Shows & Panels
- The 2014 Big Picture on Cyber Security
- AFCEA Answers
- Ask the CIO
- Connected Government
- Consolidating Mission-critical Systems
- Constituent Servicing
- Continuous Monitoring: Tools and Techniques for Trustworthy Government IT
- The Data Privacy Imperative: Safeguarding Sensitive Data
- Eliminating the Pitfalls: Steps to Virtualization in Government
- Federal Executive Forum
- Federal Tech Talk
- Government Cloud Brokerage: Who, What, When, Where, Why?
- Government Mobility
- Mission-critical Apps in the Cloud
- Mobile Device Management
- The Modern Federal Threat Landscape
- The Path from Legacy Systems
- Understanding the Intersection of Customer Service and Security in the Cloud
Shows & Panels
Cool Jobs: CSI Environment
Monday - 9/12/2011, 2:01am EDT
Federal News Radio
You won't find any bodies or blood at this crime scene investigation.
Instead, the special agents and chemists on EPA's criminal enforcement team test chemicals from buried drums, asbestos stripped from buildings or water samples from a contaminated lake.
"We act as the forensics laboratory," said K. Eric Nottingham, senior advisor to the director of the National Enforcement Investigations Center in Denver, Colo.
The center is part of EPA's division that prosecutes civil and criminal cases against environmental offenders.
Nottingham's career with EPA spans nearly four decades. When he started working in a laboratory, the EPA was still in its infancy. He said the offenses in his early career were more egregious than they are now.
"People really didn't think it was an actual crime to throw a barrel of hazardous waste in somebody's back lot," he said.
The methods of polluting have become more sophisticated, but so have the methods of testing for contaminants. Since 9/11, the labs were asked to handle any chemical, including those found in terrorist attacks. Typically, the lab can identify the chemical within a few hours, Nottingham said.
A law school drop-out, Nottingham said he knew he didn't want to become a lawyer, but the training did come in handy when the Justice Department needed him to testify in criminal cases.
"A lot of people — a lot of chemists especially — they aren't verbal people. They have a hard time getting in front of a jury and trying to explain their work and defend it against a defense attorney who's trying to make them look bad," Nottingham said.
On the other hand, Nottingham said he enjoyed the "verbal jousting."
This story is part of the Cool Jobs in Government series.