Decontamination and functional reclamation of dredged brackish sediments.


PubMedID: 23183938

Doni S, Macci C, Peruzzi E, Iannelli R, Ceccanti B, Masciandaro G. Decontamination and functional reclamation of dredged brackish sediments. Biodegradation. 2013;24(4):499-512.
The continuous stream of sediments, dredged from harbors and waterways for keeping shipping traffic efficiency, is a considerable ongoing problem recognized worldwide. This problem gets worse as most of the sediments dredged from commercial ports and waterways turn out to be polluted by a wide range of organic and inorganic contaminants. In this study, phytoremediation was explored as a sustainable reclamation technology for turning slightly-polluted brackish dredged sediments into a matrix feasible for productive use. To test this possibility, a phytoremediation experimentation was carried out in containers of about 0.7 m(3) each, filled with brackish dredged sediments contaminated by heavy metals and hydrocarbons. The sediments were pre-conditioned by adding an agronomic soil (30 % v/v) to improve their clayey granulometric composition, and by topping the mixture with high quality compost (4 kg m(-2)) to favour the initial adaptation of the selected vegetal species. The following plant treatments were tested: (1) Paspalum vaginatum, (2) Phragmites australis, (3) Spartium junceum + P. vaginatum, (4) Nerium oleander + P. vaginatum, (5) Tamarix gallica + P. vaginatum, and (6) unplanted control. Eighteen months after the beginning of the experimentation, all the plant species were found in healthy condition and well developed. Throughout the whole experiment, the monitored biological parameters (total microbial population and dehydrogenase activity) were generally observed as constantly increasing in all the planted sediments more than in the control, pointing out an improvement of the chemico-physical conditions of both microorganisms and plants. The concentration decrease of organic and inorganic contaminants (>35 and 20 %, respectively) in the treatments with plants, particularly in the T. gallica + P. vaginatum, confirmed the importance of the root-microorganism interaction in activating the decontamination processes. Finally, the healthy state of the plants and the sediment characteristics, approaching those of an uncontaminated natural soil (technosoil), indicated the efficiency and success of this technology for brackish sediments reclamation.