Bioremediation appears to be a feasible approach for cleaning soils contaminated with 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT) and related explosives. Development of an effective, inexpensive biological remediation method for cleaning these soils would result in major economic savings to owners of munitions-contaminated sites. Here we report on the development of an anaerobic microbial bioremediation process. Munitions-contaminated soil was obtained from a munitions depot site near Umatilla, Oregon. A method was developed in which the contaminated soil was mixed with phosphate buffer in the presence of a starch-rich carbon source. A strictly anaerobic bacterial consortium became established and degraded the munitions compounds. Temperature and pH strongly affect the rate of solubilization of TNT from the contaminated soil, as well as the biological activity within the soil slurries.
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