Plants Have Future As Environmental Clean-Up Agents

Feyerharm, special projects assistant for Riley County. "I never would have heard of it if it hadn't been for Dr. Erickson and Dr. Davis."

Feyerharm said one of the most attractive aspects of bioremediation to Riley County was the cost. Traditional clean-up methods could have cost an estimated $4 million in the first year, and $8 million over 20 years. The total cost of the bioremediation is expected to be around $15,000.

But the aesthetic qualities of bioremediation were also an attraction. Feyerharm said the planting of the trees will help control erosion problems and attract wildlife, something traditional treatments wouldn't do.

"We think this a no lose opportunity for us," Feyerharm said.

Erickson and Davis, along with other K-State professors, are continuing research into bioremediation, both in areas of genetic research and practical application. The Great Plains/Rocky Mountain Hazardous Substance Research Center, a consortium of 14 universities with headquarters at K-State, funds a number of bioremediation research projects across the country.

Considering there are approximately 300,000 sites across the United States in need of clean-up, many are hoping research will lead to a cleaner environment.

"We're doing some cutting edge work," Erickson, who serves as director of the center, said. "One of our goals is to bring useful technology to the field.


Contact: Cheryl May
Kansas State University

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