Ground-water contamination resulting from the leakage of crude oil and refined petroleum products during extraction and processing operations is a serious and a growing environmental problem in Nigeria. Consequently, a study of the use of activated carbon (AC) in the clean up was undertaken with the aim of reducing the water contamination to a more acceptable level. In the experiments described, crude-oil contamination of ground water was simulated under laboratory conditions using ground-water samples collected from existing hand-dug wells at Eagle Island, Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Different masses of the absorbent (i.e., activated carbon) were then added to the samples of ground water. The so treated water samples were left to equilibrate for 7 days, after which the total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) contents of the samples were measured. Adsorption isotherms were derived for the two forms of activated carbon used, namely granular activated-carbon (GAC) and powdered activated-carbon (PAC). Results of the TPH analyses showed that activated carbon is an excellent means for the stripping-off of the contaminant: there were decreases in contaminant concentration from an initial concentration of 9304.70 mg/l to average final concentrations of 361.00 and 12.37 mg/l, that is, 96% and 99.9% resulting from the same amounts of GAC and PAC applications respectively. The results of this study revealed that the powdered form of AC would be very effective in the remediation of petroleum-hydrocarbon contaminated ground water and its use is therefore recommended
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