The groundwater at a former gasoline production site in Germany is heavily contaminated with aromatic hydrocarbons (mostly
benzene) and is currently being treated in bioreactors under anaerobic conditions. To determine the reaction kinetics it is
essential to know the mean residence time of the groundwater in these reactors. Most of the commonly used tracers (dyes and
salts) did not give reliable results because of their interaction with the mineral matrix in the reactors. In this study radon
(222Rn) dissolved in the groundwater is used as the tracer. The flow rate of groundwater through the reactors is 1 l/h. Over a
period of 8 hours the radon-spiked groundwater was injected into the natural groundwater which has a very low radon concentration.
The radon concentration of the discharged water is measured online at the reactor outlet. An increasing radon concentration
at the reactor exit indicates the shortest residence time of the water. The time-dependent progress of the radon concentration
provides detailed information about the flow behavior and residence times of water in the reactor.