Sustainably Remediating UCB Soils

Sustainably Remediating UCB Soils

Project Leads: Sarick Matzen & Celine Pallud

Project Sponsor: Celine Pallud

TGIF Grant: $2,000

Project Theme: Habitat Restoration & Native Landscaping

Application Submission

Project Description: Decades of industrial activity have left a legacy of soil pollution in urban areas, including at UC Berkeley. A prime example of polluted, yet environmentally sensitive, land is UC Berkeley’s Richmond Field Station (RFS). The soil at RFS is contaminated with high concentrations of arsenic from chemical processing waste. Traditional soil remediation methods to clean up contamination depend on disruptive excavation, where soil is removed, transported off-site, and landfilled. We use plant-based remediation, a sustainable alternative to soil excavation, to remediate RFS soils. Specifically, we use a fern, Pteris vittata, to remove arsenic from soil, a method known as phytoextraction. Our project will sustainably restore the native ecosystem, reduce waste and air pollution associated with traditional soil remediation practices, and sequester carbon.

Project Goals: 

  1. Grow and harvest P. vittata ferns to remove arsenic from RFS soil.
  2. Track arsenic uptake in ferns to quantify remediation rate.
  3. Reduce waste associated with soil remediation using conventional methods.
  4. Rehabilitate soil so it can support a healthy coastal prairie ecosystem.