November 20, 2017

SC students say they lived in mold-infested dorms. Now, they’re suing their college

Source: State (Columbia, SC), November 19, 2017
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Morris College faces a $55 million lawsuit from a group of students over a mold infestation in campus dorms, according to multiple news reports.

The suit was filed this week by five current and former students — Teanna Caswell, Maya Robinson, Kiesha Robinson, Myrcle Fleming and Kianna Joint, The Sumter Item reported.

The plaintiffs say toxic mold is so severe that some students have been hospitalized and some have had to drop out of school for health reasons, WACH reported.

The plaintiffs are seeking $55 million in damages from the school, according to The Sumter Item.

Morris, a private, historically black college in Sumter, has five residential buildings on campus, according to WACH.

Students from two residence halls have been relocated due to mold, WACH reported.

The lawsuit claims that unsafe living conditions, including mold and other problems, were reported to the school’s administration four years ago but have gone unresolved, WACH reported.

Last month, several dozen students rallied at a local park to express their frustration over the campus mold problems, WLTX reported. They complained of mold beyond dorms: in the cafeteria, in hallways and in showers, according to WLTX.

At the time of the October student demonstration, the school’s interim president, Leroy Staggers, said the residence hall mold had only recently been reported to administration and that there were no documented complaints of mold in other areas of campus, WLTX reported.…

November 20, 2017

Keystone Pipeline Leaks 210K Gallons of Oil in South Dakota

Source:, November 16, 2017
Associated Press

TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone pipeline leaked an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil onto agricultural land in northeastern South Dakota , the company and state regulators said Thursday, but state officials don’t believe the leak polluted any surface water bodies or drinking water systems.

Crews shut down the pipeline Thursday morning and activated emergency response procedures after a drop in pressure was detected resulting from the leak south of a pump station in Marshall County , TransCanada said in a statement. The cause was being investigated.

Discovery of the leak comes just days before Nebraska regulators are scheduled to announce their decision Monday whether to approve the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, an expansion that would boost the amount of oil TransCanada is now shipping through an existing line known simply as Keystone. The expansion has faced fierce opposition from environmental groups, American Indian tribes and some landowners.

Brian Walsh , an environmental scientist manager at the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources , said the state has sent a staff member to the site of the leak in a rural area near the border with North Dakota about 250 miles (402 kilometers) west of Minneapolis .…

November 16, 2017

U.S. Steel dumps more toxic chromium near Lake Michigan, faces lawsuit

Source: Chicago Tribune, November 15, 2017
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Six months after U.S. Steel dumped a plume of toxic metal into a Lake Michigan tributary, the company quietly reported another spill at the same northwest Indiana plant and asked state environmental regulators to keep it secret, according to newly released documents.

The 56.7 pounds of chromium released in late October by the company’s Midwest Plant was 89 percent higher than its water pollution permit allows over 24 hours, U.S. Steel revealed in a letter sent to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

A wastewater treatment system at the plant malfunctioned on the morning of Oct. 25, a problem that wasn’t noticed until the next day. Indiana officials were notified Oct. 27, according to the company’s letter, which is dated Oct. 31 and requested “confidential treatment” of the incident.

Law students at the University of Chicago discovered the letter while tracking pollution violations at U.S. Steel and other factories on the southwest shore of Lake Michigan. The document tops a stack of evidence gathered by attorneys at the university’s Abrams Environmental Law Clinic for a lawsuit they are preparing that will accuse the Pittsburgh-based steel giant of repeatedly violating the federal Clean Water Act since 2011.…

November 13, 2017

Toxic solvent from dry-cleaners found in Memphis Sand aquifer

Source:, November 12, 2017
By: Tom Charlier

Investigators at a Memphis hazardous waste site discovered “elevated levels” of a toxic dry-cleaning solvent in the aquifer supplying the city with drinking water, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spokesman said.

The chemical – tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene, or simply “perc” – was found 150 feet below ground in the Memphis Sand aquifer at the former Custom Cleaners site at 3517 Southern, near the University of Memphis campus, agency spokesman Jason McDonald said in an email.

A strata of saturated sand and gravel that’s 500 feet thick in many places, the Memphis Sand is an aquifer supplying Memphis and other local municipalities and industries with water renowned for its purity.…

November 13, 2017

Michigan maker of Hush Puppies called on its toxic past

Source:, November 11, 2017
By: Ted Roelofs

With the click of an email, the credibility of an iconic Michigan shoe company’s environmental practices has taken another hit.

