Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
How do you Clean Up Gasoline Spills Naturally?
By letting microorganisms that live underground do the work for you.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with the
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control have
developed a methodology for cleaning up fuel spill sites naturally. The
methodology is explained in a report entitled Methodology
for Applying Monitored Natural Attenuation to Petroleum Hydrocarbon-Contaminated
Ground-Water Systems with Examples from South Carolina. Natural attenuation
is the combination of the degradation, adsorption, and dilution of contaminants
that can occur naturally in the subsurface given the right conditions.
Highlights of the report are:
- A diskette with a computer natural-attenuation screening tool is included
with the report. The interactive tool allows users to input site data
and the tool then estimates how the site will respond to the contamination.
When used in conjunction with other criteria the screening tool can
help environmental professionals make informed decisions about the viability
of monitored natural attenuation as a remediation strategy.
- The methodology also covers the natural attenuation of methyl
tert-butyl ether (MTBE), an additive to oxygenated
gasoline. MTBE does not degrade as well as other components in gasoline
and has been problematic at many spill sites.
- Two step-by-step examples of the application of the methodology at
gasoline stations with leaking underground storage tanks in Laurens
and Charleston, South Carolina, are presented in the report. Source
area and plume delineation, data-collection methods, site characterization,
and biodegradation assessment methods are covered in the examples.
USGS Information on Natural Attenuation
on Natural Attenuation
Listing of Toxics Program Natural Attenuation Remediation-Related Activities
Listing of Other USGS Natural Attenuation Remediation-Related Activities
Crude Oil Contamination in the Shallow Subsurface
Processes Affecting the Natural Attenuation of Fuels in Ground Water
Fate of Landfill Leachate
Processes that Control the Natural Attenuation of Chlorinated Solvents