Cooling towers at 7 Long Island school districts test positive for Legionella bacteria

Source:, October 7, 2015
By: Kristin Thorne

Cooling towers in at least seven Long Island school districts have tested positive for the presence of the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease.

The Legionella bacteria was found in the Mount Sinai, Sachem, Middle Country, Smithtown, Hauppague, Connetquot and Port Washington school districts.

School officials say the cooling towers were taken off-line immediately, and most have been disinfected already. So far, no teachers, staff or students have fallen ill.

“We trust the school, and they’re good to our kids,” parent Bobbie Jo Pyne said. “So I would say they would keep them safe and would tell us if anything wasn’t.”

That was the reaction from most parents who spoke to Eyewitness News upon learning the news. Parents of children at Sequoya Middle School in Holtsville learned about it Wednesday.

“We got a phone call today that they found traces in three of the schools,” said dad John Pyne, who added he was not overly concerned and that they wouldn’t be pulling their child out of class.

Brendan Broderick is the president of environmental consulting company J.C. Broderick and Associates, which has been tasked with checking for Legionella in the cooling towers of many of the local school districts. He says the fact that Legionella has been found in so many schools should not be alarming, as it is a naturally occurring bacteria. He says it’s more of a testament to the diligence of school administrators.

“They’re going out, they’re following the rules,” he said, “They’re actually inspecting their towers, and they’re being transparent if they’re finding it.”

The water in the cooling tower system does not provide water to the kitchen sinks, the bathrooms, the water fountains or any water that is consumed.

Legionella is ubiquitous in the environment, and Legionnaires’ disease is very treatable with antibiotics. The disease cannot be spread from person to person, and groups at high risk include people who are middle-aged or older, especially cigarette smokers, people with chronic lung disease or weakened immune systems.

Valmont cleanup treating TCE danger

Source: Standard-Speaker (Hazleton, PA), October 5, 2015
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Pouring a chemical into wells at a Superfund site in the Valmont Industrial Park is neutralizing a hazardous substance that leaked into ground water decades ago, the project manager overseeing the cleanup for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said.

Brad White, the manager, also said a consultant recently looked for ways to fine tune the treatment, which began four years ago.

In the treatment, a purple liquid called sodium permanganate flows down injection wells to mix with a cancer-causing chemical called trichloroethylene, which spilled from the former Chromatex plant between 1978 and 1988.

Because people living near the plant now drink municipal water, the groundwater doesn’t present a health risk to them currently. The EPA, however, wants to reduce the levels of trichloroethylene or TCE to 5 parts per million so the groundwater is suitable for future use, White said.

There is strong evidence that TCE causes kidney cancer in humans and limited evidence that it causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and liver cancer, the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry said.

Injections of sodium permanganate began in Valmont in 2011 after the EPA tested a similar compound, potassium permanganate, in 2009.

The tests led EPA to conclude that underground injections would neutralize TCE. Continue reading

Patriot Coal, West Virginia Agree on $50 Million Cleanup

Source: Dow Jones News Service, October 6, 2015
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Patriot Coal Corp. and state regulators overseeing its West Virginia mines on Tuesday struck a deal that provides $50 million to cover cleanup costs and resolves a sticking point to the coal company’s efforts to move forward with its debt-payment plan.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection had been one of the more-vocal opponents of Patriot’s debt-payment plan, which is tied to the sale of its mines to new owners. The state regulator had feared that even with a successful sale, there wouldn’t be enough funds to cover Patriot’s current and future environmental obligations tied to the mines.

The deal announced on Tuesday would see Patriot post $12.5 million in cash to assure its performance of land-reclamation and water-treatment obligations in West Virginia, provided by the hedge funds currently financing Patriot’s chapter 11 case.

Another $7.5 million would come from one of Patriot’s proposed buyers, Blackhawk Mining LLC. The remaining $30 million would come from the cash generated by Patriot’s Federal mining complex under the ownership of its proposed buyer, an affiliate of the nonprofit Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund.

The roughly $158 million in surety bonds Patriot has already posted as a condition of its mining permits issued by West Virginia would remain in place under the deal, which depends upon the Patriot sales and debt-payment plan securing court approval.

“These were the direct results of the DEP’s aggressive action that we took in bankruptcy court,” said Kevin Barrett, the Bailey & Glasser lawyer representing the agency in the case.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Richmond, Va., is slated to take up the sale and debt payment proposals at a hearing Wednesday. Patriot pushed off Tuesday’s scheduled hearing date, in order to continue negotiations to resolve creditors’ objections to the plan.

