Phytoremediation of Contaminated Sites – Adapting a Natural System to Meet Remedial Goals
Presented by: Ron Gestler, Geosyntec Consultants
Historically, remediation practitioners have been limited in their options for cleanup of sites with groundwater and/or soil impacts. Mechanical pump-and-treat systems have often been employed for hydraulic control and treatment of impacted groundwater, while ‘dig and haul’ has often been used to excavate and re-locate impacted soil from contaminated sites. However, the high cost and sometimes limited success of these ‘active’ cleanup approaches has emphasized the need for alternative technologies. One effective alternative to these traditional remediation approaches is phytoremediation, a green, sustainable and plant-based approach to site cleanup. By harnessing the inherent treatment capacity of plants and their associated microbial communities, successful phytoremediation applications can effectively degrade or contain a wide array of environmental pollutants in soil, groundwater and other impacted media. When properly designed, constructed and maintained, these plant-based remedial systems can be an effective strategy for hydraulic control and treatment of contaminant plumes, or for in-situ treatment of impacted soil sites.
Geosyntec has successfully applied phytoremediation at multiple sites to address impacts from a wide range of environmental contaminants under diverse hydrogeologic and soil conditions, including sites impacted by high levels of contaminants. For many of these sites, phytoremediation was selected as an alternative to – or replacement for – more costly groundwater pump-and-treat systems or excavation approaches. This presentation will review several phytoremediation case studies, including a site with 1,4-dioxane impacted groundwater that was successfully brought to closure by replacing a poorly performing and costly pump-and-treat system with phytoremediation. Case studies illustrating successful cleanup of soil-impacted sites using phytoremediation will also be shared. Lessons learned from these implementations and data supporting conclusions regarding contaminant treatment will be discussed, along with details of the phytoremediation processes and mechanisms that led to successful site cleanups.
Ron Gestler, M.S.
Ron Gestler is a Senior Scientist with Geosyntec Consultants. He has 24 years of experience applying phytoremediation, bioremediation and other in-situ technologies to address a wide variety of environmental impacts at sites in the U.S. and Canada. He has designed, installed and maintained successful phytoremediation systems for groundwater, soil and sediments impacted by contaminants including chlorinated solvents, petroleum hydrocarbons, metals, salts, nutrients, herbicides, chlorophenols, 1,4-dioxane and 1,2,3-trichloropropane. Mr. Gestler has particularly focused on the use of innovative phytoremediation systems designed to target deep and/or highly impacted groundwater, including engineered approaches that enhance root uptake and contaminant degradation, as well as designs that combine phytoremediation with in-situ bioremediation and chemical reduction/oxidation technologies. He has also evaluated poorly performing phytoremediation systems designed and installed by other consultants, and has successfully enhanced their performance by identifying key deficiencies and successfully implementing corrective actions.