The environmental fixers

June 2016

Local scientists create kits to clean-up toxic sites.

Two bright Thunder Bay scientists have created an organic solution for treating contaminated industrial work sites using natural organisms.

Amber Kivisto and Miranda Lock were both born and raised in Thunder Bay and both attended Lakehead University. Dr. Lock obtained a PhD in environmental biotechnology while Amber is currently completing her PhD in the same field. Putting their innovative minds to work they’ve created BioNorth Solutions, a growing start-up environmental company.

BioNorth is focused on addressing soil contamination issues that exist throughout Northern Ontario, and their uniquely developed solution could be used worldwide.

Amber shares the inspiration for the creation of the company. “A large amount of our Northern Ontario economy is generated by mining, forestry and construction. We wanted to develop a natural, green product to clean land contaminated with heavy metals, oils, acids and cyanide. Rather than having to haul soil away at great cost, we developed solutions to dissolve contaminants on the original site. First, we determine the microorganisms present, and then we introduce the appropriate microbes that can be added to degrade the spill. When contaminates have degraded sufficiently and their level drops below environmental standards, the site is deemed clean” says Amber. BioNorth uses microbes sourced from Northern Ontario, making it possible for them to withstand the climate and other environmental factors. To date BioNorth’s commercial spill response kits have successfully been used to remediate contaminated sites in the Thunder Bay area.

Many local organizations have helped these two entrepreneurs grow and develop their business including the N.W.O. Innovation Centre, CEDC and Northern Ontario Heritage Fund. “These organizations have provided some great assistance to us in setting our company in the right direction”, shares Amber.

For more on the exciting work being done by these local scientists, go to

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