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Distribution of chlorinated volatile organic compounds and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in groundwater and surface water at the former Naval Air Warfare Center, West Trenton, New Jersey, 2018

June 5, 2023

Groundwater wells and surface-water storm sewers contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) at the former Naval Air Warfare Center (NAWC) site in West Trenton, New Jersey were sampled in 2018 as part of the Navy’s long-term monitoring program. Trichloroethene (TCE), cis-1,2-dichloroethene (cisDCE), and vinyl chloride concentrations were plotted in map view and selected cross sections to elucidate the vertical and horizontal extent and distribution of contamination, along with a tabular comparison between 2018 and previous analytical results. The 2018 data showed that the areas of VOC contamination (>1 microgram per liter) decreased slightly on the north and east sides of the NAWC site from previous sampling dates; these decreases are attributed to the influence of the pump-and-treat system, natural attenuation processes, and various engineered bioaugmentation experiments that have occurred onsite. Off-site groundwater samples indicate the VOC contaminated groundwater is likely hydraulically constrained by the pump-and-treat system and appears to not be moving offsite to the south and west of NAWC. Only one offsite well, 50BR, located along the eastern margin of the site, was found to have detectable TCE and cisDCE concentrations, indicating that VOC contamination continues to migrate a short distance offsite to the east. Detectable VOC contamination was found in wells as deep as 200 and 221 feet on both the east and west sides of the NAWC site. Comparisons of present-day data to data from past sampling efforts indicate that TCE concentrations in most wells have decreased slowly over time.

Results from surface-water samples indicate that VOCs enter surface water predominantly through the West Ditch drainage system. Concentrations and fluxes of VOCs are higher when groundwater levels are higher, indicating contaminated groundwater discharges into the surface water system. Higher VOC concentrations at the Interceptor site relative to other sites in the West Ditch indicate the contamination in the West Ditch system is likely caused by contaminated groundwater discharging to the West Ditch storm sewer near manhole MH-140 when water table levels are high.

The pump-and-treat extraction wells at the former NAWC site were sampled for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in 2018. The suite of reported PFAS include perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorononanoic acid, and perfluorobutane sulfonate. Concentrations were plotted in map view to determine the areal extent of the PFAS contamination at the site. Extraction well 48BR sampled on the eastern half of the site was found to have PFOS and PFOA concentrations greater than the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Drinking Water maximum contaminant levels (MCLs), which is consistent with the distribution of highest PFAS concentrations in surface water in the OF-4 storm sewer system that drains that area, as well as previously collected PFAS concentrations in monitoring wells. On the western half of the site, the extraction well 08BR sample exceeded MCLs for PFOA and PFOS and the extraction well 22BR sample exceeded the MCL for PFOA, but samples from all other extraction wells were below the MCLs or other criteria for all PFAS analyzed. Concentrations of PFOA exceeded concentrations of PFOS on the west side of NAWC in both groundwater and surface water, which contrasts with the conditions on the east side of NAWC where PFOS concentrations exceeded PFOA concentrations. However, this observation was based on a limited number of samples on the west side of NAWC from 2018 and previous years, so more PFAS sampling is needed on the west side to assess this further.

Publication Year 2023
Title Distribution of chlorinated volatile organic compounds and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in groundwater and surface water at the former Naval Air Warfare Center, West Trenton, New Jersey, 2018
DOI 10.3133/ofr20231022
Authors Alex R. Fiore, Thomas E. Imbrigiotta, Timothy P. Wilson
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2023-1022
Index ID ofr20231022
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization New Jersey Water Science Center