Cost Optimization of DNAPL Source and Plume Remediation Under Uncertainty Using a Semi-Analytic Model

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Journal of Contaminant Hydrology


Dense non-aqueous phase liquid (DNAPL) spills represent a potential long-term source of aquifer contamination, and successful low-cost remediation may require a combination of both plume management and source treatment. In addition, substantial uncertainty exists in many of the parameters that control field-scale behavior of DNAPL sources and plumes. For these reasons, cost optimization of DNAPL cleanup needs to consider multiple treatment options and their associated costs while also gauging the influence of prediction uncertainty on expected costs. In this paper, we present a management methodology for field-scale DNAPL source and plume management under uncertainty. Using probabilistic methods, historical data and prior information are combined to produce a set of equally likely realizations of true field conditions (i.e., parameter sets). These parameter sets are then used in a simulation-optimization framework to produce DNAPL cleanup solutions that have the lowest possible expected net present value (ENPV) cost and that are suitably cautious in the presence of high uncertainty. For simulation, we utilize a fast-running semi-analytic field-scale model of DNAPL source and plume evolution that also approximates the effects of remedial actions. The degree of model prediction uncertainty is gauged using a restricted maximum likelihood method, which helps to produce suitably cautious remediation strategies. We test our methodology on a synthetic field-scale problem with multiple source architectures, for which source zone thermal treatment and electron donor injection are considered as remedial actions. The lowest cost solution found utilizes a combination of source and plume remediation methods, and is able to successfully meet remediation constraints for a majority of possible scenarios. Comparisons with deterministic optimization results show that not taking into account uncertainty can result in optimization strategies that are not aggressive enough and result in greater overall total cost. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


This research was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) Environmental Restoration Focus Area managed by Andrea Leeson under project ER-1611 entitled “Practical Cost Optimization of Characterization and Remediation Decisions at DNAPL sites with Consideration of Prediction Uncertainty.” Additional support was provided by the Stanford Center for Computational Earth and Environmental Science.