Phytoremediation is the generic term for treating contaminated soils using plants. It’s a tried and tested remediation method however it has a very low uptake due to the long timeframes required for any real impact to contamination levels.
We’ve enjoyed a rise in new terminology (which makes it easier to confuse the layman ;-)), and more importantly, a better understanding of the process as the number of projects increases.
Phyto-extraction – Plants uptake the contaminant, popular practice is to harvest these plants, incinerate them and landfill the ash.
Phyto-transformation – Plants alter the state of the contamination to a less hazardous / less contaminating state.
Phyto-stabilisation – This description has a two-fold use, one is to reduce water content in the soil and tying the soil together so that contaminant release is reduced / stopped, another is that the processes in the plant roots chemically ties up the contaminants reducing the potential to leach.
It’s worth noting Phyto-extraction is the only one which would leave you a ‘finished product’ you can use i.e. clean soils. The second 2 largely rely on the plants remaining in-situ.
The real time issue arises from the necessity for plants to grow, extending their roots in to the contaminated soils. For Aspen trees this can be 5-10 years, however smaller plants and other trees (e.g. willow) are much quicker.
What else would you do with your derelict land?
If you’re still interested, feel free to drop us a line (0131 538 8456) and/or an e-mail if you have a query.
Soil remediation guide
Approaching soil remediation without any prior knowledge can be difficult and uncomfortable at times, especially when it can potentially be very costly. This free eBook will help you understand the whats, the whys and the hows of soil remediation in the simplest terms.