Sheryl Barr

June 28, 2017

Insurers Must Pay the Pipe(r): The Continued Corrosion of the Pollution Exclusion

Source:, June 26, 2017
By: Matthew Jeweler, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

The Flint, Mich., water crisis returned to the news recently as criminal charges were brought against additional government employees resulting from the crisis. Meanwhile, a federal court in Pennsylvania recently issued a ruling in an insurance case that, like Flint, related to alleged contamination in drinking water stemming from corroded pipes. The decision rejects two insurers’ attempts to avoid coverage and serves as a good reminder of some fundamental insurance law principles—the duty to defend is broad, ambiguous policy language usually is construed against the insurer, and policies should be interpreted in favor of their purpose to provide coverage. It is also a reminder that the pollution exclusion is not nearly as all-encompassing as insurers like to think it is.

The Netherlands Insurance Company v. Butler Area School District involved a coverage claim by a school district and a few of its high-ranking officials that had been sued in a toxic tort class action that alleged elementary school students had consumed high levels of lead and copper through the school’s water system. The class action complaint alleged that the school district did not properly operate a chlorinator in the water system, resulting in excessive concentrations of chlorine that accelerated the corrosion of the water pipes. The corroding pipes allegedly leached lead and copper into the drinking water.…

June 27, 2017

EPA cleanup could displace West Deptford residents

Source:, June 23, 2017
By: Carly Q. Romalino

Homes could be evacuated as a neighborhood littered with bits of lead-contaminated car batteries becomes a construction zone for federal cleanup crews.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency indicated Thursday it will move forward with cleanup of the Tempo Development at Crown Point Road and Hessian Avenue in West Deptford. The neighborhood includes private residences on Woodlane Drive, Birchly Court and Oakmont Court. .

In 2015, sewer work on a Birchly Court property revealed a cache of crushed battery casings. EPA investigators determined the bits of car batteries were the source of high lead levels in soil on the property and many others nearby. Debris was discovered on properties all over the neighborhood.

Later, officials linked the contaminated site to Matteo & Sons, a recycler on Crown Point Road listed as a federal Superfund environmental site since 2006. Matteo & Sons once owned the ground where the Tempo Development was built in the 1990s, officials said.…

June 27, 2017

$200K Awarded for Parker Seal Cleanup

Source:, June 26, 2017

A $200,000 grant has been awarded for the environmental clean-up of the former Parker Seal plant in Berea. The Brownfields Program grant was secured from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by the Kentucky River Foothills Development Council Inc. (KRFDC) in partnership with Fahe in Berea.

Located at 103 Lewis Street, the Parker Seal property is said to be impacted by trichloroethene and debris that remained after the plant closed in 2001. The Brownfields Program provides EPA funding for cleanup and reuse of contaminated properties.

Part of the proceeds from the grant will allow the KRFDC to stage neighborhood forums informing local residents about the remediation process. The meetings will also allow KRFDC to gather citizen input regarding the kinds of economic development projects that could result once the chemicals and debris are cleared from the site.

Potential uses of the property include a senior daycare center, a service center with business incubator space, a food distribution/farmer’s market where local producers can sell their goods, and possibly a community meeting center. Nothing will be decided, however, until local residents are allowed to give their input on the plan. “There will be a lot of community engagement,” said Fahe representative Aaron Phelps. “There won’t be something coming into the neighborhood that people don’t want.”…

June 27, 2017

Clean up nearly done, but repairs remain at steam pipe explosion site

Source:, June 23, 2017
By: Jessica Anderson

The cleanup in the aftermath of Tuesday’s explosion of an underground steam pipe downtown has largely been completed, but officials said work still must be done before repairs on the system can begin.

Crews have worked since Tuesday to clean buildings and parking lots around the explosion site on Eutaw Street between Lombard and Pratt streets after initial environmental tests found low levels of asbestos, officials said.

Many of the underground pipes are insulated with asbestos, which is known to cause cancer if inhaled.

On Friday, crews still were working to thoroughly clean vehicles that had been caked in dust as the ruptured pipe vented scalding steam and blew dirt, asphalt and asbestos into the air.

“We are coordinating with state environmental officials to ensure the necessary cleaning and environmental testing is complete,” said Paul Whitmore, a spokesman for Veolia North America, which maintains the underground system, in a statement.…

June 27, 2017

Infamous Michigan chemical plant cleanup gets $9.7M from EPA

Source:, June 27, 2017
By: Garret Ellison

A major Michigan Superfund site is getting nearly $10 million from the Environmental Protection Agency this year to start cleaning up the toxic leftovers from an infamous chemical plant that made now-banned pesticides and fire retardants.

The EPA will spend $9.7 million to begin work in a polluted field along the Pine River in St. Louis where Velsicol Chemical Co. once operated a factory that manufactured DDT, among other compounds.

The money is a drop in the bucket of what’s needed to clean up the entire site, but local advocates are thrilled anyway because it’s a sign that remediation efforts are moving.

“We were looking at another construction season without much happening,” said Jane Keon, chair of the Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force. “Now, we’re looking at a lot of activity.”

The factory was demolished and buried in 1982; placed under a clay cap that did not keep the massive chemical contamination underneath from leaching through the soil and groundwater into nearby neighborhoods and the adjacent river.

Today, the 52-acre former factory site is a toxic field behind a fence. The citizen task force has been pushing the EPA to begin cleaning up the plant site for years. The town would like to reclaim the land for public use someday.

