Central & Eastern Europe
In 1995, the "Agreement for Technical Exchange and Cooperation
between the Department of Energy of the United States of America and the Institute for
Ecology of Industrial Areas of the Republic of Poland in the Area of Environmental
Restoration and Hazardous Waste Management" was signed to promote international
scientific collaboration. The overall objective of this international partnership is to
assist DOE in meeting its domestic environmental restoration and waste management goals.
Joint Coordinating Committee for Environmental Systems (JCCES)
A Joint Coordinating Committee for Environmental Systems (JCCES) was
established to manage the activities conducted under the auspices of this agreement. The
JCCES meets annually to review and approve proposals, assess program progress, and
determine the level of future activities for implementation. JCCES membership consists of
specialists, from both countries, who represent each technical area of cooperation.
In collaboration with DOE Office of Science and Technology (OST), the
following organizations are contributing to the management and implementation of
activities under the auspices of the JCCES.
- Institute for Ecology and Industrial Areas (IETU)
- Risk Abatement Center for Central and Eastern Europe
- Florida State University, Institute for International Cooperative Environmental Research
Bioremediation of Petroleum Contaminated Soil: The Czechowice Oil Refinery
The Czechowice Oil Refinery Project is being managed and implemented
under the auspices of the JCCES. The project, started in 1997, utilizes the broad
technical expertise of Westinghouse Savannah River Company (WSRC), Ames Laboratory and
Florida State University (FSU). The overall objective of the bioremediation project is to
conduct a full scale remediation demonstration of petroleum contaminated soil at the
Czechowice Oil Refinery using innovative bioremediation technologies. The refinery project
demonstrates not only specific characterization and remediation technologies, but also the
decision making process applied when determining how to implement technology. A risk-based
decision making approach was completed to guide the final selection and remedial design.
This approach provided a plan that will take into account the intended future use of the
site as a green zone between the refinery and the local population.
The refinery project brings together several proven techniques and
remediation tools used to remove and/or destroy contaminants, via biostimulation of
indigenous microbes found in the environment. The basic concepts of this technology are
applicable to sites in the DOE complex having similar problems, especially those with
contaminated soil with low pH levels. These sites include Oak Ridge, Hanford, Savannah
River, Idaho, and Brookhaven.
During the continued operation process of the biopile, numerous unique
indigenous microbes have been discovered. Due to the long operating history of the
refinery and the use of an acid cracking process, indigenous microbial communities have
adapted to the unique low pH environment and low temperature climate. These conditions are
of great interest to DOE since many of DOE wastes are very acidic and vary in climatic
The project has currently identified 36 isolates, which may exhibit
properties and capabilities currently unreported in the scientific literature. Future
microbial analysis and isolation techniques will provide the opportunity to determine if
any of these microorganisms are indeed unique and thus patentable for use at contaminated
DOE sites with conditions similar to those found in Poland. By identifying and patenting
unique microorganisms/bioprocesses, DOE would be ensuring that these organisms are
available for use throughout the DOE complex and the world.
Fiscal Year 1999 Activities
The Fiscal Year 1999 project collaborations between DOE and IETU
include: Effectiveness of Surfactants, Microbial Patentability Study, and the Completion
of a Report on Bioremediation.
Effectiveness of Surfactants
Various surfactants are being evaluated during Fiscal Year 1999.
Candidate surfactants that exhibit a high probability for success will be chosen for use
in the biopile, and their effectiveness will be determined. The refinery site also has
fairly high concentrations of heavy metals in the soil. This allows for the determination
of the effects surfactants have on the mobility of metals.
In conjunction with the continued operation of the biopile, in situ
long term monitoring devices are being deployed in the biopile to determine their
effectiveness in providing long-term hands off data collection. Installation of such
devices in the biopile will generate field performance data, that upon evaluation, could
support immediate deployment of these devices to DOE sites.
Microbial Patentability Study
General microbiological laboratory techniques are being used to isolate
and culture pure strains of each identified microorganism. Once isolated, the unique
properties of each strain are identified (biochemical, physiological, and molecular) and a
literature/patent search will be conducted to determine if the organism and/or a
bioprocess based on the organisms has been isolated or registered previously. The patent
process will continue for those organisms and/or bioprocesses that show scientific promise
and that have not yet been copyrighted.
