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ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEER AND GROUNDWATER MODELING EXPERT TO SPEAK AT BARD COLLEGE ON THURSDAY, MAY 6 The Distinguished Scientist Lecture Series Continues with George F. Pinder, Professor of Civil and Environmental engineering at the University of Vermont

Darren O'Sullivan

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—On Thursday, May 6, the Distinguished Scientist Lecture Series at Bard College will present Dr. George F. Pinder, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Research Center for Groundwater Remediation Design at the University of Vermont. Pinder's presentation, "Beneath the Surface of A Civil Action: The Woburn Trial Revisited," explores the difficulties in sorting out the science behind this famous water contamination trial. The talk takes place at 7:30 p.m. in Olin Hall on the Bard College campus. Refreshments will be served after the lecture.

Pinder's lecture will explore the complicated science behind the famous groundwater contamination case that served as the basis of the book and movie A Civil Action. In that federal court case, seven families in Woburn, Massachusetts, accused three corporations of being responsible for contaminating groundwater that they believed caused their children to contract leukemia. At the heart of their case was the allegation that contaminants from the defendants' properties migrated to two public-supply wells, and that these contaminants caused a cluster of leukemia cases.

Expert witnesses on both sides employed groundwater models and field experiments, but the ensuing determinations were inconsistent with one another. Nevertheless, the jury was asked to make a determination based upon these conflicting opinions. Given the complexity of the case, this was a Herculean task. The resulting verdict highlights the challenges faced by laymen in comprehending and evaluating abstract scientific evidence.

Pinder has been an expert witness in numerous court cases and is the author of numerous papers, book chapters, and several books on the subjects of hydrology and groundwater modeling. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the O. E. Meinzer Award, presented by the Geological Society of America for an outstanding contribution to the field of hydrogeology; the Eminent Scientists Award medal, and the Julian Hinds Medal of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He was president of the hydrology section of the American Geophysical Union and is currently president of the International Society for Computational Methods in Engineering. Pinder has a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois and a B.Sc. from the University of Western Ontario. He was previously chairman of the Department of Civil Engineering at Princeton University.

For more information on the Distinguished Scientist Lecture Series, call 845-758-7581.

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This event was last updated on 04-23-2004