Yes particularly with oil spillage disasters.

AS A VETERAN member of the U.S. EPA’s Environmental Response Team, Harry L. Allen III, PhD, has helped manage the Exxon Valdez oil spill, cyanide spills in Latvia and Guyana, toxic waste dumps in Haiti and the continuing toxic legacy of Agent Orange in Vietnam.


Allen specializes in the cleanup of oil spills, hazardous waste and contaminated soils through bioremediation – the use of microscopic organisms to break down toxic chemicals. He suggests that compost could play a pivotal role in mitigating the Deepwater Horizon spill both on shore and in shallow waters. The only limitation would be that the mixture should not sink.

Compost is a rich source of bacteria and actinomyces, microscopic organisms that fall somewhere between bacteria and plants. These are equipped with complex metabolic systems that breakdown complex hydrocarbons like those found in oil, pesticides and other common petroleum-based pollutants.

“Microorganisms need some kind of growth medium,” Allen says. “The key is that you have to have suitable environmental conditions for bacterial growth and the organic matrix. Compost is the secret ingredient that allows the bacteria to work.”

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