RemBac Environmental LLC provides sustainable, eco-friendly materials and expertise for in situ bioremediation of sediments and soils contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a potentially toxic pollutant. Our patented product, bioamended activated carbon (BAC), provides three critical advantages for site remediation: 1) the combined action of naturally occurring PCB degrading bacteria with activated carbon both degrades and sequesters PCBs to mitigate their toxicity, 2) the approach is cost effective and can be used as an alternative or in combinaiton with current technologies for PCB treatment such as dredging and capping, and; 3) it meets the growing demand for sustainable treatment alternatives with a lower carbon footprint and reduced risk to human health and the environment.
HOW BAC WORKS
Biological degradation of PCBs in the environment occurs by anaerobic dechlorination of highly chlorinated congeners followed by the aerobic degradation of the dechlorination products. However, a key bottleneck is the low native abundance of PCB degrading bacteria found naturally in sediments. Treatment with bioamended AC enhances the natural degradation of PCBs by increasing the numbers of PCB anaerobic dechlorinating and aerobic degrading bacteria in the contaminated sediment. The microbes are grown in high volume bioreactors, concentrated by centrifugation or filtration and shipped to the field for deployment. The bioamendments occur naturally in the environment and are non-GMO and non-pathogenic. (U.S. Patent No. 6,946,248, 7,462,480 B2)
BIOAMENDED ACTIVATED CARBON
Bioamendments can be applied to PCB impacted enrivonments by several methods. The most common method for treating sediments is to pre-apply the bioamendments to pellets of AC agglomerated pellets (SediMite™) or apply the bioamendments at the site. (U.S. Patent No. 8,945,906)
There are several options for deploying bioamended pellets into sediments depending on the site. These can include a ventrui horn induction system, telebelt or boat mounted pellet broasdcaster or a combination of these approaches. Bioamendments can also be applied to granular AC for direct tilling into sediment or soil. Bioamended AC can be rapidly deployed at relatively low expense and generates a minimal carbon footprint.
EFFECT OF BIOREMEDIATION ON PCBS
The highly absorptive quality of AC combined with the accelerated rate of PCB degradation by the bioamendment provides sufficient dosing with minimal material. The bioamended AC is applied to sediments forming a reactive barrier layer over the PCB contaminated sediment. In the short term the bioamended AC sequesters and degrades any PCBs that diffuse from the PCB contaminated sediment; over the longer term the bioamended AC is mixed into the contaminated sediment by natural bioturbation and remains there as a barrier that effectively inhibits movement of residual PCBs into the food chain.
RemBac will assess the PCB impacted site to determine whether bioremediation is a suitable treatment option either alone or incombination with other treatment options. We also work with the client to determine the best application method and dosage for a specific site.
RemBac will provide the required dosage of microorganisms and activated carbon to treat the PCB contaminated site. We also work closely with the client and site contractor on logistics including staging, equipment requirments and application.
RemBac will advise clients on appropriate post-assessments required to monitor the effectiveness of the treatment and assist with interpretation of data for reports to stakeholders and regulators.
PILOT SCALE TREATMENT OF A WETLAND DRAINAGE CREEK IN QUANTICO, VA
A pilot test was initiated in 2015 at a wetlands drainage creek containing Aroclor 1254/1260 at concentrations up to 5 mg/kg. Initial in situ treatments in 400 sq. m. plots achieved up to 52% reduction in total PCB levels and 78% reduction in porewater concentrations in the benthic zone after 13 months. No significant changes were observed in untreated and abiotic sediment plots.
BIOREMEDIATION OF PCBS IN A SLUDGE DIGESTION POND, VA
Pilot tests to determine the efficacy of bioaugmentation have been ongoing since 2012 at a 6 acre emergency overflow pond containing Aroclor 1242/1248 at concentrations up to 2400 mg/kg. Initial in situ tests in 2.8 sq. ft. caissons showed 275 mg/kg (80%) reduction of PCBs in the top 6 inches and 569 mg/kg (42%) reduction of PCBs in the bottom 6 inches 519 days after treatment. A Phase II pilot test begun using 80 sq. ft. caissons to identify optimal treatment conditions resulted in 57% reduction in PCBs from 1031 to 439 mg/kg in 28 months.
KURE ATOLL, HI
The goal of the treatment was to reduce potential PCB exposure from a scrap metal dump contaminated with Aroclor 1260 to marine life in the vicinity of Green Island in the Kure Atoll. Due to the very remote location of this contaminated material was transferred to a lined landfill on the island and treated by in-situ bioremediation. The PCB level was reduced by 36% (1.8 to 1.1 mg/kg) within the first 179 days. The effect of treatment continues to be monitored in lab mesocosms containing post-bioamended cores from the site.
CONTAMINATED RIVER SEDIMENTS IN SOUTHEAST MICHIGAN
Aroclor 1248 was discharged in industrial wastewater into a river and nearby wetlands until the late 1970s and the site was placed on the National Priorities List (NPL; aka Superfund) in 1983. Treatability studies conducted in 2 L sediment mesocosms from two sites in the river demonstrated that treatment with BAC reduced PCB levels 70 and 78 % by mass in 180 days. Bioaugmentation also reduced the aqueous bioavailable PCB levels by 90 and 93% in sediments from the two sites tested.
A STREET CHANNEL, WILMINGTON DE
For this Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control sponsored project a tidal wetlands channel contaminated with PCBs was treated with bioamended GAC to reduce the potential for contamination of the Christiana River. Approximately 6.5MT of bioamended SediMite was applied with a modified venturi air mover. Treatment effectiveness is being monitored in sediment cores and by passive sampling. For more info: https://www.facebook.com/rembacenvironmental/videos/477699982996365/?modal=admin_todo_tour
Kevin R. Sowers, Ph.D., is president and co-founder of RemBac Environmental. Dr. Sowers has over 30 years experience in anaerobic microbiology and has expertise in the selection and isolation of PCB dechlorinating microorganisms and development of methods for application of microbes in the field.
Upal Ghosh is Secretary/treasurer of RemBac Environmental, a new start-up company. He has over 20 year experience in environmental engineering and science with a focus on the fate, effects, and remediation of toxic pollutants in the environment. He is also president of a small business, Sediment Solutions, LLC., which has been operating for 7 years.
3140 Edgewood Rd
Ellicott City, Howard County 21043