive MTBE. The first two grants funded research activities at Site #32. The third grant, being announced at the ceremony, will fund work at the new site (petroleum/MTBE contaminants) and continue work at Site #32 (chlorinated contaminants).

*Hundreds of sites in New Hampshire have groundwater contaminated with petroleum products and MTBE. In fact, the problem is more pervasive than toxic waste sites because service stations and garages are located everywhere, and until recently, monitoring and maintenance of underground petroleum storage tanks was not standard practice.

*Pollution clean-up is so expensive that increased attention needs to be placed on developing and testing better and more cost-effective technologies. But actual use of those technologies has to be based on rigorous scientific evidence to verify that they work.

The Process:

*Developing the chlorinated solvent site was a two-year process. It involved drilling test wells with precise understanding of fracture patterns, water flows, and existing pollution. Tests were conducted to determine whether commonly-used collection procedures result in samples that reflect in situ conditions. Using newly developed technologies, including some from around the world, new protocols were developed for the work to ensure reliability and scientific credibility.

*Research activities at the chlorinated solvent site have focused largely on methodologies for characterizing bedrock geology and hydrology and monitoring contamination. Starting this year, the site will be used by UNH and outside researchers to evaluate ways to accelerate naturally occurring Bioremediation processes. Methods and standards for monitoring clean-up will also be developed to help regulators determine if the clean-up is successful. To make this judgment, regulators need to understand what is occurring naturally at a contaminated site and how to compare this to the results of remediation efforts.

For more information, contact Suki Casanave at 603-862-3102.

Press Packet:   Powerpoint file from August 30 Meeting (10.2 Mb)

Directions to Site:   http://www.unh.edu/civil-engineering/research/erg/bbc/pease_directions.html

Previous Funding History:   http://www.unh.edu/civil-engineering/research/erg/bbc/news


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