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Home > By DEPARTMENTS > Buildings, Real Estate and Facilities > Brownfields Land Reclamation

Gene Expression Factor (GEF) Cleanup of Contaminated Brownfields Reduces Cost and Time - Biotech Restorations (2)

Gene Expresson Factors provides cost and time solutions for Bioremediation of contaminated soil by promoting microbial enzyme production and the destruction of the target pollutant.

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Gene Expresson Factors
A New Realm of Bioremediation through Biotechnology

(Part 2)

Now that you've explored an applicaton of this biotech solution for Brownfields and polluted soil, let's look at the methodology itself and see why it is a solution worthy of consideration to clean up soil contaminations at a much more reasonable price than has previously been possible.

Affordable Remediation of Brownfields

Gene Expression Factors is affordable and sustainable because they aren't about creating new "bugs", but rather, a more holistic approach that restores beneficial microorganisms to optimal performance in their natural soil habitat.

Where genetic engineering and manipulation endeavor to attach a capability not inherent to the microorganism, Gene Expression Factors simply restore to the microorganism the natural and inherent reductive capabilities that have been inhibited or repressed in the presence of man-made pollutants.

According to in-depth information provided by Chris Young of Biotech Restorations...

Biotech remediation of Brownfield land management sites
A successful pesticides site cleanup near Morgan Hill, CA

Biotech remediation of Brownfield land management sites Another successful pesticide cleanup near San Francisco, CA

Biotech remediation of Brownfield land management sites
Chris Young & Dr. Valerie Paynter, Biotech Restorations

Historically soils and sediments contaminated by persistent organic compounds such as pesticides and PCBs were not considered candidates for bioremediation due to the simple fact that the chemical industry designed these compounds to withstand the destructive effects of weathering and microbial activity.

Although the chemical industry has long appreciated the benefits of persistence afforded by chlorinating a chemical product, the industry failed to appreciate the long-term environmental and potential human health consequences of producing millions of tons of toxic materials that were essentially immune to natural breakdown.

Today PCBs and pesticides are ubiquitous in the environment and while there is little qualified dispute as to the harmful effects of these toxins, there is also a growing body of scientific and medical research that point to a causal relationship between these persistent toxins and human disease.

Dr. Valerie Paynter's Research in Microbiology of Soil Microorganisma

Early in 1992, Dr. Valerie Paynter expanded her research in microbiology to include genetic studies of indigenous soil microorganisms. In her study of soils contaminated by PCBs and pesticides, Dr. Paynter found that viable populations of soil microorganisms are able to survive in contaminated soil but that the organisms are incapable of biologically degrading the pollutants. Additional studies revealed that the presence of chlorinated compounds in the soil has the effect of inhibiting or repressing the microbial genes responsible for enzyme production.

As an essential element in the biological reduction of organics for mineralization and reproduction, it became clear that it is the inability of soil microorganisms to produce reductive enzymes that permit PCBs and pesticides to resist biological breakdown.

For the first time, the physiological mechanisms of designed persistence were becoming known. With this knowledge Dr. Paynter and her research team launched a focused effort to develop a method by which chemically repressed genes could be de-repressed thereby promoting microbial enzyme production and the destruction of the target pollutant. In 1994, the research team succeeded in developing the first Microbial Gene Expression Factor designed to negate chemically induced gene repression and to promote rapid microbial destruction of persistent organic chemicals in treated soils.

This report provides a brief synopsis of four laboratory bench scale and field studies that illustrate the effectiveness of FACTOR TREATMENTS in biologically reducing and eliminating PCBs and pesticides. In addition to the effectiveness of the treatments, the principals of BioTech Restorations (formerly RTE) believe that the economics of Factor Treatments will motivate owners of contaminated sites to take a pro-active position relative to site remediation. Initial modeling suggests potential savings of up to 70% over conventional disposal methods.

