Forensic Geology in Environmental Crime: Illegal Waste Movement Burial in Northern Ireland

Alastair Ruffell, Lynne Dawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The illegal burial of waste often occurs in locations where loose, transferable material is abundant, allowing covert pits to be dug or filled. The transfer of waste material onto suspects and their vehicles during loading, unloading, and burial is common, as is the case during other criminal activities such as the burial of murder victims. We use two case studies to show that the established principles of using geological materials in excluding or linking suspects can be applied to illegal waste disposal. In the first case, the layering of different geological materials on the tailgate of a container used to transport toxic waste demonstrated where the vehicle had been and denied the owner's alibi, associating him with an illegal dumpsite. In the second case, an unusual suite of minerals, recovered from a suspect's trousers, provided the intelligence that led environmental law enforcement officers to an illegal waste burial site.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-213
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Forensics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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