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    ASTM E3281 - 21

    Standard Guide for NAPL Mobility and Migration in Sediments – Screening Process to Categorize Samples for Laboratory NAPL Mobility Testing

    Active Standard ASTM E3281 | Developed by Subcommittee: E50.04

    Book of Standards Volume: 11.05

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    Significance and Use

    4.1 NAPLs (for example, chlorinated solvents, petroleum products, and creosote) can be emplaced in sediments through a variety of mechanisms (Guide E3248). Dense non-aqueous phase liquids (DNAPLs) are more dense than water, whereas light non-aqueous phase liquids (LNAPLs) are less dense than water.

    4.2 Standardized guidance and test methods currently exist for assessing NAPL mobility at upland sites, from organizations such as ASTM (Guides E2531 and E2856), Interstate Technology & Regulatory Council (1)3 and the American Petroleum Institute (2, 3).

    4.3 Guide E3248 provides guidance regarding when a NAPL movement evaluation is warranted. After confirming that NAPL is present and evaluating nature and extent as appropriate, the next step in any NAPL movement evaluation is to evaluate if NAPL is mobile or immobile at the pore scale—this is done using tiered or weight of evidence (WOE) approaches. This guide provides a structured process to select samples to submit to the laboratory for NAPL mobility testing that is part of a NAPL movement evaluation.

    4.4 This guide may be used by various parties involved in sediment corrective action programs, including regulatory agencies, project sponsors, environmental consultants, toxicologists, risk assessors, site remediation professionals, environmental contractors, and other stakeholders.

    4.5 This guide should be used in conjunction with other reference material (refer to Section 2 and References) that direct the user in developing and implementing sediment assessment programs.

    4.6 This guide is related to Guide E3163, concerning sediment analytical techniques used during sediment programs. It is related to Guide E3248, which discusses generic models for the emplacement and advection of NAPL in sediments.

    4.7 This guide does not replace the need for engaging competent persons to evaluate NAPL emplacement and movement in sediments. Activities necessary to develop a conceptual site model should be conducted by persons familiar with NAPL-impacted sediment site characterization techniques, physical and chemical properties of NAPL in sediments, fate and transport processes, remediation technologies, and sediment evaluation protocols. The users of this guide should consider assembling a team of experienced project professionals with appropriate expertise to scope, plan, and execute sediment NAPL data acquisition activities.

    4.8 This guide provides a framework based on overarching features and elements that should be customized by the user, based on site-specific conditions, regulatory context, and program objectives for a particular sediment site. This guide should not be used alone as a prescriptive checklist.

    4.9 The user of this guide should review the overall structure and components of this guide before proceeding with use, including:

    Section 1


    Section 2

    Referenced Documents

    Section 3


    Section 4

    Significance and Use

    Section 5

    Summary of the Process for Screening and Selection of Samples for Laboratory NAPL Mobility Testing

    Section 6

    Methods for Recording Visual Observations of Sheen and NAPL in Sediment Samples

    Section 7

    Methods for Performing Shake Testing of Sediment Samples

    Section 8

    Categorizing the Relative Presence of NAPL in Sediment

    Section 9

    Use of NAPL Categorization Results to Select Existing Samples or Identify Locations and Depths for Collecting Additional Undisturbed Samples for Laboratory NAPL Mobility Testing

    Section 10

    Other Methods to Select Samples for Laboratory NAPL Mobility Testing

    Section 11


    Appendix X1

    Recommended Procedure for Visually Characterizing Sediment for Sheen or NAPL Observations

    Appendix X2

    Recommended Procedure for a Sediment-Water Shake Test

    Appendix X3

    Case Study



    1. Scope

    1.1 This guide is designed for general application at a wide range of sediment sites where non-aqueous phase liquid (NAPL) is present or suspected to be present in the sediment. This guide describes a process to use field screening methods, specifically visual observations, and the results of shake tests, to categorize the relative amount of NAPL present in a sample. This categorization can then be utilized to select co-located sediment samples for laboratory testing to determine if the NAPL in the sample interval is mobile or immobile at the pore scale, or any other chemical or physical testing.

    1.1.1 There is no current industry standard methodology to select sediment samples for laboratory NAPL mobility testing; the use of different methodologies is possible. This guide focuses on a selection process that uses visual observations and shake tests. This process has the advantage of being simple to use and, if applied in a disciplined manner, has been demonstrated to provide good results in the field.

    1.2 This guide is intended to inform, complement, and support characterization and remedial efforts performed under international, federal, state, and local environmental programs but not supersede local, state, federal, or international regulations. The users of this guide should review existing information and data available for a sediment site to determine applicable regulatory agency requirements and the most appropriate entry point into and use of this guide.

    1.3 ASTM International (ASTM) standard guides are not regulations; they are consensus standard guides that may be followed voluntarily to support applicable regulatory requirements. This guide may be used in conjunction with other ASTM guides developed for assessing sediment sites.

    1.4 This guide does not address methods and means of sample collection (Guide E3163).

    1.5 Units—The values stated in SI or CGS units are to be regarded as the standard. No other units of measurement are included in this standard.

    1.6 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety, health, and environmental practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

    1.7 This international standard was developed in accordance with internationally recognized principles on standardization established in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee.

    2. Referenced Documents (purchase separately) The documents listed below are referenced within the subject standard but are not provided as part of the standard.

    ASTM Standards

    D2487 Practice for Classification of Soils for Engineering Purposes (Unified Soil Classification System)

    D2488 Practice for Description and Identification of Soils (Visual-Manual Procedures)

    D7203 Practice for Screening Trichloroethylene (TCE)-Contaminated Media Using a Heated Diode Sensor

    E2531 Guide for Development of Conceptual Site Models and Remediation Strategies for Light Nonaqueous-Phase Liquids Released to the Subsurface

    E2856 Guide for Estimation of LNAPL Transmissivity

    E3163 Guide for Selection and Application of Analytical Methods and Procedures Used during Sediment Corrective Action

    E3248 Guide for NAPL Mobility and Migration in Sediment Conceptual Models for Emplacement and Advection

    F2534 Guide for Visually Estimating Oil Spill Thickness on Water

    Referencing This Standard
    Link Here
    Link to Active (This link will always route to the current Active version of the standard.)

    DOI: 10.1520/E3281-21

    Citation Format

    ASTM E3281-21, Standard Guide for NAPL Mobility and Migration in Sediments – Screening Process to Categorize Samples for Laboratory NAPL Mobility Testing, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2021, www.astm.org

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