The EPA has spent money in the past cleaning up toxic sediment in the river, nearby residential soil and installing a groundwater treatment system around the site perimeter. However, this new funding represents the first actual remediation money for cleaning up the toxic plant site — the main cache of underground pollution.…

June 27, 2017

Clean-up in Avon Lake after spillage from Ford plant goes into storm sewer, Lake Erie

Source:, June 26, 2017
By: Carly Flynn Morgan

The Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency are coordinating the clean-up of a spill of up to 5,000 gallons of rust proofing material from the Ford Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake, some of which discharged into Lake Erie.

Ford Motor Company and the Avon Lake Police Department notified the Ohio EPA about the spill on Sunday. The material was mistakenly released from a 50,000 gallon storage tank at the Ohio Assembly Plant on Miller Road. The e-coat make its way through the storm sewer, some of which then went into Lake Erie from the outfall.

The EPA says the material is gray and shiny and appears to be contained to a very small area of the lake near Miller Road Park. There are no known impacts to fish or wildlife, and investigators don’t foresee any concern with drinking water.…

June 27, 2017

N.C. drinking water tainted with chemical byproduct for decades?

Source:, June 26, 2017

Some 60,000 Wilmington, N.C., residents get their drinking water from the Cape Fear River.

DuPont and its spinoff company Chemours manufacture chemicals at a plant upstream from the city.

The plant is situated on a 2,100-acre property on the Cape Fear River in Fayetteville. It is there where a chemical called GenX — a potentially cancer-causing substance that is a byproduct of DuPont and Chemours’ manufacturing processes — is produced.

Wilmington residents are demanding to know if those toxic chemicals are making their way downriver into the city’s drinking water.

The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority co-authored a three-year study on the chemical’s elevated presence in the water. But as CBS News’ Jericka Duncan reports, the findings were never made available to the general public — not even to Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo.


The Cape Fear River is the source of drinking water for Wilmington, N.C./CBS News

June 27, 2017

Condo liability law loosened

Source:, June 25, 2017
By: Brooks Johnson

A homeowners association is suing the developer, builder and manager of the Superior Vista condominiums, among others, claiming the Mesaba Avenue complex was not properly built and ought to be repaired under warranty.

“Many areas of the building were not built to applicable building code, industry standard and/or engineering specifications … all of which is allowing for excessive water intrusion, deterioration and decay,” reads the suit by the Superior Vista Homeowners Association filed in St. Louis County District Court last fall.

It’s exactly the kind of suit that some say has discouraged new condo development in recent years, and one that could become less common due to a change in state law that passed the Legislature earlier this year.

“The number of townhomes and condos being built have dramatically dropped, in part because of this legal landscape,” said David Siegel, executive director of the Builders Association of the Twin Cities. “If the liability is so great, and the costs are so great, we’re just going to stay away.”

Legislation pushed by Siegel’s group aims to slow down the liability lawsuits by requiring homeowner association membership to vote on such suits; require a maintenance record kept by the association; and mandate mediation before a suit is launched.

“We needed to put guardrails in,” Siegel said. “We don’t want to take away the ability to remedy the problems, but there are less expensive solutions that can solve the problems.”

June 27, 2017

Dakota Access builder bungling Ohio pipe

Source:, June 25, 2017
By: Catherine Traywick

Energy Transfer Partners is making a mess of its biggest project since the Dakota Access pipeline.

Construction of the $4.2 billion Rover natural gas line has caused seven industrial spills, polluted fragile Ohio wetlands and angered local farmers. The company owes $1.5 million in restitution after demolishing a historic house.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is furious and a federal energy regulator has launched a rare public investigation that threatens to delay the pipeline’s scheduled Nov. 1 completion.

“We’ve not seen a project in Ohio with spills at this size and scale, and if we can’t even trust Rover to construct this pipeline, how can we trust them to operate it when it’s complete?” said Heather Taylor-Miesle, executive director of the Ohio Environmental Council.

Energy Transfer, the Dallas-based company led by billionaire Kelcy Warren, promised part of the 713-mile pipeline would open in July, but work is stalled on key segments until the company’s responsibility for the spills can be assessed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC.

“We are working with FERC and the OEPA to resolve these issues in a manner that is satisfactory to everyone involved, and most importantly ensures the complete remediation of these areas,” said Energy Transfer spokeswoman Alexis Daniel. Recent developments have not affected the project’s timeline, Daniel said.

Any delay would pinch natural gas producers that contracted to ship on the line, which will bring resources from the Marcellus shale to the Midwest.…

June 23, 2017

Some New Haven residents concerned about asbestos removal at former English Station site

Source:, June 22, 2017
By: Luther Turmelle

Work on the environmental cleanup of the defunct English Station power plant in the city’s Fair Haven section will begin in earnest next month as remediation crews start removing bags of asbestos from the property.

The United Illuminating Co., which formerly owned the power plant and is paying for its cleanup, has hired TRC, a nationally-known environmental firm with offices in Milford, Rocky Hill and Windsor. Work on cleaning up the former power site, which is located on a 9-acre island in the middle of the Mill River, is expected to be completed by August 2019 under the terms of a consent agreement between United Illuminating and the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection.

Company officials explained their plans for the cleanup to about two-dozen city residents who live near English Station at a community meeting Thursday night.

The meeting was held at the John Martinez Elementary School, which sits in the shadow of the power plant’s smokestacks, on James Street in Fair Haven.

One of the residents who attended the meeting, Adeli DeArce, lives near the plant and told UI officials she is concerned about what the company will do to protect the health of Fair Haven residents.

“I’m the mom of an asthmatic kid, that’s why I’m here,” DeArce told Tom Judge, the UI executive overseeing the clean-up project. “I don’t know if you’re going to wrap it up and cover it up while you are doing the work. What I want to know is how you’re going to notify the community if something bad gets into the air by mistake.”…