CH 1 - Burn The Asbestos Gasket / The Aluminum Fire
Apr 15, 2009

CH 2 - Automotive Fires Gasoline or Electrical
Apr 15, 2009

CH 3 - The Blond Hair and The Missing Knife
Apr 15, 2009

CH 4 - The Brown Product Works / Public Service
Apr 15, 2009

CH 5 - A Fool for a Client
Apr 15, 2009

CH 7 - "Hit and Run" Homicide / No Batch Experiments!
"Hit and Run" Homicide

A mid summer call from a lawyer brought us into the less likeable aspects of analysis and materials identification. An old "hit and run" case had re-surfaced through discovery of a possible suspect vehicle.

During a severe snowstorm in a small town in a north east state a party of carousing snowmobilers had stopped by the roadside. Some of the party had been drinking and were probably not paying attention to where they were. Out of the blowing snow came an old pick up truck which hit one of the party and kept right on going into the thickly swirling flakes. The victim died shortly after impact.

After interviewing witnesses the local detachment of the state police recognized the description of the truck but were unable to locate it when confronting the registered owners. Several months later the truck was located in an old shed where attempts were being made to repair damage to the impact area. The police impounded the vehicle and charged one of the owner's family with numerous offences.

We examined the jacket the victim had been wearing at the time and there were numerous flakes of a powder blue paint, various auto body fillers and primers. Several of the multiple layered particles on the jacket matched the samples taken from the damaged area of the truck.

The court ruled the truck as the cause of death but the identity of the driver remains unknown.

No Batch Experiments!

An engineer from a contracting company requested some unusual testing on a quarter inch thick slab of silicon rubber. The specimen was soaked in distilled water and the total phenolic content, which leached into the water, was measured. The odor of phenolic compounds was quite distinct emanating from the sample and it was no surprise to see a positive analysis result entered into the lab records. The membrane was leaching phenolic compounds that imparted a strong "medicinal" taste and odor to the water.

Our report was written, invoice paid and we heard no more of the project for several years until a lawyer representing a contractor asked for our attendance at a meeting. The silicone rubber membrane had been used to line a municipal water storage tank that had produced tainted water. The tank liner was found to be defective in service and had to be removed at considerable expense. The meeting brought together the contractors representatives and legal counsel to plan out the course of action to be followed in suing the manufacturer to recover costs.

The batch preparation records were obtained from the manufacturer that described and recorded the preparations of the lots from which the defective product had been taken. The appropriate chemical and physical QA/QC testing had been done and conscientiously recorded. Also in with the testing records were notes describing cost saving experiments conducted with batch heat treatments at substantially lower temperatures and times than was the norm for production. It was these energy/cost saving experiments that had not heated the chemicals long enough for them to fully react and as a consequence produced the defective batch from which the un-reacted phenolic chemicals tainted the city water. The matter was settled out of court.