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.
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