Emerald Fulltext Archive Database 1994-2005
Cyanide is extremely toxic to both human and aquatic life and exists as a contaminant in soils and groundwater at decommissioned gasworks sites due to past industrial practices. This included the processing and disposal of gas purification wastes which contained cyanide. The biodegradability of cyanide at gasworks sites in south-eastern Australia is investigated to determine the viability of in situ bioremediation. Two study sites show cyanide concentrations in groundwater of up to 5,300mg/L CN (total) in the vicinty of these sites. Laboratory experiments using column microcosms indicate both aerobic and anaerobic biodegradation of cyanide in water. Rates of degradation are typically first order with degradation microbiologically driven and are not simple oxidation-reduction reactions. The rate of degradation is variable, depending on the existence of microbes, concentration and temperature. Even though both sites have cyanide contamination, only one requires remediation. In situ bioremediation is possible at this site thus providing an acceptable outcome to both site owner and the environment.
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