The American Society of Landscape Architects has created a great step-by-step video demonstrating how to return a contaminated brownfield site into a real community asset. The video, appropriately titled From Industrial Wasteland to Community Park, traces an abandoned refinery on its way from bio-hazard to bio-helpful.
The cleanup technique shown is called bioremediation, or reclamation through plants. Here’s a little about the process from the ASLA:
Bioremediation involves using plants, fungi, or soil microbes to clean up toxic brownfields. Some types of deep-rooted plants can even be used to remove toxic metals from the soil. One example is Thlaspi Caerulescens, commonly known as Alpine Pennycress. According to Cornell University researchers, a normal plant can only store about 100 parts per million (ppm) zinc and 1 ppm cadmium. Thlaspi can store up to 30,000 ppm zinc and 1,500 ppm cadmium in its shoots without being negatively affected. In fact, these types of plants thrive while restoring the brownfield to its natural state.
[ Via The Dirt. ]