Context: A team of The Energy and Research Institute (TERI) has begun assessing the impact on the environment after the blowout around the Baghjan natural gas well.

More on the news: 

  • The well in eastern Assam’s Tinsukia district adjoins the sensitive Maguri-Motapung wetland and is close to the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park that houses some wild horses. 
  • It underwent a blowout - uncontrolled escape of gas at tremendous velocity and has been burning since bursting into flames.
  • Certain steps such as the erection of heat shields have been completed and fire-fighting equipment from Rajahmundry operations of ONGC has been used.

Assessment by TERI:

  • A preliminary assessment by the TERI team is in progress at the site for studying air quality and noise level. 
  • Bioremediation of sludge is being done using a technology developed in-house by the research and development wing of Oil India Limited(OIL), to which the well belongs.
  • OIL also updated the efforts to kill the well fire before capping the blowout. 

What is Bioremediation?

  • It is the methodology by which waste toxic substances in the environment can be removed or neutralized with the help of microorganisms, plants, or microbial or plant enzymes.
  • Hence, we can say that Bioremediation is the method of reducing or destroying the concentration of pollutants in the environment through the biological systems. 

Types of bioremediation:

In-situ Bioremediation

Ex-situ Bioremediation

  • When the detoxification of waste is done at the original site of the contamination is called in situ Bioremediation. 
  • It is mainly used to treat contaminants in soil and groundwater. 
  • The process of in situ bioremediation depends on the various factors which are given below: 
    • Typology of contamination,
    • Characteristics of site, 
    • Distribution and concentration of contaminants etc.
  • As all the above factors are not practical to achieve, in situ bioremediation uses methods like aeration, nutrient addition, controlling moisture content to increase the rate of degradation. 
  • For example: bioventing, enhanced biodegradation,biosparging,bio-augmentation etc.
  • When the detoxification of waste is done away from the original site of the contamination is called ex situ Bioremediation. 
  • In this process, the contaminants are unearthed from the original site and then treated in the controlled environment. 
  • For Example: composting, soil bio-piles, Land farming etc.

Pros of Bioremediation:

  • It is a natural environment friendly waste treatment process for contaminated substances such as soil.
  • Useful for the complete removal of contaminants.
  • Less expensive than the other mechanism or technologies that are used for the removal of hazardous waste.

Cons of Bioremediation:

  • Limited to only biodegradable compounds.
  • Difficult to generalise from laboratory studies to full-scale field operations.
  • Takes longer than other treatment options, such as excavation and removal of soil or incineration.

The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) 

  • It is a not-for-profit policy research institute in New Delhi that specializes in the fields of energy, environment and sustainable development. 
  • Established in 1974, it was formerly known as the Tata Energy Research Institute. 
  • As the scope of its activities widened, it was renamed The Energy and Resources Institute in 2003.

Source: team of The Energy,OIL) officials said on Wednesday.