Reducing leachable petroleum hydrocarbon concentration in weathered fuel oil contaminated soil by chemical oxidation with hydrogen peroxide

  • E. Romero-Frasca
  • R. H. AdamsEmail author
  • V. I. Domínguez-Rodríguez
Original Paper


Number 6 fuel oil is one of the most used energy sources for electricity generation. However, leaks can contaminate soil and also groundwater due to leaching. At old sites, the oil may have low toxicity but still contaminate groundwater with foul-tasting compounds even at low concentrations. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of applying H2O2 to reduce the leaching potential of a fuel oil contaminated soil. A silt-loam soil was collected from a contaminated thermal-electric plant with a hydrocarbon concentration of 3.2% in soil producing 4.3 mg/l in leachate. Hydrogen peroxide was applied (0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.6, 1.2% dry weight basis), and petroleum hydrocarbons were measured in soil and leachate pre- and post-treatment (72 h). At first, the soil and leachate concentrations diminished linearly (24.4 and 27.3% in soil and leachate, respectively). This was followed by a phase in which the concentration in leachate diminished greatly (75.8%) although the concentration in soil was reduced only moderately (15.1%). Overall, hydrocarbons in leachates were reduced 82.4% even though concentrations in soil were only reduced 35.8%. Correlation analysis showed that at only 1.0% w/w H2O2 a concentration of petroleum hydrocarbons in leachate safe for human consumption (≤ 1 mg/l) could be obtained even with a final hydrocarbon concentration in soil > 2%. Thus, this study presents an alternative strategy for remediation of fuel oil contaminated soils in urban environments that protects water sources by focusing on contamination in leachates, without spending extra financial resources to reduce the hydrocarbon concentration in low-toxicity soil.


Chemical oxidation Groundwater Leaching potential Remediation Treatment 



We would like to thank the non-profit organization Centro de Investigación Balam-Europeo, A.C. for economic support for this project (Project No. CIB-2016-001), as well as Jorge Cano, Rubén Viornery and Analleli Romero for logistical support.


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Copyright information

© Islamic Azad University (IAU) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Romero-Frasca
    • 1
  • R. H. Adams
    • 1
    Email author
  • V. I. Domínguez-Rodríguez
    • 1
  1. 1.División Académica de Ciencia BiológicasUniversidad Juárez Autónoma de TabascoVillahermosaMexico

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