Completion of a Report on Bioremediation
At the completion of the oil refinery project, a detailed and
comprehensive report will be completed and published. This report will assist the DOE in
identifying new areas of research through which the specific techniques learned during
this study can be applied to the environmental remediation needs of the DOE complex.
Proposed Fiscal Year 2000 Activities
Molecular characterization of acidophillic microbes
One result of the Czechowice Oil Refinery biopile project was the
identification of petroleum hydrocarbon-degrading microbes that are adapted to conditions
of low pH (< 2). These uniquely adapted organisms have potential application to sites
within the DOE complex as well as in industrial settings throughout the U.S., and hence,
it may be possible to license the use of these organisms for commercial use. In order to
evaluate the potential for licensing and commercial application, molecular
characterization studies will be conducted. These studies will be conducted jointly
between the IETU and WSRC. The various responsibilities for the characterization
activities will be divided between the IETU and WSRC, with the final product being an
application for a patent.
Bioremediation of Nitroaromatic Compounds
Nitroaromatic compounds are common and widespread contaminants at
industrial and military sites worldwide, and within the DOE complex. As a result of the
on-going activities at the Czechowice Oil Refinery biopile project, IETU and DOE have
well-developed microbiological capabilities at their disposal. The application of
bioremediation to nitroaromatic compounds will be examined and studied for potential
future use at DOE sites.
Phytoremediation Project: An Integrated Approach to the
Remediation of Heavy Metal Contaminated Land
Under the auspices of the JCCES, a phytoremediation project was
initiated to demonstrate alternative environmental remediation technologies to Poland and
other countries in the region. This project combines the DOE need for an effective and
efficient technology to remediate moderate levels of heavy metal contamination with
IETUs experience and qualification in this area. The goal of this project is to
evaluate and refine phytoremediation as a method to remediate heavy metal contaminated
soil in an efficient and cost-effective manner for application at DOE sites.
The basic research of phytoremediation has lead to interest in the commercialization of
this technology for environmental remediation. Considerable research has been reported on
the laboratory-scale application of phytoremediation, however little information is
available concerning the cost, performance, and advantages of a full-scale application. An
objective of this project was the optimization of full-scale application of
phytoremediation and the development and documentation of those results. Different species
of plants, which have the ability to uptake and sequester moderate to large levels of
heavy metals into their plant structure, are being evaluated. In addition, the effects of
Ethylenedinitro Tetraacetic Acid (EDTA) to increase the availability of these metals to
the plants and the use of a Chlorophyll Flurometer to optimize the phytoremediation
process was also investigated. The target metal for this project is lead, although cadmium
(Cd) is also being evaluated.
Site Identification and Treatability Study
Using the existing IETU database on soil contamination in the Katowice
province, DOE and IETU evaluated four potential sites for this project. Candidate sites
were initially identified based on existing vegetation (indicating potential plant
growth); minimal relief; proximity to a water source and electric supply; road access; Pb
(Lead) concentrations between 500 and 5000 ppm; and contamination limited to the top 30 cm
of soil. IETU collected five soil samples from each of the candidate sites for a suite of
analyses. Based on these results, and in consultation with FSU and Phytotech, two
candidate sites were selected for further characterization and treatability studies.
In 1997, treatability studies were conducted using soil samples
collected from the two candidate sites. These studies determined the potential
applicability of phytoremediation by providing further characterization of the soil
samples, determining if the sites would support the growth of metal-accumulating plants,
and analyzing the need for soil amendments to optimize the phytoremediation process. The
treatability studies consisted of two experimental activities; soil sampling and analysis
and growth chamber experiments which included soil amendments application. The purpose of
the growth chamber studies was to evaluate the growth potential of selected plant species
and to determine the soil amendment protocol necessary to optimize plant growth and heavy
metal uptake. The tests indicated that: (a) both of the selected sites were able to
support growth of all plant species tested; (b) that the most efficient amendment was the
combination of 5 mmol EDTA/kg and 50 mmol HNO3/kg; (c) that independent of the amendment
selected, spinach accumulated the highest concentrations of Pb and Cd in its shoots; and
(d) that corn, spinach, and cabbage with rape would be the best to use for the field-scale
experiments of phytoremediation.
