Fate of point-source pesticide spill in Clayey Till after 15 Years

Peter R. Jørgensen, Niels H. Spliid, Troels Laier, Stefan Outzen

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1 Citation (Scopus)


This study investigated the development of pesticide pollution two, three, and 17 years after spills of the herbicides dichlorprop, mecoprop (MCPP), MCPA, 2,4-D (phenoxy acids), simazine, and terbutylazine (triazines) in a former orchard machinery service yard. The spills had occurred over several decades on a 23-m thick, mainly anaerobic fractured clayey till aquitard. Angled monitoring wells were installed in the aquitard 3 years after the spills ceased in 1989. In 1993, monitoring revealed that high groundwater concentrations of dichlorprop (677 µg/L) and MCPP (139 µg/L) were accumulated as a zone of maximum pollution in anaerobic and largely immobile pore water at 5 to 6 m depth in the aquitard profile. In contrast, 2,4-D was determined in only one water sample, and MCPA and simazine and terbutylazine were determined only in low concentrations (below10 µg/L), although these pesticides had been handled at the site in greater amounts than dichlorprop and MCPP according to detailed historic information obtained for the site. Repeated monitoring in the same wells after a further 14 years in 2007 revealed that no identifiable degradation of MCPP had occurred, while dichlorprop had degraded by 75% to 80% (estimated half-life of approximately 5 years). Furthermore, degradation products related to the phenoxy acids had accumulated, especially 4-CPP with a maximum concentration of 218 µg/L. In the same zone, MCPA and simazine had almost disappeared. As the pollution was mainly accumulated in largely immobile pore water of the aquitard clayey matrix, and the groundwater recharge was low (30 to 60 mm/year), only minor vertical displacement of the zone with maximum pollution zone had occurred during the 15 years of monitoring. However, concentrations of dichlorprop (0.01 to 0.02 µg/L), MCPP (0.1 to 0.2 µg/L), and 4-CPP (0.6 to 0.7 µg/L) had spread along textural heterogeneities in the aquitard into the underlying sandy aquifer at 23-m depth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-42
Number of pages10
JournalGroundwater Monitoring and Remediation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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