Bioremediation is a versatile remediation technique suitable for a range of contaminants in soils, groundwater or other matrices. Organic contaminants (e.g. petroleum hydrocarbons) are usually broken down to less harmful compounds, whereas metals can be modified to reduce toxicity and/or mobility.
In most cases bioremediation involves mixed communities of bacteria and/or fungi naturally present onsite where conditions can be optimised through air or nutrient amendment (biostimulation). Sometimes microbial cultures are added to a site (bioaugmentation) because microorganisms able to degrade the contaminant(s) of concern are considered lacking, or as an approach to increase the abundance of degraders and therefore activity.
For the right project, bioremediation can be an economical, sustainable, low-carbon and environmentally friendly remediation technique. For example, contaminated soils considered hazardous in terms of landfill disposal can be treated and retained onsite, providing significant cost savings. Furthermore, bioremediation can be readily used in combination with other soil and groundwater remediation techniques like chemical remediation, or can be applied in-situ to complete groundwater remediation to site targets following other primary treatments.
Despite bioremediation's advantages and the shift towards net-zero, carbon-neutral and sustainable construction across the UK, bioremediation is still an underutilised technique in Scotland and across the UK, which we believe may be due to a lack of understanding and incorrect past application, leading to poor performance. In contrast, at ERS we have in-house microbiologists and other technical specialists, and have had a lot of success with bioremediation techniques, saving our clients money.
To find out more about bioremediation or its potential application for your project or site, contact us today to speak to one of our bioremediation experts.