Sheryl Barr

August 17, 2017

Capping Colstrip ash ponds will cost $138M, Talen Energy estimates

Source:, August 15, 2017
By: Tom Lutey


An aerial view shows Colstrip power plants 1, 2, 3 and 4 and the Westmoreland coal mines near Colstrip.

Talen Energy has put a $138 million price tag on capping Colstrip Power Plant’s toxic coal ash ponds.

The co-owner and operator of the southeast Montana coal-fired power plant submitted the required estimates earlier this month to the state’s Department of Environmental Quality. Capping the ash ponds is only one portion of a three-stage cleanup plan, and likely the cheapest of the three.

It’s estimated that every year 200 million gallons of contaminated water seeps from the ash ponds into the groundwater, rendering the groundwater undrinkable for the Colstrip community of about 2,300.

The contamination has been occurring for 30 years. The polluted ponds’ worst ingredient is “bottom ash,” a highly concentrated coal ash sludge that contains lead, arsenic, boron and other toxic chemicals that can cause liver, kidney, brain and testicle damage.

The cost estimate filed at the beginning of August was a DEQ requirement of an administrative order of consent, or AOC, from August 2012. Talen had five years to submit a cost estimate for the “closure” phase of the cleanup. Estimates for the other two stages do not have hard deadlines and haven’t been submitted.

August 17, 2017

Two people got Legionnaire’s disease at Dallas King Spa, lawsuit says

Source:, August 16, 2017
Posted on:

A lawsuit has been filed against King Spa in Dallas by two people who say they contracted Legionnaires’ disease after visiting the 24-hour Korean spa.

Adam Flores, who visited the spa on Feb. 16, and Stacey DeLeon, who visited on March 28, both developed serious respiratory issues two to three days after their visits, according to the lawsuit.

Hyun Kim, a manager at King Spa located at 2154 Royal Lane, said she was not aware of the lawsuit and could not comment on it. But she did say that the spa uses a chlorine water system that is regularly inspected.

During their separate visits, Flores and DeLeon, who did not know one another, both used the spa’s showers, saunas, hot tubs and pools. The lawsuit alleges that Flores and DeLeon inhaled Legionella bacteria that was in the spa’s water system and disseminated via steam.

Their attorney could not be reached for comment.

Legionella bacteria grow in fresh water and can multiply and rapidly spread in man-made water systems, particularly in hot tubs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Legionnaires’ disease occurs when people breathe in droplets of contaminated water.…

August 17, 2017

Large West Texas wastewater spill in Delaware River diluted by rain, BLM says

Source: Houston Chronicle, August 15, 2017
Posted on:

Heavy rain may have softened the environmental blow of a large wastewater spill in the Delaware River near West Texas oil fields earlier this month, officials say.

Before dawn on Aug. 1, a few miles south of the Texas border with New Mexico, an over-pressured flow line ruptured and dumped 18,000 barrels of wastewater and 11 barrels of oil into the Delaware River, flowing for seven hours into the Pecos River and the Red Bluff Reservoir before it was discovered.

“Anything this big is a pretty good sized event,” said James Amos, a supervisory petroleum engineering tech at the Bureau of Land Management’s field office in Carlsbad, New Mexico. “Hitting the waterway makes it even worse.”

The wastewater spill was several times larger than the typical 200-to-300 barrel spills in the region. Scores of fish were killed near the source of the spill. But a rain storm lifted water levels in the Delaware 3 feet higher than normal, diluting the effect of the wastewater spill.…

August 16, 2017

State funds to be used in clean up of former dry cleaners

Source:, August 8, 2017
By: Ariel Carmona Jr.

Former Redwood Empire Cleaners property, May 2017. PHOTO SUBMITTED

Former Redwood Empire Cleaners property, May 2017. PHOTO SUBMITTED

A state funded grant program designed to allow agencies to tackle projects addressing potential harm to human health and safety caused by surface groundwater contamination will be partly used to help clean up the former Redwood Empire Cleaners property, according to a spokesperson for the North Coast Regional Water Control Board.

The former cleaners located at 69 West Mendocino Avenue, along with other properties such as the former REMCO location have created environmental hazards and have been a thorn in civic leaders’ side and in their ability to attract tourists into the area, as have other vacant and abandoned facilities throughout the city.

Clean up of problem properties led to the creation of a proposed city ordinance that would penalize owners of vacant buildings, but after discussion by the city council last fall, the ordinance was placed on hold as planning staff devote their limited resources to completing the city’s cannabis regulations.

The state water board’s website states the grant program has an annual appropriation of $19.5 million to abate human made contaminants.…

August 16, 2017

Professional Services Exclusion Bars Coverage Where Ordinary Negligence is Inseparably Intertwined With Professional Service

Source:, August 14,2 017

In Energy Ins. Mutual Ltd. v. Ace American Ins. Co. (No. A140656, filed 7/11/17, ord. Pub. 8/10/17), a California appeals court found that a professional services exclusion barred coverage for wrongful death and other claims blamed on pipeline inspectors’ failure to identify and properly mark a gas pipeline that was ruptured during construction of another pipeline, resulting in an explosion and fire.

In Energy Ins. Mutual, a pipeline owner hired two temporary construction inspectors through a staffing company. The inspectors had to ensure compliance with engineering and safety standards, practices and procedures for pipeline construction, and understand construction drawings and blueprints. They worked together with one of the owner’s employees to perform daily surveillance to ensure the integrity of the pipeline and avoid third party damage.