Factor Treatment Performance

The first study of a Factor Treatment for an industry client was initiated for a chemical company in 1998. At the company’s Brunswick Georgia plant site, the pesticide Toxaphene (C10H10Cl8) (CAS # 8001-35-2) had been manufactured for more than twenty years until EPA ordered a halt to production in 1980. Across the 350-acre plant site, toxaphene concentrations range from an average of 600 milligrams per kilogram (mg/Kg) or parts per million (ppm) to more than 100,000 ppm. Off site transport of toxaphene by wind and water action has resulted in contamination of adjacent properties including private properties and community common areas. Responding to community and regulatory concerns the chemical company funded a study to identify a Factor Treatment alternative to a proposed $300 million cleanup utilizing conventional site remediation methods (soil incineration & hazardous waste landfill). The toxaphene-contaminated test soil was collected at a former production site where toxaphene concentrations averaged 5,000 ppm. The second Factor Treatment study was initiated in January 2000 for Amtrak Rail. A problem common to may rail carriers is the presence of PCBs in rail facilities arising from operations. At one of Amtrak’s East Coast switching facilities, PCB contamination of soil and the potential for off site contamination convinced management that a remediation effort would be justified. From BioTech Restoration’s perspective, this site was a challenge as the target PCB (Aroclor 1260), is the most highly chlorinated of the Aroclor series (1013-1260). PCB concentrations in the test soils averaged 860 ppm. The third test commenced in February 2000 for a West Virginia utility company that had experienced a transformer leak of PCBs (Aroclor 1254). This study presents a unique challenge as the contaminated site encompasses a saturated marsh area and any future remedial action would necessitate a treatment with the capacity to degrade PCBs under in-situ anaerobic conditions. From a performance perspective, the ability of a Factor Treatment to eliminate PCBs in an anaerobic condition would allow treatment of contaminated soils and sediments at depths too great for excavation/dredging and allow treatment below permanent structures and in marine sediments. PCB concentrations during the test composite averaged greater than 200 ppm.

The fourth test commenced in July 2000 for the US Air Force. At the Air Force Base, soils with an average PCB (Aroclor 1260) concentration of less than 5 ppm were collected. The focus of this study was to determine if a modified Factor Treatment could reduce the PCB levels to less than 1 ppm in 60 to 90 days. As many PCB sites are only nominally contaminated (<25 ppm), owners of these sites are faced with costs that are equal to cleanup costs associated with more highly contaminated sites. A less costly and timely cleanup option would allow owners of marginally contaminated sites to cleanup their sites quickly and at a fraction of the cost of conventional cleanup.

In July 2005, BioTech Restorations applied Factor to the Borello Property, a 14-acre parcel contaminated with Toxaphene and Dieldrin down to 2 feet below ground surface in Morgan Hill, California under a DTSC approved RAW. Toxaphene concentrations were detected greater than 6 ppm and Dieldrin concentrations were detected up to 0.48 ppm. By August 2005, Toxaphene was not detected and Dieldrin concentrations were below 0.017 ppm. The property was formerly closed by the DTSC in October 2005 as an “unrestricted use site.” A copy of the DTSC News Release is attached.

Factor Treatment Performance

In November 2005, BioTech Restorations applied Factor to a 4.5-acre parcel contaminated with Aroclor 1254 and Aroclor 1260 (PCBs) up to 156 ppm in Milpitas, California under a RWQCB approved RAP. The contamination extended down to 5 feet bgs. As of May 2006, remedial performance sampling indicated this property has attained a statistical PCB average over the site of 0.15 ppm. The property is being reviewed by the RWQCB for formal closure. In May 2006, BioTech Restorations applied Factor to the Mantegani Property, a 0.81-acre parcel contaminated with DDT and Dieldrin in South San Francisco under an approved DTSC RAW. DDT was detected up to 5 ppm and Dieldrin was detected up to 0.98 ppm. Remedial performance sampling is anticipated in early June 2006.

Biotech Restoratons for Brownfields
The table illustrates the results of the four Factor Treatment tests.

