Comparative bioremediation of soils contaminated with diesel oil by natural attenuation, biostimulation and bioaugmentation

Fatima M Bento, Flávio A O Camargo, Benedict C Okeke, William T Frankenberger
Bioresource Technology 2005, 96 (9): 1049-55
Bioremediation of diesel oil in soil can occur by natural attenuation, or treated by biostimulation or bioaugmentation. In this study we evaluated all three technologies on the degradation of total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) in soil. In addition, the number of diesel-degrading microorganisms present and microbial activity as indexed by the dehydrogenase assay were monitored. Soils contaminated with diesel oil in the field were collected from Long Beach, California, USA and Hong Kong, China. After 12 weeks of incubation, all three treatments showed differing effects on the degradation of light (C12-C23) and heavy (C23-C40) fractions of TPH in the soil samples. Bioaugmentation of the Long Beach soil showed the greatest degradation in the light (72.7%) and heavy (75.2%) fractions of TPH. Natural attenuation was more effective than biostimulation (addition of nutrients), most notably in the Hong Kong soil. The greatest microbial activity (dehydrogenase activity) was observed with bioaugmentation of the Long Beach soil (3.3-fold) and upon natural attenuation of the Hong Kong sample (4.0-fold). The number of diesel-degrading microorganisms and heterotrophic population was not influenced by the bioremediation treatments. Soil properties and the indigenous soil microbial population affect the degree of biodegradation; hence detailed site specific characterization studies are needed prior to deciding on the proper bioremediation method.

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