Bioremediation Potential of Perchlorate Contaminated Deep Vadose Zone

H. Gal, Z. Ronen, N. Weisbrod, O. Dahan, R. Nativ

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Widespread perchlorate contamination was found in the vadose zone near a plant that manufactures ammonium perchlorate above the coastal aquifer of Israel in Ramat Hasharon. As part of the plant's operations, untreated industrial wastewater was disposed of for over 30 years in unlined wastewater ponds and nearby washes, causing contamination of the unsaturated zone (up to 2200 mg kg-1 sediment at a depth of 20 m) and the groundwater below it (up to 300 mg L-1). In this study, we examined the potential for microbial metabolism of perchlorate reduction in the contaminated deep vadose zone profile by native microbial communities. Microbial reduction of perchlorate was found in three of the four sediment samples taken from different depths. The sediments taken from 1m (shallowest) and 35 m (deepest- close to the water table) showed the fastest degradation rates, while the sediment taken from 15 m showed the slowest rate. No perchlorate reduction was observed in the sediment taken from 20 m, where perchlorate concentrations were highest. These results were correlated to the viable microorganism counts in the profile. In experiments in which the effect of nitrate was examined, the lag time for perchlorate degradation was found to be inversely correlated to the initial nitrate concentration, while the perchlorate-reduction rates were faster in treatments with higher initial nitrate concentrations. We found no perchlorate degradation as long as nitrate was present in the system: perchlorate reduction was initiated only after all of the nitrate had been reduced. Nitrate-reduction rates were correlated to the initial nitrate concentrations and no lag period was observed. Nitrite was temporarily accumulated during nitrate reduction and was totally reduced, like nitrate, after 4 days. Count of viable microbial communities as well as PCR analysis of the chlorite dismutase gene in the native microbial population exposed to high concentrations of perchlorate (10,000-20,000mg L-1) showed no toxicity effect on the microorganisms, and even promotion of the perchlorate-reducing bacteria. Natural organic matter(NOM) in sediments taken from ground surface could be used as carbon and energy sources for perchlorate-reducing bacteria. The average perchlorate-reduction rate using NOM as the carbon source was 0.45 mgday-1, whereas when acetate was used as the carbon source, it was 7.2 mgday-1.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAmerican Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2007
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2007
EventAGU Fall Meeting 2007 - San Francisco, United States
Duration: 10 Dec 200714 Dec 2012


ConferenceAGU Fall Meeting 2007
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco


  • 0418 Bioremediation
  • 0478 Pollution: urban
  • regional and global (0345
  • 4251)
  • 1875 Vadose zone


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