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Use of Commercial Bioremediation Agents for Cleanup of Oil-Contaminated
Estuarine Environments
Xuequing Zhu, Albert D. Venosa and Makram
T. Suidan, National Risk Management Research
Laboratory Office of Research and Development
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The objective of this document is to conduct a comprehensive review of the use of commercial bioremediation products treating oil spills in all environments. Literature assessed includes peer reviewed articles, company reports, government reports, and reports by cleanup contractors engaged in responses to oilspills. The scope of this review is in the general context of estuarine environments. However, marine shorelines, terrestrial environments, freshwaters, and wetlands are frequent candidates for bioremediation of spilled oil, and these ecosystems are also included in the review for completeness. The review will be useful for oil spill responders (e.g., on-scene coordinators and response contractors) to better understand the feasibility of bioremediation technology and as an aid in selecting bioremediation products.

This state-of-science review on the efficacy of bioremediation products is conducted using different approaches and presented accordingly as follows. Section 1 provides an overall introduction of the background and the scope of this review. Section 2 presents an in-depth review of field tests of bioremediation products based on the scientific literature, which includes peerreviewed journal articles, books, and major conference proceedings. Section 3 evaluates oil bioremediation products based on the nonpeer reviewed literature articles gathered, such as government agency reports and vendor/service provider reports. Finally, Section 4 gives the conclusions and recommendations based on the reviewed information.

The extreme uncertainty associated with the efficacy of bioremediation agents is due in large part to the poorly designed field tests that have been conducted to demonstrate efficacy. Much of the reported literature either lacked proper controls and quality assurance, or the data were incorrectly analyzed. If there is any hope for advancement of commercial bioremediation, experiments based on sound scientific principles are needed. Unfortunately, due to the extreme resource intensiveness of field studies, the benefit accruing to testing one bioremediation agent is only applicable to the one product being tested. Testing products in the field is not within the purview of the federal government unless such a test has the potential of advancing science in terms of generalmicrobiological and engineering principles.

If anyone wishes to read the full articles, it is available as a PDF file in the ENVIS Centre website: www.envismadrasuniv.org

ENVIS CENTRE Newsletter Vol.6, No 1 March 2008 Back 
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