Upon selection of the final site, additional field tests were
performed. Three plant species and three soil treatment strategies were tested in 3x3
meter field plots. Based on the results of these experiments, two plant species/treatment
combinations were selected for full-scale evaluation.
At the completion of site and species/treatment selection, a
field-scale demonstration was conducted to identify and quantify the relative costs and
performance of phytoremediation. The field-demonstration plot consisted of a one-hectare
area with lead concentrations ranging from 200-500 mg/kg. All costs associated with the
effort were recorded in generic units (e.g., man-hours, tractor-hours, volume of amendment
applied, etc). Initial analysis of these results show that amendments represent a large
portion of the costs associated with phytoremediation.
Metal Accumulating Species Screening
In conjunction with the field demonstration, the project has conducted
additional investigation of potential heavy metal accumulating plant species native to
Poland. The goal of these studies was to identify plant species that maximize the overall
removal of metal from soil. These investigations were based on the assumption that plants
growing naturally in historically contaminated areas (such as the mine tailings piles and
soils adjacent to smelting operations found in the Silesian region of Poland) may have
adapted to high metals concentrations by absorbing those metals. Based on decisions made
cooperatively between the IETU, Phytotech and the Polish Institute for Plant Growth, 26
plant species were chosen for investigation. Among these species, one particular culture
of Polish sunflower performed the best, taking up concentrations of lead that compare with
the best known metal accumulating plant species while producing large quantities of
Evaluation of Soil Amendment: EDTA
Traditional phytoremediation relies heavily on soil
amendments/chelating agents to mobilize otherwise unavailable metals from soil. One of the
most commonly used amendments is EDTA. Prior to this project, concern had been raised over
the potential effects of repeated application of EDTA on the environment. The DOE/IETU
team, in cooperation with the University of Silesia, evaluated those effects by
determining the toxicity of soil amendments to soil microbiota. These studies are the
first of their kind and showed that no adverse effects of EDTA were observed on soil
microbiota. It was shown that, in specific situations, there was enhanced microbial
activity following amendment application, possibly as a result of increased availability
of essential nutrients. These results were promising and addressed concerns raised
previously by U.S. regulators on the effects of EDTA on the soil community.
Optimization of Phytoremediation with Chlorophyll Flurometry
An ongoing aspect of the phytoremediation project has been the
integration of in situ monitoring instrumentation with the field activities. An innovative
field-portable Chlorophyll Fluorometer has been developed by the Technical University of
Budapest and is being commercialized by Central European Advanced Technologies. This
instrument has been deployed in conjunction with the past phytoremediation experiments.
Activities focused on optimizing the timing and magnitude of amendment application by
monitoring plant stress. As noted previously, amendment costs represent a significant
portion of project costs and, as such, anything that reduces amendment use increases the
cost efficiency of phytoremediation. Other significant findings were that crops seem to be
more sensitive to irrigation than was previously presumed and that a longer delay between
amendment application and harvesting may enhance overall metal removal.
Plant Species/Soil Amendment Investigations
Based on the prior results of field and plant screening activities, the
project team continued investigations at both laboratory and field scale to optimize plant
species and amendment protocol combinations. The most promising results of this research
concerns the utilization of compounds that enhance plant metabolism and increase
respiration. These compounds appear to enhance the uptake of metals in combinations with
Fiscal Year 1999 Activities
The Fiscal Year 1999 project collaborations between DOE and IETU
include: Continuation of Evaluation of Soil Amendment: EDTA, Management of Contaminated
Crops, Amendment Application Technology, Streamlined Site Characterization and
Treatability Studies, Soil and Plant Amendment Studies, and U.S. Field Deployment of
Continuation of Evaluation of Soil Amendment: EDTA
The current process for heavy metal phytoextraction involves the
application of chelating agents and acids to the target soils in order to enhance the
uptake of heavy metals by the plants. The need for multiple crops of these
phytoremediating plants over numerous growing seasons presents the possibility of adverse
ecological impacts from the effects of repetitive applications.
Soil microbial toxicity tests are being conducted using current
phytoextraction soil amendments. Further investigations on soil biology are being
performed with respect to the identification of EDTA levels that are toxic to
microbiologic and metabolic soil activity. During the course of laboratory experiments, it
is planned to determine the EDTA dose which results in a breakdown of soil biological
activity. The results of these studies will be integrated into an ecological risk
assessment for this technology.
