Sheryl Barr

August 9, 2017

Town files civil suit against Burchfield building’s architects, engineers

Source:, August 7, 2017
By: Ali Ingersoll

The Town of West Seneca is moving forward, filing a civil lawsuit against the Burchfield designers — Louis Design Group and Nussbaumer & Clarke, inc. The town taking legal action after a consultant came in, looking at the Burchfield Nature and Art Center, determining a man made error and design flaw is the cause behind the site being structurally unsound.

“It is a design and engineering problem,” said Eugene Hart, one of the town council members.

Taxpayer dollars covered most of the construction costs for the center and that’s why the town is moving forward with the lawsuit seeking between $800,000 and $1.7 million in financial compensation.

The Burchfield building is only 16 years old; already, though, areas in the structure are giving way, deteriorating, and starting to bend and buckle.

“It shouldn’t be happpening to something that new,” said Ken Pearl, an architect the town is consulting with to analyze the state of the site.

Pearl points out issues in the design, showing the original blueprints where the engineers and architects expected the ground to be about 2 feet below where it actually is. Pearl says those who constructed the building probably faced some difficulties looking but feels they just brought things to code, never actually altering the design details.…

August 8, 2017

Fuel company cited for October gas leak in southwest Roanoke

Source:, August 7, 2017
By: Laurence Hammack

State regulators have cited a fuel distributor for an underground gas leak at a Grandin Road convenience store that caused the evacuation of about 15 homes in October.

Conny Oil Inc. of Roanoke will pay a fine of $19,425 as part of an agreement with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

The company owns and operates underground gas storage tanks at the Grandin Road BP, which was determined to be the source of a leak Oct. 8, according to a recent consent order posted to DEQ’s website.

Roanoke officials learned of the spill after residents reported smelling gas vapors in their homes and in the storm water sewer system.

As part of an emergency response that lasted about 12 hours, homes and at least one business near Grandin Road and Guilford Avenue were evacuated, power to the neighborhood was shut off and several streets were closed while crews worked to flush and vent the system.

DEQ officials estimated that less than 100 gallons of gas was released.

According to an investigation by the agency, gauges on one of the underground storage tanks indicated problems dating back to May 2016 — with “WARN” and “FAIL” status reports and no indication that Conny Oil officials took steps to investigate a possible leak, the consent order stated.

Officials from Conny Oil could not be reached Monday.

But the company accepted responsibility in the agreement with DEQ. In addition to paying the fine and working to clean up the damage, the company has decided to close the underground storage tank “after much investigation and cost,” the consent order stated.

August 8, 2017

High manganese levels lead EPA to crack down on Southeast Side polluter

Source:, August 8, 2017
By: Michael Hawthorne

Federal environmental regulators are cracking down on a Southeast Side company after finding high levels of brain-damaging manganese in a low-income, predominantly Latino neighborhood.

Air quality monitors posted around the S.H. Bell Co. storage terminal recorded violations of federal health standards during nearly 40 percent of the days when samples were collected between March and June, according to data posted online Monday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Average concentrations of the heavy metal exceeded the legal limit of 0.3 micrograms per cubic meter of air during the period and spiked up to four times higher, prompting the EPA to cite S.H. Bell with violations of the federal Clean Air Act.

The alarming findings come three years after investigators stumbled across S.H. Bell while taking a closer look at two nearby sites that stored dusty piles of petroleum coke along the Calumet River.

Monitors at one of the sites owned by KCBX Terminals picked up high levels of manganese on days when winds blew across the river from the vicinity of S.H. Bell’s facility between 101st and 103rd streets. After S.H. Bell repeatedly ignored federal and city orders to install additional monitors, a court-ordered legal settlement required the equipment to be up and running by March.…

August 8, 2017

Legionnaires’ disease cases spike 143% in Michigan

Source: Detroit Free Press, August 5, 2017
Posted on:

Health officials across the state are trying to determine what’s causing a 143% increase in cases of Legionnaires’ disease, a respiratory infection that can be deadly, especially for people with weak immune systems.

“In the warm months, there is an increase in Legionnaires’,” said Jennifer Eisner of the Michigan Department of Community Health. “At this point, no common source has been identified.”

