Pouring oil on troubled soil

The waste products of the petroleum industry are among the most environmentally noxious materials to manage and are very difficult to treat. Now, Russian scientists at the Kazan State University and the Open Joint-Stock Company Nizhnekamskneft have suggested that simple composting could be the answer. They have demonstrated how toxic oil-slimes can be made readily biodegradable and so self-composting. Oil-slimes consist of oil carbohydrates and the by-products of processing, including asphaltic-resinous substances, phenols, xylols, styrenes and numerous other toxic and carcinogenic substances. The scientists have carried out field trials on oil-slimes from Nizhnekamskneft's slime accumulators and found that compost beds containing the upper, dried fraction from the accumulators could be reduced by 85% oil content within 18 months. The compost is benign enough to promote the growth of radishes.