The Summer Course held on 9 and 10 October in the House of the Dehesa in Olarizu under the title “New Trends in Restoration of Degraded Soils III: Metals, Organic Compounds and Artificial Wetlands” exceeded the limit of registrations provided with 52 enrolled.

The course, organized by the Green Lab of the Center for Environmental Studies of Vitoria-Gasteiz (CEA) in collaboration with the University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU), intended, together with the PhytoSUDOE Final Conference of October 11 at the Europa Palace, to close the Project PhytoSUDOE of European funding for the promotion of phytoremediation that culminates after three years of research.

The attendance was massive and with great international influence, reciving attendees from France, Belgium, the Czech Republic or the United States. The speakers also came from the international arena, with talks that showed examples from the USA, Canada, France, Portugal or Belgium.

On the 9th and after the institutional opening, Carlos Pachón (EPA, Environmental Protection Agency) inaugurated the morning dedicated to organic pollutants with practical examples carried out in the US, showing interesting concepts such as “Technological Innovation” for the restoration of Ecosystem Services – which include reducing the environmental impact during the execution of the decontaminations – or the benefits to the Community by integrating their opinions in the process. He was followed by José Julio Ortega Calvo (CSIC) speaking about advances in research on the bioavailability of organic pollutants and their bioremediation, emphasizing the need to define these concepts very well in order to generate knowledge and create legislation regarding contaminated / poluted soils. After him Jesús Fernández Cascán and Eduardo Calleja (Representatives of the Lindane Unit of the Government of Aragón) made us aware of the delicate situation they have with this pollutant in Huesca and the tasks for its management, monitoring and control. After a brief break for coffee, Paula Garrido (AFESA Medio Ambiente SA) and José Luis Vilas Vilela (UPV-EHU) closed the morning talking about the soil decontamination methodology in the Basque Country (legislation, most abundant contaminants, analysis and risk assessment) and nanotechnology as a method of decontamination (through a highly reducing element such as iron) respectively.

During the afternoon of the first day there was a field trip where the techniques of environmental and landscape restoration that are being carried out west of the Municipality of Vitoria-Gasteiz could be seen in situ. Juan Vilela (CEA) together with the help of Unai Artetxe (UPV-EHU) and Iñigo Zuazagoitia (CEA Green Lab) guided the tour showing the actions carried out in the area and explaining the future management of this green corridor that will extend the Green Belt (energy crops and plantations, phytoremediation, decontamination plots, hugelkultur …) in the vicinity of the polygon of Júndiz (Mendebaldea project).

On the second day, October 10, the session began with the focus on constructed wetlands, that is, water decontamination methods using lamination ponds. The opening was made by Michel Labrecque (University of Montreal) explaining the different options that exist for the treatment of wastewater with willow plantations with a short rotation shift and its subsequent use as biomass to generate energy. He was followed by Víctor Matamoros (CSIC) talking about emerging pollutants (those that are not yet contemplated in any regulation related to water toxicity) and wetland systems as a real option for decontamination, since conventional WWTPs are not capable to eliminate them. After them, Ane Zabaleta (UPV-EHU) provided a more complete view of what are the soils and the water they contain to take it into account when legislating on it (Proposal for a Directive on Soil Protection that finally did not come out forward) as when monitoring pollution flows as is currently being done in Las Graveras de Lasarte.

To conclude the second day, the topic of trace contaminants (metals) was addressed, as well as the management of organic waste, the application of organic amendments and the associated bacteria in decontamination. In this way, Bertrand Pourrut (Catholic University of Lille) told us about the great problem in the area of ​​Metaleurop Nord associated with these pollutants and their incorporation into the food chain, as well as the potential of the Miscanthus giganteus plant for its remediation . Paula Alvarenga (University of Lisbon) showed us the capacity of remediation that organic amendments have on contaminated soils through practical examples in Portugal and reminded us of the variety and quantity of organic waste that could be used for this purpose and that are currently being taken to landfill. Carlos Rad (University of Burgos), after defining what is a “heavy metal” and a “trace element”, showed us the potential danger of applying sewage sludge or animal droppings without proper prior treatment and explained a sophisticated IT tool for Prediction and decision making regarding the accumulation of heavy metals in the amended soils. Finally, Jaco Vangronsveld (University of Hasselt) emphasized the bacteria associated with plants and their roots, explaining the existing synergies between them and highlighting their importance in the decontamination and ignorance that still exists around them today.

The PDFs of the presentations of the course are attached below:

1_EPA´s Green Remediation. Principles and Field Cases

9oct_1_Pachon_Green remediation

2_Bioremediation and bioavailability of organic chemicals


3_ The lindane case in Aragón. Lindane and water

9oct_3_Fernández Cascán_Lindano y agua

4_Soil organic pollutants in the Basque Country Experiences and challenges


5_Nanotechnology for decontamination: lindane and other organic pollutants


6_Willows for small community wastewater treatment: constructed wetlands or short-rotation plantations

10oct_1_Labrecque_willows for wastewater

7_ Attenuation of emerging pollutants by wetland systems. Cases from Catalonia and Denmark

10oct_2_Matamoros_emerging contaminants

8_Soil: a view from the water

10oct_3_Zabaleta_ el suelo desde el agua

9_Toward a sustainable phytomanagement of the metal contaminated megasite of Metaleurop Nord (France)

10oct_4_Pourrut_Metaleurop Nord

10_Organic amendments for metal chemical/phyto stabilization in soils. Cases from Portugal

10oct_5_Alvarenga_Chemical phytostabilization

11_ Management strategies of organic wastes for environmental protection against trace metal contamination

10oct_6_Rad_organic wastes management

12_Plants and their associated bacteria: partners in remediation of contaminated soils and groundwater. Field examples

10oct_7_Vangrosnsveld_plants and bacteria for remediation