The Brownfield Phytoremediation (Rehabilitation) Project by MY Brownfield Hero
Engaging and empowering all of the young Malaysian youths to provide eco-friendly biosolution to the affected contaminated land sites.
The project involves both interactive and hands-on environmental learning experiences which aimed to train young Malaysian youths to understand the basic scientific strategy to clean up (rehabilitate) contaminated Brownfield sites with the aid of sophisticated green technology – phytoremediation by planting Vetiver grass. The training involves introductory to the contaminated soil environment and to engage Malaysian youths to apply potential hyperaccumulator plants (Vetiver grass) onto these affected areas where many successful case studies of using this Vetiver system has been achieved in other developed and developing countries across the world.
- To promote the involvement of Malaysian youths in an environmental conservation project of remediation Brownfield (contaminated area) sites in Malaysia;
- To provide real life and hands-on experience to Malaysian youths in dealing to provide biological phytoremediation friendly solutions in the field of contaminated soil area that found available in Malaysia; and
- To offer bio-solution of cleaning up (rehabilitate) the existing contaminated areas in, Malaysia.
Category of action
Youth Leadership on Climate Change
What actions do you propose?
In the present day, there are many pressing global issues, but to me as an environmental research scientist, I would call for the environmental protection to be the most critical issue that needs to be solved at an immediate action. All of us could never run away from the environment, and according to Atty. Antonio Oposa Jr. (2009 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee); the understanding of environment encompasses only three elements, that include the nature of LAW; L-land, A-air and W-water; without each and every one of them, the environment will not work well.
As many may not realize that nearly all of the Brownfield sites are highly contaminated by trace metals derived from past and present day of transport systems, industries and domestic use. Most people assumed that all types of soils are fertile and safe to be used for planting and cultivation, but conversely without realizing the actual fact, some parts of the soil contents may be contaminated with various types of pollutants. Together with a group of energetic and passionate eco-loving youths (age between 16 and 35 in Malaysia) will be working endlessly by planting hyperaccumulator plant (Vetiver grass) which has universally known for and used as a kind of tangible green technology solution of phytoremediation on the selected contaminated land that found located in Malaysia.
The project involves both interactive and hands-on environmental learning experiences which aimed to train youths to understand the basic scientific strategy to clean up (rehabilitate) contaminated sites with the aid of sophisticated green technology – phytoremediation by planting Vetiver grass. The training involves introductory to the contaminated soil environment and to engage youths to apply potential hyperaccumulator plants (Vetiver grass) onto these affected areas in Malaysia. In fact, the exposure and trainings provided will also be a good platform for all of the youths to enhance their scientific practical skills and knowledge transfer in dealing with contaminated areas back in their own backyard.
The green solution of phytoremediation is cost-effective yet it has been globally tested using hyperaccumulator plants (Vetiver grass) to bioremediate different types of contaminated areas and as for this project, the Vetiver grass will be used to remediate Brownfield sites (for example: ex-mining; ex-landfill or ex-dumpsite; ex-industrial and abandoned land) located in Malaysia. A thorough study of highly selected hyper-accumulator tropical plant (Vetiver grass) has been chosen to be grown on actual Brownfield sites (in-situ or better known as field remediation experiment).
What makes the project so much better and interesting; as it involve 100% involvement of Malaysian youths (either with or without fundamental scientific knowledge) in the hands-on activities of growing Vetiver grass to accelerate the phytoremediation process in rehabilitating the affected soil conditions.
Who will take these actions?
This project is open to any Malaysian youth at the age between 16 and 35, living and/or from the rural area (including those unemployed) to work in planting Vetiver grass for phytoremediation project on selected contaminated areas in Malaysia. In fact, the stakeholders of this project also include the owner(s) and/or residents of any contaminated land as well as not limited to any other industrial/premises who are interested in bioremediation of the land property.
Targeted areas: Any contaminated areas or land area (including high level of slope steepness – soil erosion) that require immediate remediation found in Peninsular of Malaysia.
What are other key benefits?
- Land greenifying and restoring with a minimum of two affected contaminated areas within the timeline of this project in Peninsular of Malaysia;
- Targets to empower of at least thirty or more eco-Malaysian youth leaders that will get involved in the effort of environmental restoration project (phytoremediation of contaminated land) in the country;
- Provide a new platform for hands-on environmental learning contents with incorporating non-classroom learning approach to the young Malaysian leaders; and
4. To connect and promote the spread of environmental awareness as well as providing the opportunity for young Malaysian youths in expanding their teaching and learning experience back at their home institutions (TOT - training of trainers)
What are the proposal’s costs?