Management of Contaminated Crops
After harvesting, phytoremediation plant material contains relatively
high concentrations of metals and must be treated as a hazardous material with the
appropriate handling considerations. Various methods for harvesting and disposing of the
contaminated plants are being investigated. Harvesting considerations include timing the
harvest to minimize material loss through plant tissue aging and decomposition, managing
the physical harvesting to maximize the recovery of contaminated material while using
standard agricultural methods, and handling the harvested materials to minimize loss and
exposure to human and non-human health.
Amendment Application Technology
As previously reported, the application of amendments associated with
phytoremediation contributes significantly to the costs of applying phytoextraction
technologies. Those costs are a function of the cost of the materials as well as the
labor-intensive methods currently used in the application process. The project team is
developing a mechanized approach to the amendment application that utilizes modified
agricultural equipment and should result in a faster, more uniform and accurate
application of amendments to target soils.
A design protocol is being developed that will be tested under full
field conditions during the FY1999 growing season. This prototype will result in new
technology standards that can be used to evaluate various phytoremediation scenarios
independent of specific technology providers.
Streamlined Site Characterization and Treatability Studies
Site characterization activities and treatability studies currently are
conducted sequentially prior to the initiation of phytoextraction. The purpose of these
activities is to describe the nature and extent of contamination at the target site and to
determine under what conditions the proposed plant species will extract the target
contaminants. This process is time consuming and expensive. This activity is developing an
approach that integrates these two activities into a single effort leading to rapid
decisions concerning the feasibility of phytoextraction for a given site, while reducing
both effort and cost.
Soil and Plant Amendment Studies
During this project, new specialized plants species and soil amendments
were identified that show promise in phytoextraction. These practices are being applied to
a field scale demonstration to evaluate their effectiveness and costs. The results will be
compared to the previous demonstrations, ensuring the promotion of the most efficient and
cost-effective practices. In addition, the information acquired by the streamlined site
characterization and treatability studies are being used to support the deployment of
these identified species/amendments.
In conjunction with these studies, the project is continuing to screen
native plant species with promising metal accumulating capabilities. This involves
selecting, collecting, and raising native species at laboratory and/or experimental plot
scales. Target species are being raised in heavy metal-contaminated soils which will then
be harvested and analyzed for metal concentrations. The applicability of winter crops is
also being investigated for the potential of producing an additional harvest each year.
U.S. Field Deployment of Phytoremediation
A goal of this task is to identify and evaluate environmental
remediation technologies which have potential application to DOE sites. It is anticipated
that phytoextraction is ready for field application at a DOE site, and a site
identification process is being conducted. This includes identifying an appropriate DOE
site based on the applicability of phytoextraction, developing working relationships with
technical and support contacts, and initiating the necessary DOE permitting processes.
After the site is identified and the site characterization process is completed, a test
plan and treatability study will be conducted. It is anticipated that field-demonstration
studies could be implemented in the U.S. during Fiscal Year 2000.
Proposed Fiscal Year 2000 Activities
Computerized Application of Soil Amendments (Phytoremediation)
Results from the 1998 Phytoremediation field studies indicate that
approximately 70% of the cost of phytoremediation is associated with the purchasing and
application of soil amendments. Since the need for amendments is a function of soil metal
concentration and speciation, it would be possible to minimize the use of amendments if
information concerning the nature and distribution of soil metals were used to control the
application of amendments. The automated amendment application technology that has been
developed by the IETU will be modified to accept computerized input to control application
rates. It is estimated that amendment application rates could be reduced by as much as
50%, yielding an overall reduction of up to 30% of the cost of phytoremediation. On-going
analysis of native plant species for metal accumulation capabilities would also continue.
Evaluation of Novel Mercury Remediation Technology
Mercury contamination is wide spread within the DOE complex, at many
other federal facilities, and at industrial facilities throughout the world. A consulting
firm in Poland has developed a technology for reducing the bioavailability of ionic forms
of mercury in groundwater (and possibly, soil). This technology shows promise for reducing
the risks posed by certain forms of mercury contamination and is
ready for field-testing. Preliminary discussions with the developers indicate that an
industrial site in Southern Poland may be suitable for field testing this technology.
