As a result of crude oil extraction, transportation and refining processes, there are thousands of sites in Canada contaminated with benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes (collectively known as BTEX). This negatively impacts soil and groundwater resources. In Canada and around the world, remediation of contaminated sites is difficult and costly. When possible, affected soil can be dug up and treated or disposed of offsite.
A collaborative project between SiREM, a Guelph-based national leader in environmental remediation, Imperial Oil and the University of Toronto aims to use genomically characterized strains of bacteria that break down BTEX compounds underground without the need to dig up contaminated soil. If successful, solutions developed through this project will significantly accelerate the rate of biodegradation and lead to more efficient and widespread cleanup of contaminated sites at a lower cost.