Every new serious chemical spill gets announced around the country, but it regularly disappears from the media while remediation measures are still frantically under way.
The soil remediation process, as it is called, is a complex one because complete food chains have been turned upside down, and sometimes rectification practices are themselves costly and just cause more problems. Because of this, a multitude of organizations are engaging in the natural world's own cycles to get the jump on human mistakes.
Crude oil alone is technically natural, even biodegradable – it did come from under the ground, remember – but many of its additives are toxic. And in the wrong environment, the excess hydrocarbons that comes from coal-ash and other pollution can cause useless soil, dead plant and animal life, and ruined groundwater.
Specific species of trees and plants can remove dangerous elements out of the earth. Legumes and willow trees are examples. The foliage then needs to be transferred to another location after it has grown up before it is destroyed. Mulching it on location would just add back to the soil everything it has sucked up.
Some fungi and bacteria, however, can actually alter the chemical composition of pollution, eliminating the need for off-site destruction. Once oil-digesting fungi are done cleaning up the garbage, some species are even completely safe to eat. This could be a major benefit in areas of the world where waste is high and so is hunger.
And continuing bacteria studies have yielded not only environmentally safe bio-remediation for land and marine-water oil spills, but also the potential for neutralizing even radioactive waste such as spent uranium. When it comes to microbial oil-spill remediation, bacteria eat up petroleum hydrocarbons or harmful dioxins and emit decontaminated H2O and CO2 as waste products. Sometimes the right microbes are already there in the soil and just require introducing the proper catalyst to get them to multiply speedily enough to digest all of the hydrocarbons. In cases where the appropriate bacteria aren't already in the soil, they can be introduced. Bioremediation professionals such as groundwater remediation Vienna VA introduce oxygen and nutrients to the area – as well as the bacteria themselves, when necessary – and the process begins.
Luckily for humans and their many foibles, nature often finds a way to balance itself out – and we are getting more and more skilled at helping it along.