Clearwater performs forensic studies to evaluate environmental, engineering, and construction incidents or events. Most normal environmental and engineering projects start with a task and proceed with accomplishing the goals. In a forensic study, the incident (a spill, an accident, a catastrophic event) is the starting point, and the project looks to put the event in context, supported with consultant reports, laboratory data, and other normally obtained environmental information. Traditional mitigation environmental and engineering projects are frequently focused on future actions and events, such as prevention of spills and leaks, proper health and safety training, and attaining specific technical objectives and goals.
Forensic studies are different from traditional environmental and engineering projects in that the focus is on evaluating the past in a methodical manner. Starting with the set of consultant reports and files, timelines and narratives are developed in a forensic study using depositions, regulatory files, interview transcripts, historic Phase I Environmental Site Assessments, newspaper articles, historic aerial photographs, historic maps, consultant and contractor invoices, past health and safety plans, daily field tickets, and other information.
The firm has worked for insurance companies and attorneys in collecting new foresnic evidence to explain complex subsurface conditions or events. Environmental molecular diagnostics are used to analyze biological and chemical characteristics of groundwater, surface water, soil, sediments, mineral ores, petroleum hydrocarbons and other compounds. These advanced techniques incorporate dozens of emerging analytical methods including Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), compound specific isotope chemistry analysis, enzyme activity probes, microbial analysis and identification and other techniques to provide supporting forensic evidence for complex environmental and engineering cases. Passive vapor organic compound sorber surveys and historic aerial photographs can also be used to piece together the likely events of an accident, spill, or chemical release.