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Water Contamination
Soil Contamination
How Bioremediation Works
Types of Bioremediation
Alternatives to Bioremediation
Exxon Valdez


     A big part of the reason that bioremediation is becoming an increasingly popular choice for contamination cleanup is the fact that it is much more cost-effective than the alternatives.  In most cases, it provides a more permanent solution at a lower cost than the alternatives. 

Bioremediation Costs

It is important to understand that these figures are only ballpark and estimated figures.  The actual costs will vary depending on the conditions at the contamination site. 

In  Situ Bioremediation - ~ $50 USD per cubic metre

Ex Situ Bioremediation

     Slurry Phase -  ~ $130 - $200 USD per cubic metre.  Note that this price increases slightly (to $160 - $210 per cubic metre) if the contaminants are volatile enough to require additional treatment of the gas given off by the bioreactor. 

     Solid Phase

          Landfarming - No matter what size of contamination you are dealing with, there is going to be a $25,000 to $50,000 cost to do lab testing of things like the soil, contaminants, etc.  There will also be a cost of less than $100,000 for field tests to make sure that it will work as planned.  After that, the cost is less that $100 per cubic metre.

          Biopiling -  These are fairly simple with a small maintenance staff and the cost is between $130 - $260 per cubic metre. 

          Composting -  The windrow method is the cheapest, costing ~$145 per cubic metre.  Stack pile composting and mechanically agitated composting are more expensive, with costs ranging from $180 - $220 per cubic metre.

     Once again, these figures are very rough.  It is very difficult to come up with a cost because there are so many variables involved in each situation. 


Alternative Costs

     Incineration - Incineration costs, unfortuately are measured in $/ton.  The cost of incineration is roughly around $740 per ton.  This is an estimated number because the cost would depend on so many factors.  The cost of incineration is approximately 2 to 3 times that of most bioremediation costs. 

     Landfill Dumping - Landfill dumping is fairly expensive due to high tipping fees.  Landfills do not really want all of that hazardous waste and contaminants.  For this reason, they charge anyone that does decide to dump those things in the landfill a lot of money.  typically tipping fees for hazardous contaminants are $11- $31 per cubic metre. You should also recognize that this does not include the cost of excavating the contaminated soil nor the cost of transporting the excavated soil to the landfill.  It also does not include the cost of hiring people to cary out the disposal of the contaminated soil.  These things really drive up the cost, making it much more expensive than most forms of bioremdiation.

     Thermal treatment - Thermal treatment usually costs between $23 - $46 per cubic metre.  This figure only describes the cost of heating the soil.  It does not include costs like excavation, handling, and transportation.  These drastically increase the cost of the overall procedure, making it also much more expensive than most types of bioremdiation. 

     Burial - The cost of the burial of the contaminated soil is actually about the same as the bioremediation average, maybe even less in some cases.  However, the burial of the contaminated soil does not solve the problem of the contamination.  It simply postpones the problem.  Therefore, these costs cannot be justified if bioremediation is also an option.  It does not make sense to bury the contamination in a different location for the same price (approximately) that you could permanently get rid of the problem.

Not only are these alternatives much more expensive than bioremediation, they also cost the environment a lot more as well.  None of the alternatives can offer the cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and permanent solution in the same way that bioremediation does.