Environmental Forensics: Reconstructing Historic Releases 

Posted on August 12th, 2020

These techniques can help you determine if contamination is associated with a release on your property or an offsite source. 

Environmental forensics can help you determine if contamination is associated with a release on your property or an offsite source.

Environmental investigations are often not as obvious as watching contamination happen in real time. In many cases, contamination is discovered long after the discharge has occurred, and determining the source, extent, and person responsible for the release requires careful evaluation of how the event transpired.  

As time passes, contaminants break down, they are transported and diluted in groundwater, and may even comingle with other plumes nearby. Without forensic evidencedetermining who is responsible for historic contamination becomes very difficult and challenging to defend. Fortunately, modern environmental forensics provides us with a wide variety of powerful techniques to reconstruct past events. 

Using tools such as Compound Specific Isotope Analysis (CSIA), chemical fingerprinting, and Conceptual Site Models (CSMs), it is possible to identify the unique characteristics of a release, including the type of product, timing of the occurrence, and potential source of the material. By identifying the chemical signatures of the contaminants within a plume, it becomes much easier to distinguish between what may have happened on the site versus what may be attributable to an offsite or background source.  

JMS has successfully applied environmental forensic techniques throughout each environmental phase, including Due Diligence, Site Remediation, and litigation support. By applying these invaluable forensic tools, JMS is able to protect against unwarranted environmental liability and costs. JMS is continually assessing the ever-evolving field of environmental forensics to best serve our clients and avoid any unnecessary regulatory and legal concerns. 

If you are interested in learning more about which environmental forensic tools may be helpful for your projects, please contact us at 908-218-0066 or 


Timothy Beach 

Project Manager 

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