Identification of Ponding Basin Oil Contaminants and Determination of Optional Nutrient Enrichment Levels In Microbial Oil Biodegradation Using Gas Chromatography: A Fifth Year Study

Laila H. Abdelal
Clovis High School
Grade 12
Fresno County
Conrad Bitters

Summary Statement
This project deals with the enhancement of the natural clean-up process (biodegration) of oil contaminants in my local environment.
The purposes of my experiments were to identify sources of oil contamination and to determine to what degree the addition of needed nutrients can enhance natural microbial oil bioremediation in a ponding basin environment. Ponding basins collect rainwater runoff from roads and serve as percolation ponds to replenish ground water. Evidence of oil contamination in ponding basins and in the local ground water have been found.

First, gas chromatography was used to compare motor oil samples with oil isolated from the ponding basin to look for similarities of oil type. The results suggest that motor oil is a probable source od ponding basin contamination.

Second, predetermined concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorous were added to laboratory microcosms of ponding basin soil and water. Gas chromatography was used to demonstrate the enhancement of oil biodegradation for the enriched as compared to a control microcosm. Dissolved oxygen measured in each microcosm also indicated that more aerobic microbial activity occurred in the nutrient-enriched microcosm.

The results may be useful in developing a plan to prevent further ground water contamination through enhancement of oil biodegradation by naturally occurring microorganisms.

Help Received
Lab equipment (gas chromatograph) was used in one of the Chemistry Department labs at California State University, Fresno.

CSSF / Projects / CalifSF@usc.edu