Posted in clean renewable energy, decarbonization, geothermal, no fossil fuels, Refinery Advisory Group

How about a hemp-based regenerative industry?

On August 6th, 2019, I spoke at the 1st public meeting of the Refinery Advisory Group setup by the City of Philadelphia after a fire in June. That testimony has been shared to the refinery@phila.gov address, and can be found here… About that refinery that just closed

Since then, I realized that the myco-remediation, district geothermal and a solar farm would provide one-time jobs; first for remediation then for the two types of clean energy projects.

Some people in the community suggested we come up with a forestry-based regenerative industry. Later, someone else suggested using hemp for soil remediation. Some quick research helped me connect the two suggestions. 

Hemp is an annual crop, requiring planting, care and harvest each year. 

A fast growing plant, reaching 10-12 feet within one season, the planting would provide 2 services: absorb carbon from the atmosphere, and lift up heavy metals from the soil. 

Once harvested, the woody stalks could be the basis for local production of building materials like insulation and hemp-crete, a concrete substitute. Both needed in our urban region, and likely to foster local manufacturing. 

Over time, as the soil gets cleaner, and we increase the acreage planted, the same woody stalks could be the basis for local textile production — for rope, canvas, even clothing. 

When the soil is clean enough, safe enough, we could consider planting for food & body care products — hemp seed, hemp oil, CBD-products. 

Of course, we should still plan for some geothermal and solar farms, allow for some marshland and wildlife preserve, and certainly, public access to the riverfront.

We have found this article about a town in Italy using hemp to decontaminate their land.

My understanding is that the Rodale Institute has a team researching hemp for industrial applications. How can we develop this idea together? I’m certain we can get public buy-in. 


Advertisements
Posted in clean renewable energy, geothermal, Refinery Advisory Group, remediation, solar

About that refinery that just closed…

On June 21, 2019 the PES refinery in South Philly had an explosion and fire. This incident has received much media coverage. We covered it on a radio episode of Philly Talks Climate on June 28, 2019, see Pay up, PES! …and please clean up on your way out.

On August 6, 2019, at the first public meeting of our City’s Refinery Advisory Group, this is the picture I painted…


Hello, my name is Meenal Raval. I live in Mt Airy, about 10 miles north of here. 

We’re thankful there were no casualties from the 6/21 incident at the refinery. We’re also thankful this refinery has closed. We need to ensure that it remains closed. And focus on the task at hand — to reclaim the land for other applications, ones that don’t involve fossil fuels, in line with our City’s climate action goals. Because we all have a Right to Breathe!

Remembering our City’s Zero Waste by 2035 goal, and knowing there’s no “away” to take the contaminated soil to, we need to clean the soil in place. 

When we look at flood maps, for instance choices.climatecentral.com, most of the refinery land could be submerged given the rate and direction we’re headed with the climate crisis. We recommend cleaning it up as best as we can before this happens, to recreate the marshland and green space we’ve lost where the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers meet. Most people would not hesitate to support a complete Schuylkill River Trail.

How? In one word — myco-remediation, or remediating using the mycelium network of mushrooms. Myco-remediation works in two ways — pulling up elementals and breaking down compounds.

Elementals like lead are pulled up and into the mushroom fruit, which can be harvested, dehydrated and incinerated, with the resultant ash treated as hazardous waste.

Compounds (like petro-chemicals formed from hydro-carbons) actually feed the mycelium, which break the hydro-carbons down into innocuous elements like hydrogen, carbon and oxygen and help the mushroom fruit thrive! If no heavy metals are found in the soil, the mushrooms from a petro-chemical site can be harvested and added to the compost pile, for future soil enhancement.

Our understanding is that multiple crops and harvests can pull up the heavy metals, break down the hydro-carbons, and leave us with living, fertile soil. I was told that about 3 growing cycles, all of which could take place in just one year, would be enough to remediate the soil. I’ve also learned that myco-remediation is best done with mycelium from spent substrate from a mushroom farm! And.. that myco-remediation is cheaper than any other form of remediation. 

Most people I’ve spoken with suggest some form of renewable energy at this site, such as geothermal fields and solar farms. After soil reclamation, I sense that a pollinator friendly solar farm would be very popular, allowing for local food production in this area also. 

With our region being the mushroom capital of the US, this could be a great Philadelphia story — land reclamation, green space, clean energy and local food. These are the type of jobs people would clamor over. 

Thank you!! 


Some easy reading references on myco-remediation