Soil Remediation and Sustainable Development : Creating Appropriate Solutions for Marginalized Regions

Abstract: The scope of this doctoral thesis is appropriate soil remediation methods for marginalized regions that go beyond pollution reduction targets and include strategies to support sustainable development. Contaminated soil from industrial or agricultural activities poses potential health threats to animals and humans and also threatens economic systems by making land unsuitable for agriculture and other economic purposes. Remediation of contaminated sites in marginalized regions such as rural areas in developing countries or sparsely populated regions in industrialized countries, need strategies that meet a different set of criteria compared to urban industrial sites in order to be appropriate. A pilot-scale experimental station was built to assess the feasibility of using organic by-products to enhance the degradation of diesel fuel. It was demonstrated that bioremediation based on the use of readily available organic by-products as amendments or phytoremediation based on locally present plants can be appropriate choices of technology in marginalized regions. Systematic sustainability assessments of the regions local environmental and social context of the contaminated site are necessary to design appropriate bioremediation projects. The inclusion of ecological engineering into the framework for strategic sustainable development, as an integrated planning guide, was demonstrated by two case studies to give valuable input to the strategic process when bioremediation is used as a tool to reach sustainability goals. Results from pilot-scale experiments confirm that whey can significantly increase the degradation rate of diesel fuel, but the slow overall degradation rates due to the high clay content in ultisol (a common tropical soil) could be a considerable constraint for efficient pollutant removal in full scale applications. Results from an experiment in soil cylinders show that the vertical migration of added microorganisms was limited in dense soils. Three species of amaranth tested in the field experiment effectively bioaccumulated toxaphene and other persistent organic pollutants which make them potentially interesting candidates for phytoremediation in the region.