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 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 9, 2017

DEP keeping eyes on oil tank spill cleanup at Pennwood Crossing in Falls

Source:, August 8, 2017
By: Thomas Friestad

Two weeks after a 75-gallon spill of home heating oil at the Pennwood Crossing mobile home community in Falls, contractors have not yet begun to clean up the contaminated soil.

The community’s managers did, though, place and later remove kitty litter-esque chemical absorbent to soak up the oil around a resident’s property where the spill occurred. The spill was caused when an underground storage tank was punctured while being pulling from the ground with an excavator, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

The agency was notified of the July 24 spill by a resident; it sent geologic specialist Dana Kutz to the site two days later.

While there, Kutz found that other oil tanks were being stored directly on soil with “sludge” still inside, including an uncovered 55-gallon drum filled halfway with oil, as well as with dirt “(smelling) of petroleum products” being used to fill the holes left behind, she wrote in a report to her department.

The punctured and stored tanks are among the approximately 900 that Pennwood Crossing is removing, Kutz wrote. The underground tanks are being replaced with above-ground ones behind residents’ mobile homes.…

August 9, 2017

130 homeowners to sue Ford over chemical pollution near Michigan plant

Source:, August 9, 2017
By: Ben Solis

Ford Motor Company and its Livonia Transmission Plant are facing a second lawsuit regarding a chemical plume that has allegedly polluted groundwater, soil and created chemical vapors near homes in the city’s Alden Village neighborhood.

A group of 130 homeowners is planning to file suit in Wayne County Circuit Court on Wednesday morning. They hope to force Ford to clean up the area and pay restitution to residents and businesses affected by the pollution.

It would be the second suit filed against the Dearborn automaker over the chemical plume – the first was raised by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in federal court and settled in July.

Court document: Michigan v. Ford Livonia plume complaint

Ford was ordered to pay $45,000 in fees to the state for chemical testing and other services. The company must also monitor the area and act accordingly if pollution beings to cause any drastic environmental or health problems in the neighborhood.

Court document: Michigan v. Ford schedule of fees

The new lawsuit will allege that ruling doesn’t go far enough.…

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

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.…