The evaluation of a contaminated site under both the state and federal regulatory frameworks involves sample collection, laboratory analysis, and comparison of results against relevant criteria. Remediation is required for areas of the site that exceed these criteria. This process is costly, often resulting in mediation over the allocation of remedial costs or litigation related to cost recovery. Strong liability arguments are needed to define and support your (or your client’s) share of costs. Environmental forensic methods are a powerful tool that can be used to support these arguments.
Environmental Forensic Methods
Environmental forensics is a blanket term used for a wide variety of statistical methods conducted with the intent of differentiating sources of environmental contamination. These methods can be used to help reveal the potential sources (and likely parties) responsible for contamination at your site. Examples of these forensic techniques include:
As noted, regulatory guidance is intended to define and delineate the extent of remediation. It is not intended to help determine liability. As a result, data collected under the remedial investigation process is often insufficient for analysis using the above techniques. Dr. Hafner and Mr. Cammarata have successfully used forensic methods at a variety of sites. In addition, they have experience preparing effective study designs that meet regulatory requirements while also achieving the data quality objectives required for forensic analysis. Planning ahead in this manner can avoid the significant expense of resampling.
Forensic methods are a powerful tool for getting more out of your chemical data. Findings from these methods should always be supplemented with thorough historical research of your site. Connecting a chemical source signature identified via forensics with historical records of product usage provides an additional line of evidence. Please contact Dr. Hafner or Mr. Cammarata to discuss how we can support a forensic and historical investigation of your contaminated site.
Figure 1. Chromatographic “fingerprint” for a) gasoline and b) diesel range hydrocarbons.