Bob Godwin and Jeff Thorpe, Saskatchewan Research Council
The phytoremediation (i.e., plant–assisted bioremediation) of hydrocarbon contaminated soils is a steadily emerging technology that shows promise as an effective and low-cost alternative to most engineering techniques and traditional bioremediation methods. Recently, however, Frick et al. (1999a) identified several significant “research gaps” in the published literature, including the fact that very few studies have been conducted on the phytoremediation of petroleum hydrocarbons in Canada. Indeed, Frick et al. (1999a, 1999b) identified only 12 plants native to the Prairie Ecozone
(and five introduced plant species) that have a demonstrated potential for use in the phytoremediation of oil-contaminated soils. However, only two of the species with a proven ability to act as phytoremediators (red fescue and poplar trees) have been identified as being native to the Boreal Plain Ecozone (Frick et al., 1999b). The cold climate and short growing season characteristic of the major oil and gas producing regions of western Canada make it particularly important to conduct phytoremediation research on plants adapted to the Canadian climate. Thus, these findings underscore the need for new research initiatives to assess the potential of phytoremediation as a method of remediating petrochemical contaminated sites in western Canada. In addition, they suggest that any assessment of phytoremediation in western Canada should stress both grassland and boreal forest species. As a result of the general lack of knowledge regarding the selection and availability of plants suitable for phytoremediation under Canadian climatic and ecological conditions, a survey of several contaminated sites in central Alberta was conducted in 1999. The objective of the site surveys was to determine which plant species were growing on, or in the immediate vicinity of, these sites.
2000 UoS_Phytoremediation as an InSitu Technique for Cleaning OilContaminated Sites_Final Report