Remediation of chlorinated solvents with Electrical Resistance Heating (ERH) at an active industrial site in Italy

Submitted: 22 May 2023
Accepted: 26 July 2023
Published: 27 September 2023
Abstract Views: 492
PDF: 257
Publisher's note
All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article or claim that may be made by its manufacturer is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.


Italian legislation defines stringent groundwater chemical quality criteria, to be applied at a site’s downgradient property boundary, irrespective of whether the underlying aquifer is, or could be, used for water resource purposes. In some scenarios, the regulatory authorities may identify less stringent standards, but this rarely occurs. This means that many sites with groundwater contamination are managed using hydraulic barriers, as source zone remediation may not achieve the stringent groundwater standards required due to technology limits or time constraints; therefore, the parties responsible for contamination often decide to continue to operate these hydraulic barriers indefinitely. This article describes the first application in Italy of source treatment using Electrical Resistance Heating (ERH), a remediation technology capable of removing a large percentage of contaminant mass, at a site where a hydraulic barrier is operating within a low yielding aquifer that is not used for water supply. The implementation of this technology was possible since the source zone was far from the downgradient site boundary, thus making achievement of the stringent quality standards at the boundary possible within a reasonable timeframe. The ERH system recovered of about 600 kg of contaminants within a timeframe of 8 months and achieved a reduction of contaminant concentrations in the most impacted areas greater than 90%. This article also emphasizes that, in similar low yielding aquifers, setting less stringent groundwater standards at the site boundary whilst still protecting downgradient receptors may promote more widespread implementation of source remediation activities in Italy.

Antelmi, Renoldi, Alberti (October 2020). Analytical and numerical methods for a preliminary assessment of the remediation time of Pump and Treat systems, Water 12(10), 2850. DOI:

Antelmi, Mazzon, Höhener, Marchesi, Alberti, (October 2021). Evaluation of MNA in a Chlorinated Solvents-Contaminated Aquifer using Reactive Transport Modeling coupled with Isotopic Fractionation Analysis, Water 2021, 13(21), 2945. DOI:

ATSDR (2019). Toxicological profile for tetrachloroethylene. Accessed March 30, 2022

Baldock J. et. al. (May 2015). Integrating Sustainable In-Situ Thermal and Biological Treatment [platform presentation]. Third International Symposium on Bioremediation and Sustainable Environmental Technologies, Miami, FL.

Bunderministerium der Justiz (1999). Federal Soil Protection and Contaminated Sites Ordinance (in German: Bundes-Bodenschutz- und Altlastenverordnung-BBodSchV). Accessed May 3rd, 2022

Chapman S.W., Parker B.L. (2005). Plume persistence due to aquitard back diffusion following dense nonaqueous phase liquid source removal or isolation. Water Resour Res. 41(12). DOI:

CLU-IN (2021). Membrane Interface Probe Accessed May 3rd, 2022

Cohen R.M., Mercer J.W., Greenwald R.M., Beljin M.S. (1997). Groundwater Issue: Design Guidelines for Conventional Pump-and-Treat Systems. EPA/540/S-97/504. Accessed March 30, 2022

Dijkshoorn P., Mori P., Cappelletti Zaffaroni M. (2014). High resolution site characterization as key element for proper design and cost estimation of groundwater remediation. Acque Sotterranee-Italian Journal of Groundwater, AS 11052:017-27. DOI:

Eupolis Lombardia (2015). Analysis and promotion of new technologies for remediation and characterization of contaminated sites (In Italian: Analisi e promozione di nuove tecnologie di bonifica e di caratterizzazione dei siti contaminati). Accessed March 30, 2022

Federal Remediation Technologies Roundtable (1995). Remediation Case Studies: Groundwater Treatment. EPA 542-R-95-003. Accessed March 30, 2022

Federal Remediation Technologies Roundtable (2022). In Situ Thermal Treatment. Accessed May 3rd, 2022

Friuli Venezia Giulia Region (2018). Progetto di Piano regionale di bonifica dei siti contaminati. territorio/tutela-ambiente-gestione-risorse naturali/FOGLIA1/allegati/piano_bonifiche2018.pdf Accessed March 30, 2022

Gavaskar A., Bhargava M. and Condit W. (2007). Final report-cost and performance review of electrical resistance heating (ERH) for source treatment. Accessed March 30, 2022 DOI:

Geoprobe systems (2021). Geoprobe membrane interface probe (MIP) standard operating procedure. Geoprobe technical bulletin MK3010. Accessed March 30, 2022

Gouvernement Wallon, 2018. Décret relatif à la gestion et à l'assainissement des sols. Accessed May 3rd, 2022

Griffin T. W. and Watson K.W. (2007). A comparison of field techniques for confirming dense nonaqueous phase liquids. Groundwater Monitoring and Remediation 22-2: 48-59. DOI:

Heron G., Parker K., Galligan J. and Holmes T.C. (2009). Thermal treatment of eight CVOC source zones to near nondetect concentrations. Groundwater Monit Remediat. 29-3: 56-65. DOI:

Horst J., Munholland J., Hegele P., Klemmer M. and Gattenby J. (2021). In Situ Thermal Remediation for Source Areas: Technology Advances and a Review of the Market From 1988-2020. Groundwater Monit Remediat. 29(3):56–65. DOI:

