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OENG1039 LAND CONTAMINATION & GEOHAZARDS

EXAM 2015

SECTION A

Assessment and Management of Contaminated Land (20 marks)

Answer the following:

(a) What is meant by the term beneficial use in the context of land and
water contamination? (4 marks)

(b) What is the role of the Environmental Auditor (Contaminated Land)? (4


marks)

(c) Which national guideline is used when conducting site contamination


assessments in Australia? Briefly describe the major areas covered by
schedules B1 and B2 of the Measure (6 marks)

(d) List 3 remediation techniques for contaminated sites and specify the type
of contamination conditions that they would be most applicable to (6 marks)

SECTION B

Groundwater Chemistry & Landfill field module (40 marks)

1. Water A is groundwater which began as rainfall containing 0.1mmol/L of Na


and Cl. This rainwater underwent evapo-concentration by a factor of 7 during
recharge. In the unsaturated zone, the water also dissolved 1mmol of salt
(sodium chloride) per litre of water. As the water flowed through a clay layer, a
cation exchange reaction occurred, adding 0.5 meq/L of Ca2+ in the water in
place of sodium. Water A then mixed with Water B , which contains 0.25
mmol/L of Na and Cl, in the ratio 2 parts A:1 part B, to produce Water C.

a) Write a balanced reaction for the cation exchange occurring in the clay
layer (3 marks)

b) What are the Na and Cl concentrations of Water C? (5 marks)

2. What does a redox stability diagram show and how is it constructed? Use an
example of a contaminant with multiple oxidation states to illustrate. (4 marks)

3. The carbonate system has a fundamental influence on water chemistry.


Briefly discuss a) or b): (4 marks)

a) Describe the relationship between pH and speciation of dissolved inorganic


carbon in natural waters and explain what is meant by open and closed
systems with regard to CO2.

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b) What would be the total inorganic carbon (TIC) concentration expected in
water that is open to the atmosphere, with pH of 10? Assume the atmospheric
pressure of CO2 is 0.01 atm and that the equilibrium constants for the
dissolution and dissociation of CO2 in water are KCO2 = 10-1.5; K1 = 10-6.3 and
K2 = 10-10.3, respectively.

4. Explain what is meant by retardation factor in groundwater contaminant


transport, using a simple equation. Calculate the retardation factor for a case
where the adsorption of a contaminant to the aquifer is linearly related to the
contaminant concentration in a 1:1 relationship. (4 marks)

Landfill field module

1. Briefly discuss the most important factors that should be considered when
designing a new landfill, according to EPA Victorias Best Practice Guideline
for Design and Management of Landfills (8 marks)

2. Identify the two major issues which require management at most landfill sites,
and discuss how geological and hydrological characteristics interact with
these. Use examples from the field trip where possible. (6 + 6 = 12 marks)

SECTION C

Geohazards & Soil Science (40 marks)

Volcanoes and Slope Stability (12 marks)

1. A volcanic eruption can comprise many hazards including: landslides, air


blast, base surge and air fall tephra. Explain how air fall tephra differs from
the other volcanic hazards. Include reference to the role of local weather
conditions in your answer. (5 marks)

2. Slope geohazards are usually defined by the various mechanisms of slope


instability. Commonly occurring mechanisms include slumping, toppling, rock
fall and block sliding.

a) Illustrate one of the four slope stability mechanisms listed above (3 marks)

b) Explain two methods of slope stabilization or hazard reduction that could


be used for the example you chose in part a. (4 marks)

Land Salinity (12 marks)

1. Describe one mechanism by which land salinization develops. In your


description, illustrate the links between the water and salt balances in the
landscape. How might coal seam gas development in an area create a new
risk of land salinity? (6 marks)

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2. Describe two approaches to the prevention, management or remediation of
land salinity. These could be engineering or land and water management
approaches. (6 marks)

Soil Science (16 marks)

1. Explain how you would use the Hazard Quotient and Hazard Index to
characterise the risk of a site that contained a mixture of potential
contaminants in the soil. (5 marks)

2. The table below is extracted from the National Environment Protection


(Assessment of Site Contamination) Amendment Measure 2013 and shows
how the Added Contaminant Level (ACL) for nickel in an urban residential
area or public open space increases with the soil cation exchange capacity
(CEC).

CEC (cmolc/kg) 5 10 20 30 40 60

ACL Ni (mg/kg) 30 170 270 350 420 560

a) Use your understanding of bioavailability processes in soils to explain why


the Added Contaminant Level for nickel increases with the CEC of the
soil. (6 marks)

b) Explain what the term biomagnification means and how you can use the
n-octanol-water partition coefficient (Kow) to determine the
biomagnification potential of an organic chemical in soil. (5 marks)

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