Biocell Technology, Ex Situ Bioremediation of Petroleum-Contaminated Soils, Port Hueneme, CA

Site Name:

Naval Construction Battalion Center


Port Hueneme, CA

Period of

October 1996 - January 1997
(105 days of operation)


Field demonstration

Ex Situ Bioremediation - Composting
- Petroleum-contaminated soils were placed in a 10 cubic yard biocell, constructed using a commercial roll-off dumpster; container covered with an impermeable liner to prevent the release of VOCs and soil and to protect the system from precipitation and wind
- Blower used to draw air through perforated pipes installed under the soil
- Leachate collection system used to capture excess moisture
- Off-gas treated using granular activated carbon; blower used to create a slight vacuum in the system to reduce VOC emissions

Cleanup Authority:
Not identified

U.S. Navy
Mr. Dharam Pal
Phone: (805) 982-1671

Mr. Jeff Heath
Phone: (805) 982-1600

Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPH)
- Concentrations up to 736 mg/kg in soil

Waste Source:
Spills and leaks from fuel storage and vehicle maintenance

Type/Quantity of Media Treated:
- 10 cubic yards of soil treated

Purpose/Significance of Application:
Field demonstration of an ex-situ bioremediation technology to treat small quantities of petroleum-contaminated soils

Regulatory Requirements/Cleanup Goals:
- The objectives of the demonstration included evaluating the effectiveness of a biocell for treating petroleum-contaminated soils
- No specific cleanup goals were identified for the demonstration

- After 105 days of biocell operation, TPH concentrations were reduced from 736 mg/kg to 147 mg/kg

Cost Factors:
- Units costs were estimated for operating a 40 cubic yard biocell. The estimated cost per cubic yard of soil treated, amortized over 5 years with three operations per year, were $40.83 for one biocell, $36.75 for two biocells, and $35.56 for 3 biocells

Navy installations generate petroleum-contaminated soils from a variety of operations including fuel storage, vehicle maintenance and repair, and training areas where fuel has been spilled on the ground. For small quantities of petroleum-contaminated soil, off-site disposal can be expensive. The biocell technology, an ex situ bioremediation system, provides a potential alternative to off-site disposal for treating small quantities of soil contaminated with low to intermediate concentrations of petroleum hydrocarbons.

The Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center conducted a demonstration of the biocell technology for petroleum-contaminated soils at the Naval Construction Batallion Center's (NCBC) Hydrocarbon National Test Site in Port Hueneme, California. The system used for the demonstration was a 10 cubic yard biocell built using a commercially available roll-off container. After 105 days of operation, TPH concentrations in the soil were reduced from 736 mg/kg to 147 mg/kg. The estimated unit costs for operating a 40 cubic yard biocell ranged from about $35 to $40 per cubic yard of soil treated, depending on the number of biocells. Several benefits were identified for biocell technology including relatively easy design and construction, potential applicability to a wide range of site conditions, and biocells may be cost-competitive with off-site disposal.