Use of Earthworms to Accelerate the Restoration of Oil and Brine Impacted Sites

EPA Grant Number: R830633C009
Subproject: this is subproject number 009 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R830633
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: IPEC University of Tulsa (TU)
Center Director: Sublette, Kerry L.
Title: Use of Earthworms to Accelerate the Restoration of Oil and Brine Impacted Sites
Investigators: Sublette, Kerry L.
Institution: University of Tulsa
EPA Project Officer: Lasat, Mitch
Project Period: May 1, 2003 through April 30, 2004
Project Amount: Refer to main center abstract for funding details.
RFA: Integrated Petroleum Environmental Consortium (IPEC) (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Targeted Research


This project seeks to determine the efficacy of the re-introduction of earthworms to sites which have undergone remediation for crude oil or brine spills in order to accelerate the restoration of these sites in terms of soil quality and plant biomass and species diversity. Specifically we will examine the effects of three treatment variables: earthworms, organic matter, and fertilizer, on the restoration of the two sites referenced above. This will be a two-year project. In the first year measures of soil quality will be the primary indicators of restoration. These measures will include microbial community structure and diversity in terms of phospholipid fatty acid analysis, soil nutrient concentrations, numbers of nitrogen cycling bacteria, nematode numbers and trophic diversity, and earthworm numbers and reproductive status. After earthworms are introduced, no further disturbance of the test plots will be allowed except for sampling. Therefore, some re-vegetation of the plots may occur in the first year. If so, plant biomass and species diversity will be determined at the end of the first growing season. In the second year, plant biomass and species diversity will be added as measures of restoration. All data will be analyzed using analysis of variance (ANOVA). These data are anticipated to lead to a cost-effective protocol for re-introduction and cultivation of earthworms in remediated oil and brine impacted sites and demonstrate the benefits of re-introduction on restoration and re- vegetation of these sites in terms of plant biomass and species diversity. The results of this work can be readily introduced to independent producers, landowners, and the regulatory community in an easily understood manner through IPEC's technology transfer program.

Supplemental Keywords:

RFA, Scientific Discipline, Waste, TREATMENT/CONTROL, Sustainable Industry/Business, Remediation, Sustainable Environment, Treatment Technologies, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Ecology and Ecosystems, Environmental Engineering, contaminated sediments, decontamination, environmental technology, petroleum contaminated soil, petrochemicals, remediation technologies, environmental sustainability, petroleum industry, ecological impacts, environmental education, ecological research

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R830633    IPEC University of Tulsa (TU)

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R830633C001 Development of an Environmentally Friendly and Economical Process for Plugging Abandoned Wells (Phase II)
    R830633C002 A Continuation of Remediation of Brine Spills with Hay
    R830633C003 Effective Stormwater and Sediment Control During Pipeline Construction Using a New Filter Fence Concept
    R830633C004 Evaluation of Sub-micellar Synthetic Surfactants versus Biosurfactants for Enhanced LNAPL Recovery
    R830633C005 Utilization of the Carbon and Hydrogen Isotopic Composition of Individual Compounds in Refined Hydrocarbon Products To Monitor Their Fate in the Environment
    R830633C006 Evaluation of Commercial, Microbial-Based Products to Treat Paraffin Deposition in Tank Bottoms and Oil Production Equipment
    R830633C007 Identifying the Signature of the Natural Attenuation in the Microbial Ecology of Hydrocarbon Contaminated Groundwater Using Molecular Methods and “Bug Traps”
    R830633C008 Using Plants to Remediate Petroleum-Contaminated Soil: Project Continuation
    R830633C009 Use of Earthworms to Accelerate the Restoration of Oil and Brine Impacted Sites