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Assessments of the Efficacy of a Long-Term Application of a Phytoremediation System Using Hybrid Poplar Trees at Former Oil Tank Farm Sites

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A poplar tree-phytoremediation system was installed at former refinery and tank farm sites in Cabin Creek, West Virginia, to clean-up petroleum-contaminated-soils and groundwater. Groundwater and soils in both sites were sampled and analyzed on a regular basis to monitor changes in contaminant concentration since 1999. The concentration of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene, and gasoline range organics (GRO) decreased an average of 81%, 90%, 67%, 78%, and 82%, respectively, in the lower soil horizons and 34%, 84%, 12%, 19%, and 59%, respectively, in groundwater. In addition, concentrations of oxygen, methane, and carbon dioxide in soil gas demonstrated that tree roots dewatered soils and allowed penetration of oxygen deep into the soil profile, creating necessary conditions for rhizosphere bioremediation. Although required clean-up time can limit phytoremediation, it has proven to be a cost-effective strategy for site improvement if imminent pathways for human exposure and risk are not an issue.
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Keywords: BTEX; Phytoremediation; benzene; contaminated sites; diesel range organics; ethylbenzene and xylene; gasoline range organics; groundwater contamination; poplar trees; soil contamination; toluene

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 May 2009

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  • Water Environment Research (WER) is published monthly, including an annual Literature Review. A subscription to WER includes access to the latest content back to 1992, as well as access to fast track articles. An individual subscription is valid for 12 months from month of purchase.

    Water Environment Research (WER) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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