Laboratory and field scale bioremediation of hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) contaminated soils by means of bioaugmentation and biostimulation
Hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) contaminated soils were treated for a period of up to 64 days in situ (HCH dumpsite, Lucknow) and ex situ (University of Dehli) in line with three bioremediation approaches. The first approach, biostimulation, involved addition of ammonium phosphate and molasses, while the second approach, bioaugmentation, involved addition of a microbial consortium consisting of a group of HCH-degrading sphingomonads that were isolated from HCH contaminated sites. The third approach involved a combination of biostimulation and bioaugmentation. The efficiency of the consortium was investigated in laboratory scale experiments, in a pot scale study, and in a full-scale field trial. It turned out that the approach of combining biostimulation and bioaugmentation was most effective in achieving reduction in the levels of alpha- and beta-HCH and that the application of a bacterial consortium as compared to the action of a single HCH-degrading bacterial strain was more successful. Although further degradation of beta and delta-tetrachlorocyclohexane-1,4-diol, the terminal metabolites of beta- and delta-HCH, respectively, did not occur by the strains comprising the consortium, these metabolites turned out to be less toxic than the parental HCH isomers.