Faster Clean-up for Contaminated Soil in the Arctic

Research helps speed up proven soil-remediation method


In Canada’s Arctic, natural-resource operations such as mining and gas extraction rely on diesel-powered machines to do most of the heavy lifting. When diesel fuel spills and contaminates the soil, industry often uses a method called landfarming to clean it up. In landfarming, crews treat the soil much like farmland: they plow, fertilize, and water it, thus helping the micro- organisms that live in it to break the contaminants down. This process is called biodegradation or bioremediation. Dr. Steve Siciliano is working to help speed up this process. A soil scientist at the University of Saskatchewan, Dr. Siciliano is exploring new ingredients that could be used in landfarming to promote faster biodegradation. Working in close collaboration with Nunatta Environmental Services Inc. the only Inuit owned environmental firm in Nunavut, he is also exploring which combinations of landfarming ingredients work best in summer and in winter. This research will help industry to reduce the environmental impact of the diesel-powered equipment that it uses in Canada’s North.

For the period 2010-11: NSERC contribution, $25,000; industry partners and others, $11,000.