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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 33 No. 4, p. 1210-1216
    Received: Oct 30, 2003

    * Corresponding author(s): chejpo@nus.edu.sg
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Application of a Slow-Release Fertilizer for Oil Bioremediation in Beach Sediment

  1. R. Xua,
  2. N. L. A. Laub,
  3. K. L. Ngb and
  4. J. P. Obbard *a
  1. a Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, 4 Engineering Drive 4, National University of Singapore, Singapore 117576
    b Tropical Marine Science Institute, 14 Kent Ridge Road, Singapore 119223


A 105-d field experiment was conducted to determine the potential of the slow-release fertilizer, Osmocote (Scotts, Marysville, OH), to stimulate the indigenous microbial biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons in an oil-spiked beach sediment on an intertidal foreshore in Singapore. Triplicate microcosms containing 80 kg of weathered sediment, spiked with 5% (w/w) Arabian light crude oil and 1.2% (w/w) Osmocote pellets, were established, together with control microcosms minus Osmocote. Relative to the control, the presence of the Osmocote sustained a significantly higher level of nutrients (NH4 +–N, NO3 –N, and PO4 3−–P) in the sediment pore water over the duration of the experiment. The metabolic activity of the indigenous microbial biomass, as measured using an intracellular dehydrogenase enzyme assay, was also significantly enhanced over the duration of the experiment in amended sediments. The loss of total recoverable petroleum hydrocarbons (TRPH) and biodegradation of total n-alkanes (C10–C33), branched alkanes (pristane and phytane), as well as total target polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) (two- to six-ring), in both the control and Osmocote-amended sediments, followed a first-order biodegradation model. The first-order loss rate of total recoverable petroleum hydrocarbons was 2.57 times greater than that of the control. The hopane-normalized rate constants for total n-alkane, branched alkane, and total target PAH biodegradation in the Osmocote-treated sediments were 3.95-, 5.50-, and 2.45-fold higher than the control, respectively. Overall, the presence of Osmocote was able to significantly enhance and accelerate the biodegradation of aliphatics and PAHs in oil-contaminated sediments under natural field conditions in an intertidal foreshore environment.

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