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What Is Bioremediation?

What Does Bioremediation Technology Entail?

Bioremediation is the method of cleaning up groundwater, soil, and subsurface contaminations using biological organisms. Bioremediation specialists treat pollutants, such as oil, pesticides, solvents and various petroleum products, through mimicking and stimulating nature’s biodegradation processes.

In nature, microbes such as yeast, bacteria and fungi feed on contaminants and release water, CO2, ethene and other harmless gases as byproducts. Bioremediation specialists employ this organic occurrence to reduce or eliminate pollutants from different mediums in the following ways:    

  • Bioaugmentation is the method of supplementing the appropriate variety of microbes indigenous to the groundwater and soil. For the microbes to thrive and eat pollutants most effectively, certain conditions are required, such as a suitable temperature, oxygen and the addition of nutrients and amendments, e.g., vegetable oil or molasses. The treatment may be performed in situ, meaning in place, or, if conditions are not ideal, ex situ, meaning above ground. Ex situtreatment is achieved through the pumping polluted groundwater or excavation impacted soil. Once removed from the subsurface treatment would occur. Read here to learn more on the topic.
  • If there is little or no biological activity at a site, exogenous microbes can be introduced and enhanced to degrade the contamination.
  • Some microbes require oxygen in the environment to function, while others bioremediate in an anaerobic, or oxygen-free, environment.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Bioremediation uses microbes that naturally occur in groundwater and soil, harmlessly stimulating chemicals, nutrients and amendments, causing no damage to onsite personnel or the surrounding community. Samples from the treatment site are frequently tested by bioremediation specialists to maintain balance and monitor progress. After treatment, the microbes die off and leave minimal byproducts such as water and gases. In comparison with several other methods, onsite bioremediation offers a cheaper and less disruptive way to clean up a site.       

What Is the Treatment Length?

The duration for remediation is site specific. It can range from a few months to a few years, depending on the size of the contaminated site, the favorability of the host and surrounding environments, contaminant concentration, in situ or ex situ methods, and cleanup after ex situ treatment.

Why Choose EEC?

Selecting an appropriate remedial approach and action plan is crucial to clean up a site and meet regulatory closure requirements. EEC Environmental employs a combination of the latest remedial technologies and other time-tested methods. If you are looking for a bioremediation solution for soil and groundwater, contact an EEC expert today.

Soil and Groundwater Remediation System Design

As available land for construction and redevelopment in large urban environments becomes more and more scarce, the once terrifying idea of redeveloping an environmentally impacted site has now become a tremendous opportunity to make a significant return on investment. As savvy investors realize these opportunities, soil and groundwater remediation is something many developers and investors face on a daily basis. The good news is that we have entered an era when there is an ever-expanding list of options to clean these sites at greatly reduced cost and time frames than in early years of environmental industry.

Sources of Soil and Groundwater Contamination

Causes of soil and groundwater pollution are varied, and include release from landfills, industrial operations, sewage, mining, nearby sanitation systems, fuel stations, dry cleaners, and liquid waste from wastewater treatments. Groundwater may be contaminated with volatile and semi-volatile chemicals, pathogens, radioactive material, metals and organic compounds.

Soil and Groundwater Remediation Options

  • Physical treatments can include excavation of impacted soil, soil stabilization, air sparging, soil vapor extraction, dual phase extraction, and pump and treat with carbon adsorption.
  • Biological treatments comprise biosparging, bioventing, bioslurping, in situ anaerobic bio-augmentation and phytoremediation.
  • Chemical treatments, chemical precipitation, in situ chemical oxidation, ion exchange, surfactant enhanced recovery, membrane separation and oxygen and ozone gas injections.

The treatment method should be chosen based on the contaminants specific to the site and other site-specific factors. For example, pollutants such as tetrachlorethene (better known as the dry cleaning solvent PCE or PERC), trichloroethene, benzene, ethylbenzene, poly-nuclear aromatics and vinyl chloride can be remediated through enhanced or natural aerobic and/or anaerobic degradation, carbon adsorption, insitu chemical oxidation, or in situ or exsitu thermal treatment. Other like metals and pesticides are more effectively addressed by soil removal or stabilization.    

Combination of New and Old Techniques

Offering clients comprehensive site investigation, remedial feasibility expertise, and remedial design and implementation, EEC Environmental has remained on the front line of the newest remedial technologies while also utilizing time-tested techniques.

If you are faced with a situation where an environmental site assessment and/or soil and groundwater remediation for a contaminated site is necessary, or simply if you need to discuss your situation with an environmental professional, or have questions regarding any of our other services, contact us online or by telephone and an EEC team member will be happy to connect with you.