For at least three decades, plants and their associated microbes have been experimentally shown to extract, degrade and volatilize some contaminants of concern (CoC). But the greater promise of phytoremediation to be used widely and effectively has yet to be realized. One of the principal reasons is the gap between experimental and operational applications. Without effective operationalization, many projects fail and confidence is lost in the efficacy of the technology.
Several obstacles have materialized in the process of commercializing phytoremediation that have prevented this technology from being widely adopted: lack of field-based research on techniques; lack of qualified persons for design, installation and management; and few incentives to share BMPs among commercial providers. Each will be discussed below.
Operational guidelines and best management practices (BMPs) are presented based on 18 years of experience on 20 different phytoremediation projects in Canada and Northeast US, on projects ranging from square meters to tens of hectares. BMPs for the commercialization of phytoremediation are synthesized from other industries and adapted to overcome the challenges unique to “remeculture”—the practice of applied phytoremediation. Guidance for both client and consultant for selecting sites where phytoremediation will be successful are offered, and sequential steps outlined up to operationalizing and beyond, including suggestions for assessing progress on an ongoing basis.
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