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Issues related to the RCRA process
A study to determine how well certain plants can take up arsenic from soil is being conducted in Middleport. This study may show the feasibility of using phytoremediation in Middleport to clean up arsenic contaminated soils in yards where the owner desires to save parts or all of their current landscape. Factors such as which plants perform best, how deep can the plants reduce contamination and their efficiency will be determined.

Click on the Read Full Article link below to read the article.
There are currently three study plots, one in an open agricultural field and two in residential properties under trees. Several species of plants are used: fern, rapeseed (canola), sunflower, turnip, sudangrass and artichoke. These are not your everyday fern, turnip, sunflower, etc., but specific varieties which have been shown to uptake contaminates from soil. The planting started in June. The study areas are surrounded by fencing to keep the plants and their parts inside and people out. The plants theoretically can clean up soil as deep as there roots go. Once the growing season is over the plants will be harvested and destroyed in approved facilities. The area they grew in will then be assessed for any change in arsenic levels. It may be necessary to continue the study next year to get a better understanding of the process.

It should be noted that typically plants do not take up arsenic from soil. That is why the certain varieties of plant species mentioned above have been chosen for the study. Arsenic is soluble in water and will combine with clay particles and oxides of aluminum and iron to form arsenates. Once it becomes this form in soils, arsenic becomes relatively immobile and remains there. These arsenates are what the certain plants in this study can uptake into their roots, stems and leaves.

Paul Deutsch from Geomatrix, along with Glenn Combs, are overseeing each study plot. Mr. Deutsch has been involved with bioremediation in other parts of the US including petroleum remediation using plants. Dr. Gary Harman of Cornell University's College of  Agriculture and Life Sciences at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station is also involved. Dr. Harman has received soil from the agricultural field for laboratory studies. The Middleport pilot study is being monitored by the DEC, DOH and EPA and the agencies have approved the study plan.
Note: The Phytoremediation Pilot Study Work Plan is available on this web site by clicking

For EPA Citizen's Guide on Phytoremediation click here and for an EPA
Citizen's Guide to Bioremediation click here.

For information on Dr. Harmon click here.
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