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Keywords:

  • oil bioremediation;
  • hydrocarbon degradation;
  • marine contamination;
  • soil contamination;
  • groundwater contamination

Abstract

Bioremediation has become a major method employed in restoration of oil-polluted environments that makes use of natural microbial biodegradative activities. Bioremediation of petroleum pollutants overcomes the factors limiting rates of microbial hydrocarbon biodegradation. Often this involves using the enzymatic capabilities of the indigenous hydrocarbon-degrading microbial populations and modifying environmental factors, particularly concentrations of molecular oxygen, fixed forms of nitrogen, and phosphate to achieve enhanced rates of hydrocarbon biodegradation. Biodegradation of oily sludges and bioremediation of oil-contaminated sites has been achieved by oxygen addition—e.g., by tilling soils in landfarming and by adding hydrogen peroxide or pumping oxygen into oiled aquifers along with addition of nitrogen- and phosphorous-containing fertilizers. The success of seeding oil spills with microbial preparations is ambiguous. Successful bioremediation of a major marine oil spill has been achieved based upon addition of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers.