Environmental forensics experts, just like their counterparts in the police, can determine what has happened where, when and by who by examining the evidence. Hazel Davidson reports. This paper was first published in GE’s November 2006 issue.
The science of environmental forensics is a relatively new discipline but it is gaining recognition. Graduates are appearing on the job market with degrees in the subject more regularly, several conferences are now held throughout the year on the subject and Alcontrol laboratories (Hawarden) now has a small department concentrating on this field.
So what is environmental forensics? It covers a wide range of analytical instruments and specialist subjects. But it is driven by increasing legislation and in particular, the Environmental Liability Directive, which will come into force from the EU next year.
The “polluter pays principle” has been the driver of much SI and clean up work in the UK for some years, but with the added impetus of EU legislation, more cases could be heading for litigation in the near future.