Articles

June 28, 2017

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

Source: http://www.lexology.com, 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: http://www.courierpostonline.com, 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

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

Source: http://www.baltimoresun.com, 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: http://www.mlive.com, 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: http://www.wkyc.com, 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: http://www.cbsnews.com, 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.

nc-cape-fear-river-620.jpg

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

June 23, 2017

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

Source: http://www.nhregister.com, 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.”…

June 23, 2017

Plan in place for cleanup of former factory site in Southington

Source: http://www.myrecordjournal.com, June 22, 2017
By: Jesse Buchanan

Final soil testing is underway at the site of a former factory destroyed by fire in 2003.

The Town Council approved a $92,000 contract earlier this month with Arcadis, an environmental company, to conduct soil tests in preparation for cleanup work at the Beaton & Corbin property on North Main Street. Money for the cleanup will come from a developer, Mark Lovley, the town and a state grant.

The council also approved an agreement with the Connecticut Brownfield Land Bank, a nonprofit started two years ago to spur the cleanup of contaminated industrial sites.

Since the defunct Beaton & Corbin Inc. still holds title to the property, the land bank will help clear the title so it can be sold to a developer.

Town Attorney Mark Sciota said the land bank will start a foreclosure on the property after the town sells its tax liens to the land bank for $1. Through the foreclosure process, the land bank will extinguish all liens against the property.

Ultimately the town hopes to get the property developed. Lovley was the only developer to respond after the town put out a public request for proposals three years ago. He’s planning to build a 13,000-square-foot building on the site.…

June 21, 2017

Asbestos exposure at Austin airport facility affects 120 employees

Source: http://kxan.com, June 20, 2017
By: David Barer and Kylie McGivern

About 120 city of Austin employees were exposed to asbestos during 2016 airport office renovations, despite some workers voicing concerns that the potentially dangerous building material could cause contamination during construction, a KXAN investigation has uncovered.

The exposure happened during February and June 2016 floor renovations in Austin-Bergstrom International Airport’s Maintenance Complex Building, which is separate from the passenger terminals and not open to the public. The maintenance building contains offices and houses dozens of staff, including maintenance administrators, plumbers, carpenters, cleaners and police at the time, according to city records.

Three aviation maintenance workers, who spoke with KXAN on a condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, say the asbestos contamination may well have been avoided if their concerns were taken more seriously. Also, airport management may not have followed all recommended asbestos control procedures prior to renovating the offices.

“The people who run the airport put people in danger that they knew about, put them in hazardous areas and told them that they would be safe,” said one employee present for the February renovations. “I am concerned for everybody’s health who was in the building.”

In response to KXAN’s investigation, the city of Austin released a statement saying it is committed to the “health and safety of all employees,” and it is “continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding this incident.”

“The City of Austin and the Department of Aviation would never intentionally put its employees at risk,” according to the city’s June 16 prepared statement. “The City is committed to improving internal processes, training and communication to ensure our high standards are met for a safe working environment for all staff.”

June 19, 2017

Legionnaires’ Outbreak on Upper East Side Kills One and Sickens Six

Source: https://www.nytimes.com, June 16, 2017
By: Sarah Maslin Nir

One person is dead and six other people have been sickened in an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the city health department announced on Friday.

The patients with the bacterial infection, which is typically contracted through contaminated water, fell ill within the past 11 days in the Lenox Hill neighborhood, said the agency, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Four remain hospitalized, and two have recovered and been released. The person who died was over 90, according to the department, and suffered from other health problems. The department has begun an investigation of air-conditioning equipment in the neighborhood, looking for signs of the Legionella bacteria.

“We know that this is an organism that exists in our environment, and we don’t expect to be able to eradicate it,” said Dr. Mary T. Bassett, the health commissioner. “From a public health point of view, we want to be able to get a handle on clusters that may have a common source, but we hardly ever are able to identify them.”In the Lenox Hill outbreak, where the patients are linked by geography, chances of finding the source may be better. Inspectors have looked at all cooling systems within about half a mile of the affected area, 116 in total, Dr. Bassett said. But results of the investigation will take up to two weeks — the bacteria must be cultured in a lab, and grow slowly, she said.