The clean up of soils contaminated with petroleum products is associated with several challenges, especially of analytical methodologies and data interpretation.
Petroleum products comprise a vast continuum of hydrocarbons from short chain aliphatic and simple aromatic hydrocarbons in gasoline to kerosene, diesel, and heavy oils and to lubricating oils or vaseline, each gradation with increasing carbon chains and complexity. Gasoline alone may contain over twelve hundred compounds. Properties of these vary and this will be of analytical concern. Treatment technology and site remediation progress will lean heavily on analytical techniques that are accurate, reproducible and of real time value.
This paper examines the various analytical techniques available along with their special features. Some new methods currently under development are also discussed. These include: (1) High Resolution Chromatograph Method which can reveal the detail composition of the contaminants; (2) Supercritical Fluid Extraction which can save time for the analysis; and (3) Fingerprinting which can be used to determine the responsible party for the spill. In addition, the interference due to weathering is also examined.