Each test involved a single Factor Treatment incorporated into the test soil as a dry powder. The test soils were amended to increase organic carbon content and an average moisture level of 23% was maintained during the course of testing. Except in the anaerobic studies, soils were turned every ten days and monitored for microbial activity, pH; moisture content and chloride ion production. In the anaerobic studies, flooding the test chambers with de-gassed water maintained an anaerobic condition. The target contaminants were degraded in a two-step process, the first of which was microbial de-chlorination of the compound followed by rapid destruction of the residual constituent compounds. Because de-chlorination occurs as a first step in the treatment process (confirmed in chloride ion production studies), no problematic intermediate compounds were created during the treatment process.

Conclusions

The tests conducted by BioTech Restorations clearly illustrate that persistent soil borne organic pollutants once thought to be incapable of biological destruction are in fact, excellent candidates for bioremediation. The tests confirm that Factor Treatments are successful in reversing the inhibiting effects of certain chemicals on the microbial genes necessary for reductive enzyme production.

Analysis of the microbial populations in Factor treated soils also suggests that both aerobic and anaerobic microbial populations respond positively to Factor Treatments, although anaerobic populations respond at a slightly slower rate. Aerobic studies suggest that a modified on site land farming treatment could eliminate the necessity for off site disposal and ultimately result in a more complete cleanup as treated soils may be used to “seed” other nominally contaminated areas.

The implications of Gene Expression Factors extend beyond a new site remediation or cleanup option. For years researchers have attempted to create “super bugs” or microorganisms genetically altered to perform functions not inherent to their natural genetic composition. The wisdom of constructing a potential pathogen to eliminate a toxin is questionable wisdom at best. However, in the absence of an understanding of chemically induced gene repression, it’s understandable that research has moved in this direction.

There is a critical distinction to be made between Gene Expression Factors and genetic engineering or genetic manipulation.

Where genetic engineering and manipulation endeavor to attach a capability not inherent to the microorganism, Gene Expression Factors simply restore to the microorganism the natural and inherent reductive capabilities that have been inhibited or repressed in the presence of man-made pollutants.

As BioTech Restorations expands its research, we expect to uncover more answers to questions pertaining to the interrelationship of organic chemicals to a variety of ecosystems and the inhabitants. While past Factor Treatment studies have been performed utilizing powdered formulations, BioTech Restorations plans to conduct future tests utilizing liquid treatments for subsurface injection into less accessible anaerobic zones of contamination. Studies are also planned to monitor the reductive effects of Factor Treatments in contaminated marine sediments.

It’s appropriate that at the beginning of a new millennium a new and better method of eliminating environmental pollutants is at hand. The antiquated practice of burning or burying our environmental problems must be reexamined in light of our knowledge that burn and bury practices are ultimately destructive and merely displace or transfer the inevitable resolution of the problem to future generations. While it’s safe to assume that an industrialized society will generate hazardous wastes, it should also be assumed that advances in dealing with these wastes would be made and adopted.

Biotechnology and Gene Expression Factor Treatments are not a panacea for all environmental problems and certainly site conditions exist where Factor Treatments may not perform well. However, at thousands of sites across the United States this elegantly simple yet effective remediation technology has the potential of significantly reducing site cleanup costs, especially in Brownfield Redevelopment projects. As cost considerations remain the principal factor delaying site cleanup, it stands to reason that a less costly treatment would serve to motivate responsible parties to become more proactive in cleaning up their polluted sites and returning these sites to productivity.

Link to Part 1: "Gene Expression Factor (GEF) Cleanup of Contaminated Brownfields Reduces Cost and Time - Biotech Restorations

Study Principals

BioTech Restorations
Christopher W. Young, President

Dr. Val Paynter
Protocol and Laboratory Director

COMPANY CONTACTS:
BioTech Restorations
137 Cross Center Road, #143
Denver, North Carolina 28037
(704) 489-6538

GeoSolve, Inc
1989 Santa Rita Road, Suite A-165
Pleasanton, California 94566
(925) 963-1198

Robert D. Campbell
President
GeoSolve-inc.com
GeoSolve is the West-Coast distributor for BioTech Restorations with three remediation projects completed using BioTech Restorations solutions.



Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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