The potential use of iron(III) oxide to stimulate in-situ hydrocarbon degradation in anaerobic petroleum-contaminated harbor sediments was investigated. Previous studies have indicated that Fe(III)-reducing bacteria (FeRB) can oxidize some electron donors more effectively than sulfate- reducing bacteria (SRB). In contrast to previous results in freshwater sediments, the addition of Fe(III) to marine sediments from San Diego Bay, CA did not switch the terminal electron-accepting process (TEAP) from sulfate reduction to Fe-(III) reduction. Addition of Fe(III) also did not stimulate anaerobic hydrocarbon oxidation. Exposure of the sediment to air [to reoxidize Fe(II) to Fe(III)] followed by anaerobic incubation of the sediments, resulted in Fe-(III) reduction as the TEAP, but contaminant degradation was not stimulated and in some instances was inhibited. The difference in the ability of FeRB to compete with the SRB in the different sediment treatments was related to relative population sizes. Although the addition of Fe(III) did not stimulate hydrocarbon degradation, the results presented here as well as other recent studies demonstrate that there may be significant anaerobic hydrocarbon degradation under sulfate-reducing conditions in harbor sediments.
Additional publication details
Anaerobic hydrocarbon degradation in petroleum-contaminated harbor sediments under sulfate-reducing and artificially imposed iron-reducing conditions