November 16, 2017

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Sandra Dworatzek Presents on Bioremediation Approaches and Tools at International Petroleum Environmental Conference

Sandra Dworatzek (Ontario) delivered a platform presentation entitled "Bioremediation Approaches and Tools for Benzene Remediation under Anaerobic Conditions," at the International Petroleum Environmental Conference (IPEC), held in San Antonio, Texas, October 30 – November 1, 2017.

Sandra is a Senior Manager at SiREM, a division of Geosyntec. Her co-authors were Jennifer Webb and Peter Dollar, SiREM, Guelph, Ontario; Elizabeth Edwards, Nancy Bawa, Shen Guo, and Fei Luo, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario; and Kris Bradshaw, Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL), Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

The 2017 International Petroleum Environmental Conference (IPEC) brought together professionals involved in developing and implementing technology to address and resolve exploration and production (E&P) environmental problems, and to share best practices and information regarding advances in emerging technology.


Benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, xylene (BTEX) and other aromatic hydrocarbons typically degrade faster under aerobic conditions than under anaerobic conditions. When hydrocarbon contaminated aquifers become anaerobic, aerobic bioremediation is not always feasible and anaerobic bioremediation approaches become favorable. To address this need, anaerobic cultures capable of complete degradation of BTX have been developed at the University of Toronto (UofT). The cultures have been characterized and key organisms have been identified.

SiREM, UofT, and FCL are currently engaged in a three-year project to advance anaerobic benzene degradation from the lab to the field, funded in part by Genome Canada and the Province of Ontario. The objectives of the project include scale-up of an anaerobic benzene culture to field volumes, demonstrating its effectiveness for bioaugmentation in treatability studies and in field tests. The culture is currently being assessed using microcosms constructed with materials from hydrocarbon contaminated sites. Information generated will include inoculum density requirements, degradation rates and the range of geochemical conditions required for optimal performance of the culture, and will be used to design field trials. Molecular genetic tools to quantify and track key microbes and functional genes involved in benzene degradation are also being developed. These tools will allow assessment and monitoring of enhanced bioremediation applications.

More Information

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