Using stable isotopes in tracing contaminant sources in an industrial area: A case study on the hydrological basin of the Olt River, Romania
Elena Ionete R
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Tracing pollution sources and transformation of nitrogen compounds in surface- and groundwater is an issue of great significance worldwide due to the increased human activity, translated in high demand of water resources and pollution. In this work, the hydrological basin of an important chemical industrial platform in Romania (Ramnicu Valcea industrial area) was characterized in terms of the physico-chemical and isotope composition of δ18O and δ2H in water samples and δ15N of the inorganic nitrogen species. Throughout a period of one year, water samples from the Olt River and its more important tributaries were collected monthly in the industrial area, when the seasonal and spatial isotope patterns of the surface waters and the main sources of pollution were determined. Higher inorganic nitrogen concentrations (up to 10.2 mg N L− 1) were measured between November 2012 and April 2013, which were designated as anthropogenic additions using the mixing calculations. The main sources of pollution with inorganic nitrogen were agriculture and residential release. The inorganic nitrogen from the industrial waste water duct had a distinct δ15N fingerprint (mean of − 8.6‰). Also, one industrial release into the environment was identified for Olt River, at Ionesti site, in November 2012. The mean precipitation samples had the lowest inorganic nitrogen concentrations (less than 5.5 mg N L− 1) with a distinct δ15N fingerprint compared to the surface and industrial waters.