Legambiente (2022). Acque sotterranee – il necessario è invisibile agli occhi. Accessed April 21, 2022

Li P., Karunanidhi D., Subramani T. et al. (2021). Sources and Consequences of Groundwater Contamination. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 80, 1–10 (2021). DOI:

Lombardy Region (2017). D.g.r. 22 giugno 2017 - n. X/6773. Rettifica della deliberazione n. X/6737 del 19/06/2017 “Approvazione delle misure di risanamento dell’inquinamento diffuso delle acque sotterranee da attuare per l’area vasta comprendente i comuni di Brugherio, Cinisello Balsamo, Cologno monzese, Milano, Monza, Nova Milanese e Sesto San Giovanni e della disciplina dell’inquinamento diffuso delle acque sotterranee dell’area vasta (art. 239, comma 3 del d.lgs. 152/2006)”. Accessed April 21, 2022

Nelson D. Dablow J. and Baldock, J. (June 2019). Can Microbes reduce Thermal Remediation Timeframes and Implementation Costs? A Retrospective Look at Thermal Sites [platform presentation]. I2T2 Conference, Banff, Canada.

Newell C., Borden R. and Alperin E. (2012). Matrix diffusion challenges & potential solutions. Pollution Engineering 44-6: 22-28.

Petrangeli Papini M., Majone M. (2013). Prospettive di sviluppo e tecnologie innovative per la bonifica di acque sotterranee: approccio italiano e casi di studio. ENEA Workshop “Tecnologie innovative bonifica acque di falda”. Accessed March 30, 2022

Preziosi E., Rotiroti M., Condessa de Melo T.M. and Hinsby K. (2022). Natural Background Levels in Groundwater. DOI: 10.3390/books978-3-0365-3723-8 DOI:

Province of Milan (2004). Biorisanamento in situ di falde contaminate da solventi clorurati: un caso studio in Provincia di Milano. Workshop “Nuovi indirizzi nella bonifica dei siti contaminati. La prassi, la normativa, le nuove tecnologie”. Accessed March 30, 2022

Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (2009). Circulaire bodemsanering 2009. Circulaire bodemsanering 2009 | RIVM. Accessed May 3rd, 2022

Sale T., Newell C. Stroo H. Hinchee R. and Johnson P. (2008). Frequently asked questions regarding management of chlorinated solvents in soil and groundwater. Accessed March 30, 2022

Stroo H.F., Leeson A., Marqusee J.A., Johnson P.C., Herb Ward C., Kavanaugh M.C., Sale T., Newell C.J., Pennell K.D., Lebron C.A., Unger M. (2012). Chlorinated Ethene Source Remediation: Lessons Learned. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2012, 46, 6438−6447. DOI:

Sustainable Remediation Forum Italy (2015). Libro Bianco Sostenbilità nelle Bonifiche in Italia.

Accessed March 30, 2022

United Kingdom Environmental Agency (2017). Land contamination groundwater compliance points: quantitative risk assessments. Accessed April 26, 2022

Towhata, I., Kuntiwattanaku, P., Seko, I., & Ohishi, K. (1993). Volume change of clays induced by heating as observed in consolidation tests. Soils and foundations,33(4), 170-183. DOI:

United Nations (2022). World Water Day 22 March. Accessed April 21, 2022

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (2014). Environmental Quality. Design: in situ thermal remediation. Engineer manual. Accessed March 30, 2022

USEPA (1994). Methods for monitoring Pump-and-Treat performance. EPA/600/R-94/123. Accessed March 30, 2022

USEPA (1998). Technical protocol for evaluating natural attenuation of chlorinated solvents in groundwater. EPA/600/R-98/128. Accessed March 30, 2022

USEPA (1999). Multi-Phase Extraction: State-of-the-Practice. EPA 542 -R-99-004. Accessed April 15, 2022

USEPA (2004). Site characterization technologies for DNAPL investigations. EPA 542-R-04-017. Accessed March 30, 2022

USEPA (2005). Sensor technology used during site remediation activities - selected experiences. EPA 542-R-05-007. Accessed March 30, 2022

USEPA (2016). Engineering paper. In situ thermal treatment technologies: lessons learned. Accessed March 30, 2022

USEPA (2019). Assessing and Remediating Low Permeability Geological Materials Contaminated by Petroleum Hydrocarbons From Leaking Underground Storage Tanks: A Literature Review. Accessed March 30, 2022

USEPA (2021). Green remediation best management practices: pump&treat systems. EPA 542-F-21-029. Accessed March 30, 2022

Voudrias E.A. (2001). Pump-and-treat remediation of groundwater contaminated by hazardous waste: can it really be achieved? Global Nest: the Int. J 3 (1), 1-10, 2001. DOI:

Mori, P., Baldock, J., Gigliuto, A., Cappelletti Zaffaroni, M., & Marino, C. (2023). Remediation of chlorinated solvents with Electrical Resistance Heating (ERH) at an active industrial site in Italy. Acque Sotterranee - Italian Journal of Groundwater, 12(3), 41–50.


Download data is not yet available.