Bioremediation of petroleum hydrocarbons in contaminated soils: comparison of biosolids addition, carbon supplementation, and monitored natural attenuation

Dibyendu Sarkar, Michael Ferguson, Rupali Datta, Stuart Birnbaum
Environmental Pollution 2005, 136 (1): 187-95
Two methods of biostimulation were compared in a laboratory incubation study with monitored natural attenuation (MNA) for total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) degradation in diesel-contaminated Tarpley clay soil with low carbon content. One method utilized rapid-release inorganic fertilizers rich in N and P, and the other used sterilized, slow-release biosolids, which added C in addition to N and P. After 8 weeks of incubation, both biostimulation methods degraded approximately 96% of TPH compared to MNA, which degraded 93.8%. However, in the first week of incubation, biosolids-amended soils showed a linear two orders of magnitude increase in microbial population compared to MNA, whereas, in the fertilizer-amended soils, only a one order of magnitude increase was noted. In the following weeks, microbial population in the fertilizer-amended soils dropped appreciably, suggesting a toxic effect owing to fertilizer-induced acidity and/or NH(3) overdosing. Results suggest that biosolids addition is a more effective soil amendment method for biostimulation than the commonly practiced inorganic fertilizer application, because of the abilities of biosolids to supplement carbon. No statistically significant difference was observed between the biostimulation methods and MNA, suggesting that MNA can be a viable remediation strategy in certain soils with high native microbial population.

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