22 April 2016
A facility designed and built by Australian fuel supplier Caltex to treat soil that has been contaminated by crude-oil based products such as petrol and diesel has been recognised with a Gold award for innovation at the Edison Awards in New York.
The Australian first facility, which saves up to 80,000 tonnes of contaminated soil from ending up as landfill each year, was recognised in the Energy & Sustainability - Re-Use & Reclamation category of the global awards program, named after revolutionary inventor Thomas Edison.
Almost 20 countries are represented among the finalists across all categories.
The environmentally-friendly and sustainable technique involves breaking down contaminants by adjusting air flow and adding nutrients to stimulate 'aerobic microbial activity' in the soil.
After a successful two-year pilot, the facility was last month approved to operate permanently and expand its capacity to manage up to 80,000 tonnes of soil each year.
Caltex National Environment Manager Colin Roberts said the facility was both innovative and a win for the environment.
"This facility allows the natural biodegradation process to be accelerated while also reducing the environmental impact," Mr Roberts said.
"In some ways it is a little bit like a compost heap in the sense that, with the right conditions, we can allow the soil to break down naturally and sustainably.
"All emissions generated during the remediation are captured by our filter system to ensure there are no odours while the soil is being treated.
"Once treatment is complete, the soil is tested before being reused in appropriate situations, such as for use as engineering fill - this ensures a second life for the soil."
The availability of the facility also negates the requirement for on-site remediation of hydrocarbon impacted soils across NSW, a process which can create odour and vapour issues for local residents and businesses.
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