Workshop: Environmental Crime Scene Analysis

SESSION E12 / / 11:10 - 12:50
Workshop: Environmental Crime Scene Analysis
Chair / Presidente: Claire Gwinnett (UK), George K. Varghese (IN), Alberto Pivato, Francesco Garbo, Giovanni Beggio (IT)

Aims of Workshop

1. To introduce key crime scene activities that can be employed in an environmental based scenario, including scene documentation, sampling and continuity of evidence.
2. To apply new crime scene knowledge to a landfill leachate spill scene.
3. To identify key issues in scene investigation that would need consideration by a forensic engineer.

Case Scenario

During the routine control activities, a worker noticed a leachate spill from the Forte Village Landfill, an above-ground landfill filled with municipal solid waste, 15 m high.
He reported that the leachate spill was located on the northern side: a fraction of the leachate was collected by the rainwater collection trench and was discharged in the Sardinia River; the uncollected fraction, due to the surface runoff, reached a nearby agricultural field, creating several wastewater ponds.
Few minutes after being informed, the landfill's manager activated the emergency procedures: the supplementary pumps were activated to drain the landfill body and stop the spill.
After 2 weeks, (no rain), evidence of the accident is still present:
• no presence of grass in the field in which leachate ponds were observed
• the soil exhibits a black/dark colour
• no apparent loss of biodiversity in the Sardinia River (fishermen are still fishing in the nearby areas)

As a Forensic Environmental Engineer, you are requested to assess the potential environmental damage due to the reported accident. The local legal court assigned you the duty to plan and supervise the sampling campaign in order to gather data useful to justify whether environmental contamination occurred and the possible need for remediation.
You have been informed that the landfill is located in a rural area in which several vineyards are present.