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Alternatives to Bioremdiation

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

There are several alternatives to bioremediation, although most are more costly.  They are more expensive to implement and are harder on the environment.  Also, some of them do not take care of the problem, but rather merely move it or delay dealing with it.  None of the alternatives can offer the permanant solution that you get from bioremediation (usually) at an equally low cost. 

Limiting Use and Production

     Limiting the production of the potential contaminants is an idealistic alternative.  The best way to stop contamination is to stop making and using the contaminants.  However, this is not always possible and is certainly does not always happen.  Sometimes, in certain situations, harsh chemicals are the only means of getting a job done.  Although this does occur sometimes, in most cases there is an environmentally friendly alternative.  However, much of the time this evironmentally friendly alternative is not used because it typically cost more than the harsh chemical method.  This leaves the business people with a tough decision to make.  They must choose either to pay more for a healthier environment or pay less and risk contaminating the envrionment.  Most of the time the cheaper route is taken.  This happens because business people often feel that they are paying more and not getting anything directly in return.  They often feel that it is not fair that they have to pay for a cleaner environment and no one else does.  However, this is not true of all businesses.  More and more businesses are realizing the seriousness of industrial dumping, etc. and are trying to do their part for a better environment. 


An Incinerator

     Incineration is another alternative method of dealing with contaminants.  It basically involves the burning of the soil, a process which separates the contaminants from the soil by evapouration.  These contaminants are usually then sucked up by air pollution control systems. This prevents the contaminants from evapourating into the atmosphere.  Without this system of gathering the contaminants, they would be carried downwind of the contaminated site and would eventually fall to the ground as rainfall.

     Another method that is much the same as incineration/burning is called thermal treatment.  It involves heating up the contaminated soil to 250-700 degrees Fahrenheit.  Thermal treatment is different from incineration only in the fact that there is not any actual burning of the soil.  The soil is merely heated, it is not burnt. 

Landfill Dumping

This picture shows contaminated soil being dumped into a landfill

     Dumping is not a very environmentally friendly solution.  It involves the excavation of the all of the contaminated soil.  This soil is then taken to a landfill and dumped there.  As you can see, this does not actually solve the problem, but rather it just moves it to another location.  This is very bad for the environment, especially when it tis compared to bioremediation.  With all of that soil just sitting in a landfill, it could easily spread to other locations through groundwater.  If the area that the landfill is in experiences a heavy rainfall, some of the contaminants could be washed away out of the landfill or, even worse, could be washed into the groundwater and carried away that way.  Also, dumping toxic/hazardous contaminants in a landfill can be very expensive.  See Costs page for more information on costs. 



     Burial is much the same as landfill dumping.  It involves the burial of the contaminated soil in what is designate as an appropriate area.  This also does not solve the problem.  It is simply a relocation of the problem.  Contaminants can easily spread in the case of excessive rainfall.  The extra moisture in the soil can cause the contaminants to be carried into the groundwater and they can then spread quite quickly.  It is definately not a permanent solution and it is not a very good temporary solution.