Sustainably Remediating UCB Soils

Project Leads: Sarick Matzen & Celine Pallud

Sponsor: Celine Pallud

TGIF Grant: $2,000.00

Project Theme: Habitat Restoration & Native Landscaping

Project Location

2017 Application Submission

Status: In Progress

Project Description: Decades of industrial activity have left a legacy of soil pollution in urban areas, including at UC Berkeley. A prime example of polluted, yet environmentally sensitive, land is UC Berkeley’s Richmond Field Station (RFS). The soil at RFS is contaminated with high concentrations of arsenic from chemical processing waste. Traditional soil remediation methods to clean up contamination depend on disruptive excavation, where soil is removed, transported off-site, and landfilled. We use plant-based remediation, a sustainable alternative to soil excavation, to remediate RFS soils. Specifically, we use a fern, Pteris vittata, to remove arsenic from soil, a method known as phytoextraction. Our project will sustainably restore the native ecosystem, reduce waste and air pollution associated with traditional soil remediation practices, and sequester carbon.

Grow and harvest P. vittata ferns to remove arsenic from RFS soil.
- Track arsenic uptake in ferns to quantify remediation rate.
- Reduce waste associated with soil remediation using conventional methods.
- Rehabilitate soil so it can support a healthy coastal prairie ecosystem.

Mission Statement

The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) provides funding for projects that reduce UC Berkeley's negative impact on the environment and make UC Berkeley more sustainable. TGIF will allocate funds to projects that promote sustainable modes of transportation, increase energy and water efficiency, restore habitat, promote environmental and food justice, and reduce the amount of waste created by UC Berkeley. Portions of the fund also support education and behavior change initiatives, student aid (via return to aid), and internships. TGIF is supported by student fees and administered through a student-majority committee and a program coordinator.