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Assessment of Petroleum and Related Pollution in Groundwater

As part of a large-scale litigation project, Abt Associates’ staff performed detailed evaluations of the environmental petroleum contamination in groundwater in Philadelphia on behalf of the U.S. government.

Our work examined rates and directions of free petroleum product migration from potential source areas and along the water table via interconnected sand and gravel channels. We used field data and numerical modeling to evaluate pollution from petrochemical constituents such as benzene, which dissolve from the petroleum product and migrate with groundwater.

Abt staff led a chemical investigation of the spilled petroleum product. We used forensic chemistry and petroleum fingerprinting techniques to identify the specific composition, age, and weathering of the petroleum and to determine likely sources.

The work involved extensive field collections of the product from groundwater and soils and analysis using both modern forensic chemistry techniques and a battery of older petroleum refinery intermediate and product specification tests. We also conducted detailed research on the physical and chemical characteristics of a variety of natural and manufactured petroleum products and intermediates to compare to the characteristics of the material.
North America