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Innovative process for the on-site decontamination of soils (ECO-SOIL)

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Successful on-site decontamination of polluted soil

The 'Innovative process for the on-site decontamination of soils' (ECO-SOIL) project advanced a system for ‘cleaning’ soils polluted with industrial waste. The process proved particularly suitable for treating soil under buildings and infrastructure that cannot be removed, such as petrol stations and airports.

Climate Change and Environment icon Climate Change and Environment

Soil and groundwater at the ECO-SOIL test site had been previously contaminated with mineral oil and the dry-cleaning agent PCE (known as tetrachloroethane or perchchloroethylene). Remediation of the site was carried out using the ECO-SOIL method, which included drilling horizontal holes in the ground. A series of sockets inside the same number of parallel horizontal holes were filled with biosorbent materials. The materials included activated carbon to be compared with alternative materials peat, pine bark or synthetic polymers. Following a suitable period of time to achieve the desired decontamination effect, the system was removed and the sorbent analysed and, in the case of pine bark, regenerated for further use. modified pine bark polluted with mineral oil could be easily re-used following biodegradation under controlled conditions. However, chlorinated hydrocarbons such as PCE were highly volatile and have to be degraded as a co-metabolite by adding other pollutants to the sorbent. the ECO-SOIL system was designed, built and fixed in the most suitable drilling location that took into consideration conditions within the soil. The equipment included a drill mounted on a carrier system and a lubricant, which was used to cool the drill. Inside, the hole filters were used to allow ground water to drain through as well as securing 25 metre-long sockets, each 5 metre length filled with a different sorbent. samples from the sorbents, soil and groundwater were regularly analysed to determine their mineral oil and chlorinated hydrocarbon content. in addition, tests were conducted for micro-organisms living in the sorbents used for decontamination with the ECO-SOIL system. Scientists also investigated the reutilisation of the sorbent. researchers applied the EU-funded project’s technique to a wide range of contaminated soils and tested the performance of different sorbent materials in order to establish selective systems for each kind of contaminant. The project’s success enabled polluted soil under buildings and infrastructure to be properly treated and re-used.

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