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Austrian companies initiate soil clean ups

13. December 2011

Austria’s innovative companies in the field of environmental technology such as ALTEC Umwelttechnik, PORR Umwelttechnik GmbH, Alpine and Entsorgungslogistik Austria GmbH use methods that come in handy not only during soil clean up but are also useful for wastewater treatment, purification of exhaust gas and recycling. The Austrian Trade Commission digs deeper.  

Austria’s innovative companies in the field of environmental technology also make use of grey biotechnology, which involves industrial processes: such methods come in handy not only during soil clean ups, they are also useful for wastewater treatment, purification of exhaust gas and recycling.
A research project initiated by Vienna’s Ombuds-Office for Environmental Protection is part of the new process for soil cleanups that makes use of plants ( phytoremediation). The team of scientists headed by Prof. Walter Wenzel of the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences’ Institute for Soil Science discovered certain types of willows and poplars growing at sites contaminated with hazardous wastes. These species have developed the ability to draw the poisonous heavy metals cadmium , lead and zinc from the soil and store them in their leaves.
Such efficient consumers of heavy metals , some of which can absorb 700 times as much cadmium as normal plants, have never been observed among any of the world’s trees. This led to the idea of a new process which the city of Vienna has had patented. First, a thin layer of clay is laid on the contaminated site, then cuttings are planted, and the system is left to do its work for the next few years. The leaves shed in autumn rot on the clay layer, and the heavy metals released in the process are bonded by the clay. When this is finished, the layer of leaves and clay is removed. Any remaining leaves can be incinerated, and the metals can be recovered from the clay. The trees can then be cut down , and the wood employed for any number of purposes, as it contains comparatively little heavy metal.
This process, intended or areas with low levels of pollution, such as agriculture, and also as a preventive measure along motorways, is also much less expensive than conventional methods. It is especially suitable for candidates for EU membership without sufficient funds for large-area cleanups.

Austrian Companies

ALTEC Umwelttechnik of Arnoldstein is a specialist for biological cleanups of contaminated soil, treatment of oil sludge, production of fuel and composting of organic wastes. At the Arnoldstein centre for soil cleanups, more than 170,000 metric tons of soil have been decontaminated with the aid of a biological process since the plants first went into service in 1993. In this process, the pollutants are mineralized into water and carbon dioxide. This entails low environmental impact, as the organic materials are eliminated completely without producing any waste products.

Last year, Alpine of Salzburg was awarded two large-scale orders in Romania: construction and cleanup of landfills as part of an EU project worth 22mn euros, and construction of a large hydroelectric plant in a consortium with other companies.
As part of a special partnership, PORR Umwelttechnik GmbH operates a soil washing plant which is equipped to deal with a number of different contaminants. Some other areas in which this company is active include: landfills and sewer rehabilitation.

Entsorgungslogistik Austria GmbH (ELA) provides logistical and other kinds of services relating to recycling and waste disposal, in addition to relevant services and sales. Most importantly, ELA has know-how to offer for comprehensive solutions in the areas of environmental technology and waste management, together with the appropriate utilization and recycling equipment.