A multidisciplinary three-step methodology is being developed to diagnose the extent and type of petroleum pollutants and resulting technological approaches to restore a contaminated site. At first, the site was delimitated and its zones identified by using remote sensors. An area of 307 ha considered of major importance to the national Mexican oil company, Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), was identified. 75% of total analyzed soil samples ranged between 10-50,000 ppm of total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) and 25% between 50,000 and 434,000 ppm. Aliphatic and asphaltene groups were predominant and technological alternatives were proposed. In a second phase the identification of native botanical and microbial capabilities to biodegrade pollutants was achieved. Three native botanical species were selected for greenhouse studies: Cyperus laxus showed low sensitivity to TPH resulting in higher seed germination efficiency and growth rate. Since microbial consortia isolated from C. laxus rhizosphere were able todegrade up to 70% of TPH in 30 days laboratory cultures, a phytoremediation-reforest alternative was finally proposed to PEMEX. In a third step, the construction of a pilot plant in situ is now in course wherein both treatability studies and reforest strategies are being developed.

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