Transportation and highway tolls (To and fro from Kuala Lumpur to Brownfield sites) USD500
Vetiver seedlings USD2500
Planting equipment (organic fertilizers, watering buckets, water hose, spade, hoe, shove and etc.) USD1000
Clothing material for all volunteers and participants (boots, gloves, cap, etc.) USD500
Rental of tractor and dump truck (services) to ease the land clearing process USD300
Stationery and printing (posters and flyers) USD300
Communication costs (telephones, mailing and etc.) USD100
- Briefing, recruitment and publicity of the project
- Finalize the total confirmation of participants and volunteers
- Approval and confirmation of project sites - Three potential Brownfield sites in Peninsular Malaysia
- Completion in the preparation of local transportation, foods (refreshment), project material, planting equipment and etc.
- Debriefing and meet up with all participants and volunteers prior
- Brownfield phytoremediation project (Vetiver grass planting on site I) – Malaysia
- Brownfield phytoremediation project (Vetiver grass planting on site II) – Malaysia
- Post-project evaluation and constant monitoring of three remediation sites
Potential Remediation Sites Stakeholders:
- Former non-sanitary landfill site (Taman Beringin, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
- Kechara Forest Retreat (soil erosion site) (Bentong, Pahang, Malaysia)
- Ex-mining and abandoned (undeveloped) country site (Bidor city, Perak, Malaysia)
- Ex-mining site of J-Resources Sdn. Bhd. (Penjom Gold Mine – Perak, Malaysia)
Strengths – New and fresh idea of using hyperaccumulator plants (Vetiver grass) to clean up contaminated soil; plant easily available; not expensive and easily manageable by itself; able to train youths to be soil experts in remediating contaminated areas
Weaknesses – It is slightly time consuming in the process of growing and testing the effectiveness (laboratory chemical analysis) plant species on contaminated sites
Opportunities – A new breakthrough in phytoremediation study and produce a list of new hyperaccumulator plant species that able to clean up contaminated soil condition. In fact, the Vetiver grass system has been successful adapted in many developed and developing countries but hardly being used in Malaysia
Threats – Alternative soil remediation technique might overtake the role of phytoremedation in soil clean up
The remarkable domesticated plant – Vetiver grass (Chrysopogon zizanioides), is central to a wide range of applications and has scientifically proven to have many side advantages besides able to remediate contaminated land. The Vetiver grass (seedlings) is easily available in Malaysia through the supplier from Humibox is holistically a beneficial type of plant species which provides significant economic, environmental and social values. Among a few of the advantages of applying Vetiver grass include use of the following:-
- Prevention and treatment of contaminated water and land: Able to tolerate high levels of nitrates, phosphates, heavy metals, agricultural chemicals and other source of contaminants. The Vetiver grass can be used for treating wastewater, rehabilitating mine tailings, stabilizing landfills and general rubbish dumps where it takes up toxic materials.
- Soil erosion control: The narrow hedgerows of Vetiver grass will spread out rainfall runoff across the slope acting as a filter to trap erosion sediment, create natural terraces and reduces the velocity of rainfall runoff.
- Agriculture improvement: Agricultural uses for soil and water conservation, soil moisture improvement, groundwater recharge, recycling soil nutrients, pest control, mulch, forage, clean up of agricultural contaminated waste water and protection of farm infrastructure.
- Community quality of life and poverty reduction: In most developing countries, many of the Vetiver grass can be applied at minimum cost to poor rural communities to enhance quality of life through the protection of water supplies, improving soils and increasing farm benefits, cleaning up waste water and reduction of diseases, protection of rural infrastructure, and providing byproducts for handicrafts.
- Landscaping: Applied for urban landscaping including beautification, slope stabilization, traffic dividers, demarcation of walkways, prevention of urban erosion and etc.
- Handicrafts: Provides a source of excellent material for handicrafts (like shoes, hats, belts and etc.) particularly if the leaves are properly processed first.
All of the Vetiver grass applications impact positively on sustaining the environment and natural resources, as well as improving the human welfare and quality of life. And inevitably, there are many other remediation techniques which can be used to solve contaminated soil condition. Even so, phytoremediation is universally a far much preferable method to be used as it is a sophisticated green cure technology where it is cost-effective, able to remediate the affected site without dramatically disturbing the landscape and most importantly it is economically efficient and locally feasible to be practical in condition. In short, phytoremediation is never too good for soil problems, but it is ideally a reliable and realistic technology that simply helps to ease the soil condition.