In June and July, 73 cases were confirmed. In the past three years, the average number of cases during those months was 30.

Eisner said state health officials are working with counties to try to address the problem.

The disease is caused by the Legionella bacteria that is typically transmitted in water vapor. Symptoms include fever, cough and pneumonia. Eisner said the state also has seen cases of Pontiac fever, a similar, though milder, infection that doesn’t include pneumonia and resolves on its own.

Legionella bacteria are found naturally in freshwater lakes and streams, but can also be found in man-made water systems.…

August 8, 2017

DuPont to Settle Environmental Lawsuits for Millions

Read here about almost $400 million in environmental lawsuits that DuPont has agreed to settle.…

August 7, 2017

Exide Cleanup Under Fire for Leaving Homes With Contamination

A state agency says their plan meets federal standards

Young children play in the back yard under the shade of an avocado tree. The kids dig holes while their grandfather makes homemade guacamole. It’s a scene that’s played out at the Mariz family home in Maywood for years.

But no more.

“They found lead throughout my front yard but not as bad as the backyard. The backyard is worse,” said Reynaldo Mariz.

Lead levels are so high that state officials have told Mariz to stay out of his backyard until it’s cleaned. But until recently, his grand kids played in the contaminated dirt all the time.

“What’s going to happen to the kids after they go through that?” wonders Mariz.

Angelo Bellomo, deputy director for health protection for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, says children exposed to lead are at serious risk for long-term health issues.

“It effects brain development. It can cause developmental disabilities, in lower levels, over prolonged periods of time. It could decrease the learning capacity of individuals. So the impacts of lead, even at low levels can be devastating to communities,” said Bellomo.…

August 7, 2017

Contaminated soil being removed from Franklin property

Source:, August 6, 2017
By: Annie Goeller

In the coming months, crews will begin removing truckloads of soil from a downtown Franklin property, with the goal of cleaning up contamination left behind by a former manufactured gas plant.

Duke Energy is doing the work, which will be similar to another remediation project on Home Avenue and in Province Park in Franklin in 2012.

The property, located in the 200 block of West Jefferson Street, used to be a natural gas plant from 1900 to about 1930. Crews will do soil excavation on the former plant property to remove the contents of the former gas holder, a former tar well and surrounding contaminated soils, according to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, which oversees the work.

Duke Energy proposed the plan to remove the contaminated soil in 2015, but the project was pushed back due to construction on Jefferson Street, since the work will require several dump trucks to be coming in and out of the property removing soil, spokesman Lew Middleton said.

The plan is to start work soon, though no timeline is available yet, he said. The project is expected to take about 60 days but could take longer if tests show more contamination, he said.…

August 2, 2017

Negligence Claim Proves Designers Can Be Held Directly Liable to Subcontractors

Source:, July 27, 2017
By: Gina M. Vitiello

Is it reasonable for a subcontractor bidding on a design-build project to assume that the designer has followed the owner’s requirements in preparing the preliminary design documents? The answer is yes, according to a recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which affirmed a jury verdict from the District Court. The ruling was in favor of two paving subcontractors against the project engineer, Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc.

The case involved a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers roadway project at Fort Benning, Ga., which included the widening of an existing road and the construction of a new road to accommodate the weight of military “Heavy Equipment Transport” vehicles (HETs) used to transport Army tanks. In addition to providing design information about the HETs in the request for proposal, the Corps gave specific instructions to bidders to “assume 10 HETs per day” for bidding purposes.

Jacobs teamed up with design-build contractor Sauer, Inc. to submit a proposal containing a preliminary design of 4.5 inch thick pavement. Jacobs instructed subcontractors bidding on the roadwork to assume 4.5 inches of pavement throughout the project for pricing purposes.

