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Technical Review and Modeling for Remediation of a Jet Fuel Release from Kirtland Air Force Base

Client: Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Challenge. Protect a municipal water supply from being impacted by one of the largest jet fuel releases in the U.S.

Solution. INTERA has provided technical review of activities carried out by Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB) to address a large jet fuel release that threatens Albuquerque’s most productive water supply well field. Estimates of from 2 to 4 million gallons of jet fuel has contaminated the 500-foot-thick vadose zone and underlying aquifer. Contamination includes LNAPL in the vadose zone and aquifer and dissolved-phase plumes, the largest of which contains ethylene dibromide (EDB) and is migrating toward the City’s Ridge Crest well field. INTERA reviewed all work plan and design documents, including those for characterization of the vadose zone, the LNAPL lens near the water table, and the dissolved phase plumes; interim containment designs using soil vapor extraction and dissolved phase capture; aquifer testing plans; well design; and sampling protocols and strategies. After each review, INTERA provided detailed comments and recommendations to ABCWUA with the focus on improving the scientific defensibility, cost-efficiency, and effectiveness of the proposed activities and designs. As part of evaluating the dissolved phase capture, extraction, and treatment containment option, INTERA developed a groundwater flow and contaminant transport model. Using analytical element methods, extraction and treatment of the dissolved-phase plume was assessed considering the number, location (vertically and horizontally), and pumping rate of wells placed downgradient of the leading edge of the plume. Results of the modeling provided the Water Authority and other agencies with an independent evaluation of potential remediation schemes for comparison to those being provided by KAFB’s consultants.