Environmental Forensics – How can it help you?

Common questions about contamination very often arise on many sites: Is this “my” contamination? Did it originate from somewhere else? When did it happen? How much am I responsible for?Environmental forensics can assist your project in myriad ways. It is not always about pointing a finger at someone else—although sometimes it is—it is about finding the real source of the issue on your own site. Think of it as a diagnostic tool. Identifying one source from a number of possible site sources.

Forensics means more than just a chemical fingerprint. It means using all available information to understand a source: chemistry, history, land use, contaminant distribution. Sometimes it means using very simple analyses to crack the problem. For instance, at an example Site, water infiltration in a basement caused a concern that the vapor/waterproofing barrier breached and incoming contaminated groundwater would harm residents. Others had tried to identify the source using conventional chemical analyses but had been unable to determine the source. FLS tried a different approach and collected basic groundwater quality parameters to assess the situation. By plotting these data effectively, the information was transformed into an understandable and diagnostic tool. FLS arranged and plotted the data as shown below.

Careful forensic analysis combined with the site operational knowledge led to the conclusion that groundwater from a breached barrier was not the source; rather, the source was from an internal equipment malfunction that flooded the basement! The radically different conduit fingerprint was the key to identifying the source of the basement water. This meant the difference between a routine mechanical fix and a prolonged and costly investigation and interaction with the regulatory agency. With FLS’s finding, the regulatory agency was immediately removed from the equation—and the plumber called.

At FLS we understand these issues and routinely use environmental forensics to answer questions about contaminant sources and site issues. Through consultation and analysis, we can help you resolve questions of contaminant source, date of release, and other practical questions for site management. Our clients often come to us because they know we will think “out of the box” and develop solutions to their unique problems, usually environmental, but not always. Let us know how we can help you! Please see our website at www.flemingleeshue.com to find more about our company and the services we offer. You can also call 212-675-3225 or email Mark Hutson at mark@flemingleeshue.com.