Site Reclamation Project: Part I

I have talked before about the site reclamation project my class worked on over the course of the fall 2010 semester.  In this and the next couple articles, I will talk more about the scenario, what we did, and what we acheived.  I’ll even throw in some pictures for good measure.

The Setup

Our contaminated envrionment is composed of sand, silt loam, water, and open atmosphere.

The contaminated environment is composed of sand, silt loam, water, and open atmosphere, layered in the manner shown to mimic a lake or ocean shoreline. The land was contaminated at the location shown. The water environment was also contaminated, but is not shown here. (Photo Credit: Brad Camroux. Diagram created in Inkscape)

At the beginning of term the class was informed that we would be working on a term project involving the remediation of a contaminated environment.  This environment consisted of a 20-gallon tank filled with sand, loam (soil), and water, in a manner that simulated a beach shoreline.  The environment was contaminated (by the instructor) in two places with crude oil.  Our instructor took initial samples were taken from the soil and water, which were tested (by Wendy and Fara, the wonderful ladies of lab stores) for the BTEX group only (time is money, and these tests take time).

Our task was to apply what we were learning in site reclamation class, as well as other research and collective knowledge, to the contaminated tanks.


With five groups experimenting, each in its own tank, our instructor set up two control tanks, each with the same amount of sand, soil, and water.  One control tank was left uncontaminated; the other received the same amount of crude oil contamination as each of the other tanks.  As control tanks, no attempts were made to remediate the contamination.

Samples were taken from each of the controls at the same time as from the experiment tanks and were tested for the same component(s).  The intent of this was to compare our remediated tanks with the controls in an attempt to determine success and possibly identify areas for improvement.

My Group

My group consisted of myself and four others.  Each of us researched and implemented different techniques: soil washing, phytoremediation, static aeration, nitrogen fertilization, sorbent pads, and methanotrophic charging.  In the next article I will discuss who did what, and how the methods may have affected the environment.

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