Jim Wilson / New York Times
The town of Ft. Bragg, CA is considering what to do about an old mill site which is polluted with dioxins.
"Among several toxic hot spots discovered here were five plots of soil with high levels of dioxin that Georgia-Pacific says were ash piles from 2001-2, when the mill burned wood from Bay Area landfills to create power and sell it to Pacific Gas & Electric."
The traditional solutions for this kind of problem include hauling thousands of truckloads of the contanimated soil to a landfill about 200 miles away, or burying the contaminated soil on site in a plastic-lined, 1.3-acre landfill.
"Alarmed by the ultimatum, residents called in Paul E. Stamets, author of “Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World.”
Using the mushroom method [of bioremediation], Mr. Stamets said, [the contaminated soil] is put in plots, strewn with straw and left alone with mushroom spawn. The spawn release a fine, threadlike web called mycelium that secretes enzymes “like little Pac-Mans that break down molecular bonds,” Mr. Stamets said. And presto: toxins fall apart. "
"At the April 14 meeting, Georgia-Pacific promised to finance a pilot project. Roger J. Hilarides, who manages cleanups for the company, offered the city at least one 10-cubic-yard bin of dioxin-laced soil and a 5-year lease on the site’s greenhouse and drying sheds for mushroom testing. And the City Council said it would approve the landfill but only if it came with bioremediation experiments. "