Narrator: This is Science Today. Chemists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have proven that removing underground contaminants by heating and steam-cleaning the soil, is more efficient than the conventional pump and treat systems. Chemist Roger Aines and his colleagues had phenomenal results at a Superfund site in California.
Aines: It's an old pole treating yard in which they dipped telephone poles in creosote and the creosote got into the ground water. In twenty years of this pump and treat, they've been averaging about ten pounds of creosote a week removed.
Narrator: The steam method removed six hundred thousand pounds of creosote in less than a year - that's several thousand times more than before.
Aines: They estimated that it was going to take 120 years to clean that site. Now using steam, they estimate they'll be done in less than five years and that includes a lot of just watching it after you're done to make sure that you really did finish.
Narrator: Aines says the steam method is just starting to take hold and already has great public acceptance.
Aines: It just makes sense. People go 'oh yeah, I'd heat it up if I wanted to get it clean faster, too!"
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.