The nature of the Ars Botanica aspect of the Hun Ol Project is extremely versatile, yet still having the capability to render detailed information for a specific project. The most obvious use of the software development is in the area of botanical propagation and tracking. Those at the level of lay gardeners, all the way up to universities and government departments, can take advantage of this integrative and innovative tracking and inventory method. Where this product can really shine, however, and the greatest opportunity for its overall breakthrough into a developing genre, is in the development of progressive remediation techniques as well as tracking in biological and chemical waste management.
Recently, the federal government has had to set aside millions (actually 1.373 billion is the estimated price tag over the next 30 years) for remediation of government facilities that are contaminated with hazardous chemical and/or biological waste. These sites need to be cleaned up or, under certain circumstances, because remediation would be so invasive, simply monitored under a long term stewardship project. To the general public, and to some government officials, this is simply not acceptable, nor is it safe - for eventually these contaminants may pose such a great health risk to nearby wildlife and residential areas that drastic measures will have to be implemented... usually by then, too late for some. This has been the unfortunate reality when dealing with the muck-it-up, pick-it-up, truck-it-up mentality that has been employed by most government remediation teams and engineering firms - but it doesn't have to be that way. There are less expensive, more effective, less risky ways to remediate most of these high level sites, and do so at a significant savings. The Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Defense (DOD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA; usually in our discussion, will mean from Superfund project monies), and the USDA must implement remediation or long term stewardship plans in the next five years...the first stage of implementation began Oct 26, 2001, just over a month ago.
With this in mind, we have been invited to participate on several occasions with discussions on solution centered ideas to begin to address this massive problem. We in the Hun Ol Project have come up with solutions that have been deemed not only possible and viable, but will save a tremendous amount of money over currently utilized techniques, and help to actually restore some of these restricted areas in the US to safe, and in some instances fully usable sites. A large example of an area under consideration for our work is the Hanford Site in Washington State. Here we have a combination of government departments who have over the years, contributed to polluting the Columbia River, and are now in the midst of trying to figure out how to best remediate them. When specifically asked to present ideas to this end, we submitted a plan that was extremely well received, to utilize ancient but extremely effective methods of phytoremediation at the river site, both in the water and on land to rapidly and effective metabolize many of the problem pollutants and restore the are to public usage. This is a very high priority project, because Vice President Al Gore declared the area a National Park site prior to his leaving office, and that put it on the fast track for clean up so that the public may use the many waterways, forests, campgrounds, and bog areas safely, without fear of contamination.
We can further assist in three ways. Beyond the abstract, we can, through the acquisition of seed money, establish a test program at Hanford (and other high priority sites) to use the Ars Botanica software as a tracking device for the pollutants, as well as the phytoremediative plants that would be placed on site. For example using macrophytes with certain hyperaccumulative properties could assist the Columbia River in cleaning itself in a little as two to three seasons, but as to which macrophytes will work best there is still a question. There are issues of zone, pH, plant efficiency (without becoming an invasive parasite to the region), and survival of species - all of which are critical to track. Right now, some rather primitive approaches to this have been done in a rather haphazard way, with everyone from government agencies to Indian tribes all employing different methods of tracking, and interpreting data; the situation is ineffective and time consuming. Using Ars Botanica, these groups would be capable of sharing information easily, more effectively tracking target plants - quickly maximizing their potential, and at a significant savings in time, risk, and cost. Indeed this is just one area that our services and technology could assist in large scale projects; there are many more.
With the ability to increase yields (using indigenous technologies conceived thousands of years ago) using the latest technologies and tracking mechanisms, we have the opportunity to take a leading role developing and ever expanding field of phytoremediation. Once limited to Native tribal practices and university studies, there are now private phytoremediation firms in the US who are using plants to cleanse sites of a wide range of contaminants. The types of contaminants that can be tracked and remediated are all of those causing the most concern: toluene, CCL4, mercury, POPs (persistent organic pollutants), fertilizer run-off, herbicide and insecticide contamination, and even heavy metals. Phytoremediation can be utilized extremely effectively with respect to these contaminants, whether they be in air, soil, water, or (utilizing certain epidemiological techniques) even in people when contamination occurs. Utilizing certain plants medicinally can even help chelate contamination of heavy metals from those individuals with exposure and therefore directly save lives; but the work in these areas is just beginning . NIH has just begun to appropriate millions of dollars into research studies to view the effectiveness of these techniques. We personally spoke with the head epidemiologist at a government funded conference recently, who agreed with us enthusiastically that more monies and research are needed to be brought in to the private sector immediately, particularly where women's and children's health are concerned. This area is a new frontier, made even more evident as our country becomes more concerned with protecting ourselves not only from biological and chemical contamination from within our borders, but from beyond them as well... we need to implement effective techniques to remediate, medicate, and to track all of the possibilities that may come down the road. We collectively need a program like Ars Botanica that has the versatility, the flexibility, and the specificity to be effective for the long term.