The effect of plants on the degradation and toxicity of petroleum contaminants in soil: a field assessment

M K Banks, P Schwab, B Liu, P A Kulakow, J S Smith, R Kim
Advances in Biochemical Engineering/biotechnology 2003, 78: 75-96
A field project located at the US Naval Base at Port Hueneme, California was designed to evaluate changes in contaminant concentrations and toxicity during phytoremediation. Vegetated plots were established in petroleum (diesel and heavy oil) contaminated soil and were evaluated over a two-year period. Plant species were chosen based on initial germination studies and included native California grasses. The toxicity of the impacted soil in vegetated and unvegetated plots was evaluated using Microtox, earthworm, and seed germination assays. The reduction of toxicity was affected more by contaminant aging than the establishment of plants. However, total petroleum hydrocarbon concentrations were lower by the end of the study in the vegetated plots when compared to the unvegetated soil. Although phytoremediation is an effective approach for cleaning-up of petroleum contaminated soil, a long-term management plan is required for significant reductions in contaminant concentrations.

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