Risk allocation in P3s

Source:, September 30, 2015
By: Harry Z. Rippeon, III, Smith Currie & Hancock

The success or failure of many construction projects depends on accurate risk evaluation.  How well a party can evaluate, shift, or price risk can be a determining factor in the project’s overall success and the party’s financial well-being.  Under traditional project delivery methods, an owner provided the necessary site and design to the contractor for construction and took the keys upon project completion. Owners, both public and private, bore the risk of providing an accessible site, adequate design, necessary governmental approvals, and ultimate operation and maintenance.  In the past decade, many owners have sought to move away from this traditional risk allocation. The popularity of the design-build method is in part a result of owners seeking to shift the risk of project design. Other project delivery methods such as CM at Risk and Integrated Project Delivery also change traditional project delivery risk allocation. For contractors, one of the most challenging new developments is the increased use of Public-Private Partnerships, commonly referred to as P3s or PPP’s.  P3s have become a valuable tool for public owners to overcome the financing burdens for large education, transportation, or utility projects. By adding responsibility not only for design but also for financing and operation, P3s have significantly complicated project risk evaluation.

In a P3, a public owner typically enters into an agreement with a private developer or contractor to shift the burden of financing and operating a construction project. Contractors have long known that owners encourage them to finance construction, particularly changed work. In a P3 the contractor willingly accepts that risk of financing in exchange for an operational revenue stream upon completion.  Given the current condition of the country’s transportation, utility, and educational infrastructure, P3 opportunities are poised for growth. Continue reading

Legionella, the Bacteria that Causes Legionnaires’ Disease, Found in GHS Cooling Tower

Source:, October 5, 2015

On Monday night the Greenwich Superintendent of Schools, Dr. William McKersie, emailed parents and staff to say that on October 1, the three schools in town with cooling towers — GHS, ISD and Riverside — were tested proactively in light of recent reports of Legionnaire’s disease in the Bronx.

The testing identified Legionella bacteria in the GHS cooling tower adjacent to the West parking lot.

Dr. McKersie said in the email that immediately upon receiving test results, the Health Dept at Town Hall was contacted and a water treatment contractor disinfected the cooling tower.

“After consulting with the Greenwich Director of Health, we do not believe these findings pose an increased risk to the health of students and staff. The type of Legionella bacteria identified is not the strain that is commonly associated with causing disease in people. Further, most healthy individuals do not become infected with Legionaella bacteria after exposure,” McKersie said in the emailed statement.

According to the CDC, Legionnaires’ Disease may also be called “legionellosis” (LEE-juh-nuh-low-sis). Legionellosis, is a type of pneumonia that is caused by Legionella bacterium. Legionella bacteria are naturally found in the environment, usually in water, growing best in warm water such as cooling towers, hot tubs, hot water tanks, large plumbing systems and decorative fountains. Though people may get sick when they breathe in contaminated water vapor, the bacteria are not spread from person to person. Those at high risk of getting sick are people over 50, current or former smokers, and those with chronic lung disease, weakened immune systems and those taking immunosuppressant drugs.

McKersie’s statement said the Facilities Department has a water treatment vendor that regularly checks and disinfects cooling towers at ISD, Riverside and GHS.

“According to our hygienist, the additional pollen generated during the fall can lessen the efficacy of the cooling tower treatments,” McKersie said in his statement.

The Superintendent’s email included a sheet of FAQ’s about Legionalla from the health department and reminded recipients that this is flu and pneumonia season and to get immunized against fly viruses, and “see a health care provider immediately if you have signs or symptoms of the flu or pneumonia.”

Lowe’s Settles EPA Lead Paint Violations By Its Contractors

Source:, April 17, 2015
By: Matthew Larotonda

Home improvement giant Lowe’s Companies Inc. has agreed to pay $500,000 after federal investigators found its home renovation contractors in nine states had violated safety standards for lead paint. The retail chain was also unable to provide documentation proving some contractors employed by the company were certified to work with the toxic substance, the Environmental Protection Agency and Justice Department said today.

The investigation by the EPA stemmed from tips and complaints from homeowners who had used Lowe’s renovation contractors. In reviews of company records the government found contractors had not used EPA-approved lead-test kits on projects, or lacked proper training to work with the hazardous element known to cause developmental problems in children and kidney and cardiovascular illness in adults.

The EPA also found contractors had failed to properly clean and contain work areas in three homes, although the agency emphasized they had not found any direct cases of bodily harm in the course of their investigation. The punishment sought against Lowe’s was more cautionary, they said. Officials also stated the violations were not company-wide, but isolated to certain brick-and-mortar stores discovered in their investigation.

“This is not to send an alarm signal that people who have had work repairs done should be alarmed about this,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Robert Dreher said in a conference call with reporters today. Continue reading

Legionella bacteria found in 3 Pittsburgh hospital fixtures

Source:, October 4, 2015

Authorities say three water fixtures at the Pittsburgh Veterans Affairs hospital have tested positive for bacteria that causes Legionnaire’s disease.

Veterans Affairs officials said Friday that the affected fixtures at the Oakland hospital include a patient shower, a staff sink and a public sink, but the type of Legionella bacteria found in the sinks rarely causes illness in people.

Officials are investigating whether the shower bacteria could have contributed to any patient illness. Officials said the Oakland hospital diagnosed the deadly form of pneumonia in three veterans last month, all of whom have recovered.

Dr. Brooke Decker, director of infection prevention, said the fixtures are closed and will be cleaned and retested.

Legionnaire’s disease killed at least six Pittsburgh VA patients and sickened 22 others in 2011 and 2012.


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