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An ecological microsystem to treat waste oil contaminated soil: Using phytoremediation assisted by fungi and local compost, on a mixed-contaminant site, in a cold climate

Robichaud, Kawina, Stewart, Katherine, Labrecque, Michel, Hijri, Mohamed, Cherewyk, Jensen, Amyot, Marc
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.672 pp. 732-742
Coriolus versicolor, Eisenia andrei, Hordeum vulgare, Psathyrella, Salix alaxensis, Salix planifolia, aboveground biomass, arsenic, barley, bioassays, biomass production, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, cold, cold zones, composts, copper, decontamination, earthworms, fruiting bodies, fruits, fungi, growing season, guidelines, hydrocarbons, industrialization, lead, leaves, mineral fertilizers, mortality, oils, petroleum, phytoaccumulation, polluted soils, risk, rooting, seed germination, soil toxicity, toxicity, vegetation cover, wastes, wildlife, willows, zinc
As a result of anthropization and industrialization, northern remote communities face issues of soil contamination by mixtures of organic and inorganic contaminants. Soil bioremediation in cold environments is particularly challenging because of slower degradation rates, slower production of biomass for phytoextraction of trace elements (TEs), and remoteness, which can complicate logistics and inflate costs. This study evaluated a decontamination approach integrating indigenous willows, fungi and compost in a northern community. The site was a waste oil pit and its soil was initially contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons (PHC) exceeding 200 g kg−1 and TEs including As, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Pb and Zn. In under five years, 65 and 75% of PHC (C6-C50 and >C50) were degraded, compared to 27 and 13% for the untreated control soil. We found contrasting TE translocation patterns to the aboveground biomass for the willow species used (Salix planifolia and Salix alaxensis), as well as distinctive rooting strategies. Hazard quotients were calculated to assess the risk plant material could pose to local wildlife. The highest TE concentration measured was Zn in S. planifolia, which exceeded Canadian soil guidelines. Results indicate toxicity risks to animals linked to TEs in Salix spp. leaves is generally unlikely. The fungus Trametes versicolor inoculated into the soil did not fruit, however fruiting bodies of Psathyrella sp. were observed consistently (four out of five years). Biological tests indicated that in five growing seasons soil toxicity significantly decreased compared to the untreated soil used as control. This was demonstrated by vegetation cover (137 vs 11% cover), toxicity assays on earthworms (Eisenia andrei) (0 vs 33% mortality) and barley seed germination (Hordeum vulgare) (86 vs 62% germination). The proposed decontamination approach, without the use of synthetic fertilizers, is promising for the PHC remediation of mixed-contaminants on cold climate sites.