Appropriate site characterization studies will be conducted to determine whether or not
this site would be appropriate for field testing of this technology. If the results of
this evaluation are positive, initial set-up and testing will be conducted in anticipation
of full field testing in Fiscal Year 2001.
The first Joint Coordinating Committee for Environmental Systems (JCCES) was held
in Augusta, Georgia on April 26, 1999. The meeting focused on the two joint projects
between DOE and IETU; the Bioremediation Project and the Phytoremediation Project.
An overview was provided of the current Czechowice Oil Refinery Project which was
initiated in 1995/96. Initial efforts included the selection of the oil refinery,
expedited site characterization, completion of a risk assessement, and determination of
the bioremediation technology. The following benefits were noted:
- Deployment of Baroball aeration system
- Isolation of 30 strains of microbes capable of degradation at low temperature and pHs
- Permission from the State of South Carolina to use Biopile technology at SRS for remediation of petroleum contaminated soils
It was mutually agreed that the following projects would be implemented by IETU in
Fiscal Year 2000 in the area of bioremediation:
- Production-Scale Implementation of Petroleum Contaminated Soils Bioreactor
- Molecular Characterization of Acidophillic Microbes
- Bioremediation of Nitroaromatic Compounds
A general overview as well as a technical presentation were given on
the details of the phytoremediation project. It was confirmed that the remaining
phytoremediation activities for FY1999 include the following:
- Treatment of a "third" crop which was planted during the winter of 1998
- Continue to research and obtain detailed composting information
- Apply and evaluate mechanized application process
- Working on identifying a U.S. DOE site in FY1999 for potential deployment
It was mutually agreed that the following projects would be implemented
by IETU in Fiscal Year 2000 in the area of phytoremediation:
- Cost-Effective Phytoremediation (computerized application of soil amendments)
- Evaluation of Novel Mercury Remediation technology
It was mutually agreed that the Second JCCES will be held in approximately one year.
The Development and Field-Testing of a Highly Specialized Chlorophyll
Fluorometer for Measuring Environmental Stress on Plants
The project is being conducted by Central European Advanced
Technologies and the Department of Atomic Physics of the Technical University of Budapest.
Chlorophyll Fluorescence can be used to measure plant stress and can
provide real time, in situ information concerning the effects of the phytoremediation
process on the plants. By optimizing the phytoremediation process, a more efficient,
cost-effective operating system can be developed. In June 1997, a progress report was
submitted entitled, "Development of Field Measurement Program, Conduct IETU Training
and Evaluation of Field Performance of Prototype Instrument," which included
information about placing the system into operation, finalizing the measurement program,
training of an IETU technician, and performance of the instrument in the field. This
report assisted the IETU/DOE team in the application of a Chlorophyll Fluorometer to their
EM is continuing a project with the Czech Technical University at
Prague to evaluate the performance and radiation and chemical stability of
Polyacrylonitrile (PAN) as a binder material for inorganic ion exchange such as AMP. This
material has been tested for removal of cesium from acid wastes at Idaho National Energy
and Engineering Laboratory (INEEL) and showed exceptional removal efficiencies and
capabilities for cesium. Studies of the compatibility of PAN with alkaline solutions
indicated that the presence of high nitrate concentrations causes some changes in
material; PAN appears to be more stable in acid solutions like those found at DOE sites.
The early development and testing of PAN was supported by the Efficient Separation and
Processing Crosscutting Program (ESP) and subsequent testing was continued by the Waste
Management Program at INEEL. Annual progress reports were issued during the ESP work, and
several papers were presented at appropriate technical meetings. The results are
summarized in a paper entitled "Applications of New Inorganic-Organic Composite
Absorbers with Polyacrylonitrile Binding Matrix for Separation of Radionuclides from
Liquid Radioactive Wastes" which was presented at the NATO conference at Dubna in
1998. This project is being continued through FY2000, with continuous testing to determine
the optimization for the degradation process.
Review of Advanced Separations Technologies in the Czech Republic
Under a contract with EM, the Czech Nuclear Research Institute
conducted a Review of Advance Separations Technologies in the Czech Republic
project. The review covers technologies in use or under development that deal with solvent
extraction, ion exchange, and adsorption.
Jack Watson, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 423/574-6795