Commercial Environmental Laboratories - Data Falsification Continues
Recent headlines in the California-based periodical, Press Telegram, reported that the owner of Cal Tech Environmental Laboratories, LLC (Cal Tech) located in Paramount, California, pleaded guilty to falsifying laboratory results. This action against Cal Tech calls into question environmental sample results from hundreds of investigations. The owner plead guilty to felony charges of falsifying data and overcharging taxpayers for services. The owner of Cal Tech was sentenced to 30 days of community service and was ordered to pay $190,000 in restitution to the state water board.
Until recently, Cal Tech had been an accredited laboratory, which was used in chemical cleanups since 1999 and was retained for environmental testing at spill sites including leaking underground storage tanks, evaluation of soil contamination at potential construction sites and detection of toxic compounds in groundwater. The data falsification dates back to 2014 – causing test results for hundreds of sites to be in doubt.
Investigations by the state of California Water Board turned up evidence of altered data, failed quality control tests, gaps in the possession of evidence, improper reuse of containers used for collecting samples and poor practices with laboratory equipment. The laboratory is not affiliated with the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, which is frequently referred to as CalTech.
Many continue to assume that when using an accredited laboratory, only minimal checks on data quality are necessary. Clearly that is not the case. That is why Environmental Standards, Inc. continues to perform intrusive on-site laboratory audits and critical third–party data validation. Those services allow our industrial clients to use laboratory data of known and demonstrated quality for remedial decisions, and also to minimize the likelihood that sites will need to be reopened due to an after-the-fact discovery of data falsification by a variety of regulatory and non-regulatory entities. Contact Rock J. Vitale, CEAC, Technical Director of Chemistry, for further information on conducting laboratory audits and/or third-party data validation.