Chlorinated solvents such as trichloroethene (TCE) and tetrachloroethene (PCE) are widespread groundwater contaminants often released as dense nonaqueous phase liquids (DNAPLs).
These contaminants are difficult to remediate, particularly their source zones. This review summarizes the progress made in improving DNAPL source zone remediation over the past decade, and is structured to highlight the important practical lessons learned for improving DNAPL source zone remediation. Experience has shown that complete restoration is rare, and alternative metrics such as mass discharge are often useful for assessing the performance of partial restoration efforts. Experience also has shown that different technologies are needed for different times and locations, and that deliberately combining technologies may improve overall remedy performance. Several injection-based technologies are capable of removing a large fraction of the total contaminant mass, and reducing groundwater concentrations and mass discharge by 1 to 2 orders of magnitude. Thermal treatment can remove even more mass, but even these technologies generally leave some contamination in place. Research on better delivery techniques and characterization technologies will likely improve treatment, but managers should anticipate that source treatment will leave some contamination in place that will require future management.