Every new giant oil spill seems to hit the front page, but it inevitably loses the attention of the public eye while repair endeavors are still actively occurring.
The soil remediation process, as it is called, is a complex one since complete ecosystems have been turned on their heads, and sometimes correction practices are themselves chemical-heavy and just cause more imbalance. Since this is true, numerous specialists are engaging in nature's own processes to repair human errors.
Crude oil alone is technically natural, even compostable – it did come from the ground, after all – but many of its additives are problematic. And in general, the flood of hydrocarbons that comes from chemical and other pollution can make for barren soil, suffering plant and animal life, and poisonous groundwater.
A few kinds of trees and plants can remove dangerous elements out of the earth. Leguminous plants and willow trees are examples. The plant matter then needs to be transferred to another location after it has grown up before it is destroyed. Mulching it on the spot would just add back to the soil all the toxic things it has leached out.
Some fungi and bacteria, however, are actually capable of altering the chemical makeup of toxic elements, getting rid of the need for off-site destruction. Once oil-loving fungi are done cleaning up waste, certain kinds are even completely edible. This could be a bonus in parts of the world where waste is high and food supplies are low.
And current bacteria studies have yielded not only environmentally friendly 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 consume petroleum hydrocarbons or harmful dioxins and emit clean H2O and carbon dioxide as waste products. Sometimes the necessary microbes are already available in the soil and just require introducing the proper catalyst to get them to multiply speedily enough to process all of the hydrocarbons. In cases where the right bacteria aren't already in the soil, they can be introduced. Bioremediation professionals such as contaminated groundwater treatment Vienna VA add oxygen and nutrients to the area – as well as the bacteria themselves, when necessary – and the process occurs.
Luckily for humans and their many mistakes, Mother Nature often finds a way to heal – and we are becoming more and more trained at helping it along.