Jacobs acknowledged that it was aware of the Corps’ pre-bid instructions to assume 10 HETs per day for bidding purposes when it prepared its preliminary design. However, Jacobs’ project manager testified at trial that he ignored the HET requirement when designing the pavement thickness. Instead, he simply used the pavement thickness of a prior roadway project at the Army base, which did not include any HET requirements. The project manager explained that he thought the requirement was “odd” and “imaginary,” so he disregarded it in calculating the pavement thickness at 4.5 inches.…

August 2, 2017

Overcoming America’s Infrastructure Problems with Public Private Partnerships

Source:, July 27, 2017
By: Jeff Slivka, New Day Underwriting Managers LLC

shutterstock_312440498smallIt’s no secret. America’s infrastructure is in a deep state of disrepair. Using a simple A to F ranking system, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) rated the nation’s overall infrastructure as a D+ in its recently released 2017 Infrastructure Report Card.

This assessment is based on the general failure to invest properly in repairs and upgrades over decades.

Across the nation, states are constantly battling to make the necessary fixes, while working to meet the needs of an expanding population. According to the ASCE, nearly 10 percent of the nation’s 614,387 bridges were deemed structurally deficient in 2016. The estimated rehabilitation cost is $123 billion.

The Trump administration has begun the push for a $1 trillion infrastructure plan that includes overhauling roads and bridges nationwide. The problem is that this is less than 25 percent of the $4.59 trillion needed to correct the problems as estimated by the ASCE.

However, as a financial stopgap for cash-strapped municipalities, Trump has also actively advocated the use of public-private partnerships (P3s). While the model can vary depending on the project, P3 transactions typically involve teams of builders, designers and private equity lenders working as a cooperative to build new facilities and structures or upgrade outdated ones. In lieu of the short-term enumeration, the private investors would then receive payment in the form of rights-of-ownership, mutually agreed upon fees or rent from facility occupants and possibly even payment for maintenance or related services. Depending on the contract terms, such arrangements can last for years or even decades.

In 2013, an AIG report titled “The United States: The World’s Largest Emerging P3 Market” predicted that the U.S. was “poised to become the largest public-private partnership (P3) market in the world for infrastructure projects.” This is due to the inability of federal, state and local governments to “finance new projects on their own due to decreased tax revenue and shrinking budgets.” To facilitate P3 project funding nationwide, the Department of Transportation even opened the Build America Transportation Investment Center in 2014 as a “one stop shop for state and local governments, public and private developers and investors seeking to utilize innovative financing and P3s to deliver transportation projects.”

As a result, successful examples of P3 projects can be found nationwide. P3s have been instrumental in the building of more than 30 school buildings in Virginia, the hemisphere’s largest seawater desalination plant in California, the repair of over 500 bridges in Pennsylvania and a recently completed 22.8-mile rail spur running from Denver International Airport to the city’s downtown district.

But, despite the benefits, many complexities exist. In addition to varying legislation from state to state, P3 partnerships are commonly comprised of dozens of stakeholders ranging from government officials and public entities to private investors, developers, designers and construction firms, many of whom are negotiating for their own self interests. In most cases, the public sector is actively vying to save money, while everyone else is looking to turn a profit.

Hesitancy, anxiety and distrust often surround P3 agreements due to the complicated agreement terms and general unfamiliarity with P3 contracts that still exists in this country.…

August 1, 2017

EPA designates former dry cleaner as ‘Superfund’ site

Source:, July 31, 2017
By: Mike Suriani

The Environmental Protection Agency just announced that the site of the former Custom Cleaners on Southern is officially a “Superfund” site.

They say it’s contaminated with a chemical commonly called PCE. Dry cleaners use it to clean clothes. Some doctors say this chemical causes cancer, organ failure and other health issues.

The state and EPA have also expressed concerns about possible well-water contamination.

That news doesn’t sit well with people in the area.

“We were concerned for sure. Because the water here in Memphis is a great asset, as everybody knows. And we don’t want anything to happen to the water.”

Joe Remmers is in the rug cleaning and repair business. His shop on Minor Street is a stone’s throw from the latest EPA Superfund site, a site linked to the solvent perchloroethylene, or PCE.

Monday, crews were taking more soil samples on the property at 3517 Southern Ave., where Custom Cleaners operated from 1950 until the mid-1990s. Tests conducted by the State of Tennessee and the EPA showed elevated levels of PCE have “impacted subsurface soil and groundwater.”…