Bioremediation is the microbial, metabolic transformation of organic compounds to less harmful/more desirable constituents, such as water and carbon dioxide. For eons, nature has used this mechanism to cleanse the earth and restore balances necessary for life as we know it. Albeit slow and typically unpredictable, it is effective and man has harnessed this ability for use in his baking, brewing, curing, cheese making, and dairy industries. Today, the connotation of bioremediation is commonly understood as a means of ridding the environment (soils and groundwaters) of undesired natural or man-made contaminants characterized as pollutants; this is accomplished either actively or through natural attenuation.
In the late 60’s, a group of dedicated scientists/engineers working for Sun Oil Company was attempting to isolate petroleum hydrocarbon utilizing bacteria to study their in-situ growth and rate optimization requirements. Under the leadership of Richard Raymond (considered by many to be the Father of In-situ Bioremediation), petri dish isolation/ selection and stirred reactor techniques were used to determine the most effective strains and their degrading capabilities of various contaminants. In 1967-68 (before the formation of the EPA in 1970), a major transfer pipeline in Fort Washington, PA ruptured and many gallons of pure gasoline were released into an artesian well system. Mr. Raymond’s group was called upon to evaluate the possibilities for success in utilizing their newly developed technology. Armed with sugar, urea, phosphates, and soapstones for aeration, they proved the viability of the concept and the site was eventually remediated (mechanical enhancements were also used to accelerate the cleanup). The task was daunting, laborious, and highly stressful, but this group laid the groundwork to allow future technologies to emerge. One of the founders of ERC was a member of that team.
Since this initial breakthrough in in-situ bioremediation, many attempts to simulate the cleanup and/or enhance its protocols have been proffered. The utilization of aerobic vs. anaerobic bacteria, oxidation vs. reduction, indigenous vs. exogenous strains, bio-stimulation, bio-venting, bio-slurping, barrier walls, natural vs. augmented, and active vs. natural attenuation are but a few of the attempts to gain more insight into this powerful remediation tool. New classes of contaminants (chlorinated solvents, PCBs, TCPs, dioxane, dioxin, PAHs, MTBE, PCPs, pesticides, etc.) are also being considered, with varying degrees of success; most of the practitioners have limited insight into the workings of the microbial world. Their flawed strategies have failed to define the role of the organism and to optimize that role through co-treatment additions, population dominance, and kinetic transport mechanisms.
ERC has looked at that attempt in Fort Washington over 40 years ago, and at the subsequent attempts on various pollutant profiles, and has tried to define/address all of their shortcomings in one treatment train; the optimized result is our Bio-Integration® technology. We use pure strains of facultative bacteria, we grow them ex-situ to specified concentrations, we ensure viability, we supply proper amendments, we desorb contaminants to provide greater bioavailability, and we provide both passive and kinetic transport. The consequence of these improvements is a remediation that is all encompassing, a remediation that is fast, and a remediation that is predictable, engendering more confidence for success from both regulators and end users. ERC has taken all of the negatives and transformed them into positives for our clients, for future generations, and for the environment.