A method to simultaneously remediate mixed-waste underground contamination, such as organic liquids, metals, and radionuclides involves chemical tailoring of steam for underground injection. Gases or chemicals are injected into a high pressure steam flow being injected via one or more injection wells to contaminated soil located beyond a depth where excavation is possible. The injection of the steam with gases or chemicals mobilizes contaminants, such as metals and organics, as the steam pushes the waste through the ground toward an extraction well having subatmospheric pressure (vacuum). The steam and mobilized contaminants are drawn in a substantially horizontal direction to the extraction well and withdrawn to a treatment point above ground. The heat and boiling action of the front of the steam flow enhance the mobilizing effects of the chemical or gas additives. The method may also be utilized for immobilization of metals by using an additive in the steam which causes precipitation of the metals into clusters large enough to limit their future migration, while removing any organic contaminants.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.