An excavator operated by a subcontractor punctured a high-pressure petroleum line releasing gasoline into the pipe trench that was ignited by another contractor’s welding. The resulting explosion and fire killed five employees, seriously injured four others and caused extensive property damage. A Cal/OSHA investigation concluded that failure to properly mark the petroleum pipeline was the primary cause. Wrongful death and other lawsuits followed.…

August 14, 2017

Avoiding Unintended Liability for Design

Source:, August 8, 2017
By: Daniel McLennon, Smith Currie & Hancock

A recent trend in design-build contracting, especially on large projects, is for the owner to incorporate a heightened standard of care for the design aspects of the building. Creeping into contracts is language requiring the project to perform according to unspecified expectations, such as “fit for owner’s use” or “suitable for the use intended”. This heightened, ambiguous standard of care conflicts with the traditional designer’s standard of care—the ordinary care expected of reasonably competent designers—leaving a gap between the performance that may be required from the design team and the performance expected by the owner. This gap may result in uninsurable exposure to the design builder. This article explores that gap and how to prevent or handle it.

Traditional Design-Bid-Build Projects

In a traditional design-bid-build project, the owner hires the design team, and the contractor builds the design provided to it by the owner. The design team is typically liable to the owner for any failure to meet the standard of care resulting in design deficiencies. The owner would absorb any loss related to failure of the building to perform according to the owner’s expectations that did not result from a breach of the standard of care. Anecdotally, studies have shown that these losses have ranged between 3-4% of a project’s hard costs.…

August 14, 2017

Non-toxic black mold found in Chico condos, 6 condos affected

Source:, August 9, 2017
By: Jerry Olenyn

Heavy rains expose design flaw in gutter system

Six condominiums in the Doe Mill subdivision at East 20th and Hutchinson Streets are being cleaned, repaired and redesigned because of a design flaw in the gutters, after non-toxic black mold was discovered inside.

Tom DiGiovanni, the president of New Urban Builders, acknowledged that his company is responsible and is paying for the temporary living costs of the three homeowners and three landlords.

The flaw was in the metallic gutters, which weren’t large enough to handle the torrential downpour of rain and wind that came crashing into the condos during the severe winter storms, as the water seeped into the walls.

“Especially when it was driving rain…that was wind-driven,” said DiGiovanni.

Chico code enforcement officer Leo DePaola said it appeared to him that this was a design issue that was exposed by the severe weather.

“Typically if you have a failure in one particular facet, it’s repeated multiple times,” said DePaola.

The three homeowners and three landlords will to have remain patient, as work may not be completed for at least three months.

DiGiovanni said his company recently received permission from their insurance company to complete the work, which includes re-stuccoing the outside of the buildings.…

August 10, 2017

Environmental Issues that Arise in Retail and Other Commercial Businesses

Source:, August 9, 2017
By: Patricia L. Boye-Williams, Murtha Cullina LLP

Owners, lessors, lessees, and developers of retail and other commercial properties are often unaware of the scope of environmental laws that apply to their businesses and/or properties. Unfortunately, they often become aware that they have failed to register for a required permit or manage waste property after an environmental agency (such as the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (“CT DEEP”), the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (“MA DEP”), or the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”)) notifies them that their property or business operations violate environmental laws. Further, while tenants can often limit their liability to those violations associated with their own actions, property owners are liable for both their own actions, as well as the actions of their tenants.

Issues can arise in the context of retail and other commercial businesses with respect to environmental laws that govern:

  • Proper disposal and management of hazardous materials including expired pharmaceuticals, some cleaning products, products recalled for lead paint, and certain pesticides;
  • Renovating or selling a building that contains hazardous building materials such as lead paint, asbestos, and polychlorinated biphenyls (“PCBs”) (these are often found in buildings constructed prior to 1972);
  • Stormwater Permits for large parking lots and other impervious surfaces or for construction of new buildings and significant renovations;
  • Underground storage tanks used for storing heating oil, diesel or other fuel, or other materials; and
  • Management of environmental liabilities when a property or business is transferred to a new owner (including issues arising under the Connecticut Transfer Act).

Each of these issues is addressed in greater detail below.…

August 10, 2017

Con Ed’s Gowanus Service Yard Slated For Environmental Cleanup

Source:, August 10,2 017
By: Marc Torrence

The site, between First and Third streets and Third and Fourth avenues, will be investigated by the state’s Brownfield Cleanup Program.

Con Ed's Gowanus Service Yard Slated For Environmental CleanupThe Con Edison service yard in Gowanus will undergo a cleanup of toxic chemicals overseen by state officials, according to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

The area, bounded by First and Third streets and Third and Fourth avenues, will be tested as part of the Brownfield Cleanup Program, the state initiative that offers tax breaks to developers who clean polluted land.

The DEC said Thursday that it would be accepting public feedback on its plan to install and sample soil bearings along with testing groundwater on the site.

Afterward, a cleanup plan will be proposed detailing how to clean up the site, or recommending that no cleanup is necessary at all.

Investigators will be looking into the levels of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP), petroleum and urban fill contamination at the site, according to DEC.

The nearly 7-acre plot started as a baseball field in the late 1800s and early 1900s, according to the state, before it became a warehouse. Brooklyn Edison bought the land in 1925 and used it as “an electric utility work-out location.” Parts of it also housed gas stations that were operated by third parties, according to the state.

Con Ed will perform the investigations and necessary cleanup, with oversight by DEC and the New York State Department of Health.…

August 10, 2017

Tank Leak Oozes 300,000 Tons Of Molten Glass Into Ohio Plant

Read here about a ruptured tank at an Ohio plant that spilled molten glass.…