Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | November 30, 2009

Kentucky environmental lawyer Sanders asks, “what is a LNAPL and why is it so expensive to remove from soil or groundwater?”

Did you know that light non-aqueous phase liquids (LNAPLs) are organic liquids such as gasoline, diesel, and other petroleum hydrocarbon products that are immiscible with water and less dense than water. That means LNAPLs are floaters, and often cause a sheen on surface of water, including groundwater samples. 

LNAPLs are important because they are present in the subsurface at thousands of remediation sites across the country, including many sites in Kentucky.  LNAPLs are frequently a focus of assessment and remediation efforts, especially where organic chemicals are the constituents of concern in soil or groundwater.  

It is extremely time consuming and highly expensive to clean up groundwater or soil contaminated with LNAPLs. Therefore, a sound scientific understanding of LNAPLs is necessary to effectively characterize and assess LNAPL conditions and potential risks, as well as to evaluate potential remedial technologies or alternatives.

Pump and treat is no longer EPA’s preferred method removing LNAPLs from groundwater.  Watch for more information on LNAPL remediation trends in this column in the future.

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