Maritime Science Center Phytoremediation
Size: 22 acres
Status: Completed 2010
Project Awards: PEP Environmental Stewardship Award; Association of Conservation Engineers Carl Anderson Award
In 2009, Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood (GMC) discovered a serious contamination problem during geotechnical surveying of the site selected for construction of the AIDT Maritime Training Center to train workers in the ship building industry. The site was ideally located adjacent to a major ship builder just off Mobile Bay, with prime access of the interstate system and ship building industry. The delay in construction would be detrimental to the project schedule, and significant cost overruns resulting from these environmental issues put development of the project in jeopardy. Rather than lose hope for the project, GMC’s team of environmental specialists developed a break-through remedial plan that not only resolved the environmental issues of the contaminated site, but also restored habitat and kept the project development on track. The Alabama Department of Environmental Management approved GMC’s three-part remediation plan, which entailed: 1) phytoremediation (the utilization of plants to cleanup environmental contaminants) with a Bald Cypress forest and fern plots, the first approach of its kind in the state of Alabama; 2) supplement traditional management of a capped parking lot and building structure; and 3) leaving eight acres of on-site wetland undisturbed. The remedial plan fulfilled the required functions and objectives of the cleanup and eliminated the potential for human exposure to hazardous substances during cleanup, minimizes the potential for negative environmental impacts and reduces costs through its self-sustaining approach. Utilization of the 150+ bald cypress trees not only contributes greatly to the site’s aesthetic appeal, but also minimizes sediment runoff during storm events, reduces heat islands and sequesters carbon which benefits the air quality. In addition, eight of the site’s 22 acres are being preserved as wetland—a net increase of approximately two acres. Three months after planting, 99% of the trees in the second plot were viable. Trees had doubled in height after one year, and three years later had tripled, with 10 times the amount of foliage and woody material in their structures. Several contaminant levels exceeded groundwater target cleanup goals during the initial testing; however, tests performed in September 2013 indicate all wells meeting targeted cleanup levels, proving that groundwater conditions have continued to improve even more as time progresses. Sequestering of materials within the roots and organic material of the site soils, including petroleum which has been metabolized by the trees, has prohibited harmful contaminants from moving toward the adjacent wetlands and sensitive environments. As time goes on, the project will continue to improve the site’s environmental conditions even more.
Scope of Services