Rockford-based Wolverine Worldwide Inc., best known for its Hush Puppies shoes, has been on the defensive this year over toxic chemicals that seeped from one of its former dumping sites into the drinking water in northern Kent County. The state has identified at least six other dump sites and says there may be as many as 15 more, sites Wolverine did not apparently test for groundwater contamination until April of this year.

In August, as residents near the site wondered whether the chemicals might be tied to cancer clusters and other health problems, the company put out a statement insisting it did not know until 2016 that waste from its former Rockford tannery carried hazardous chemicals, including a class of compounds known as perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS.

But that effort at corporate spin appears to have backfired.Late last week, a lawyer for St. Paul, Minn.-based 3M Co., which supplied the waterproofing material containing PFOS in Hush Puppies, disputed Wolverine’s suggestion that it had been left in the dark about PFOS and its dangers all these years.…

November 10, 2017

Missouri Supreme Court rules in favor of insurer on ‘pollution exclusion’ in Peru mine claims

Source:, November 10, 2017
By: Sam Knef

The Missouri Supreme Court has sided with an insurer that appealed a judgment entered by a St. Louis County judge over pollution claims at a smelting facility in Peru that is owned by a company it covers.

In a unanimous opinion filed Oct. 31, the high court reversed St. Louis County Circuit Judge Thomas J. Prebil’s summary judgment in favor of Missouri-based Doe Run Resources Co., which had sued St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Co. for reimbursement of defense costs.

Doe Run had faced a class action on behalf of plaintiffs who claimed injury from toxic pollution released from its metallurgical industrial complex in La Oroya, Peru, the opinion states. Doe Run produces lead and lead concentrate through its mining, milling and smelting operations.…

November 10, 2017

Carteret reaches $7.4M settlement with former smelter operator

Source:, November 9, 2017
By: Luke Nozicka

The borough has reached a more than $7 million settlement with the owner of an old metals-refining factory to complete its cleanup of contaminated areas at its former smelter site.

The settlement requires U.S. Metals Refining Company to pay $4.25 million to end further litigation and to fund environmental and public health initiatives in the borough, Mayor Daniel Reiman said. The company will also pay an additional $3.15 million during the next 10 years.

U.S. Metals is the former operator of a smelter plant at 300 Middlesex Ave. that shut down more than 30 years ago. It operated in the borough from 1903 to 1986.

The company, a subsidiary of Freeport-McMoRan, first entered a consent order to clean the site with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection in 1988.

But there was no plan to address potential contamination in hundreds of public and private areas, including the yards of residential homes, that may have migrated off-site, the mayor said. So the borough in 2012 reached an agreement with the company to investigate and clean possible off-site contamination.…

November 3, 2017

How Do You Find the Right Project Coverage?

Source:, October 26, 2017
By: Jeffery M. Slivka & Bill Webb, New Day Underwriting Managers LLC

4 alternatives for securing against construction project professional liability

No matter whether it is designed to protect owners, architects, engineers or general contractors, the securing of project professional liability coverage can be complicated. Professional liability exposure exists for the construction period plus the applicable Statute of Repose, often meaning a total of 10 or more years. Ensuring compliance and affordability over an extended period is difficult. Unfortunately, over the past few years this process has become even more difficult, especially for applications surrounding the design and construction of commercial condominiums and other “habitational” projects.

The math is simple. The increased number of catastrophic professional liability claims, coupled with inadequate rates, have resulted in today’s tight market and the poor underwriting profits of the project professional liability insurance marketplace. Subsequently, various alternatives were developed to confront the problem. Some have been practiced for years, while others consist of fairly new insurance products that are still not understood by many in the industry. Although variations exist, these alternatives are available to protect various entities from professional liability on construction projects. Ordered by cost, rather than the degree of protection, each provides benefits based on the specific risk appetites of individual owners, design professionals, design builders and/or contractors.

October 31, 2017

EPA cleanup of Pillsbury site nearly complete; lawsuits pending

Source:, October 30, 2017
By: Tim Landis

The nine-month, $1.8 million cleanup at the former Pillsbury Mills plant in Springfield — including tons of asbestos-contaminated debris — should be completed this week with removal of barrels containing waste oil and other chemicals.

Federal and state court cases, meanwhile, are pending against the site owners.

“We’re getting rid of the final containers of used oil and various containers of other materials stockpiled on the site,” Kevin Turner, site cleanup coordinator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Monday.

Turner said crews are scheduled to complete the removal Wednesday. Since the cleanup began in February, crews in hazardous-material suits have removed 2,200 tons of asbestos-contaminated debris, 1,160 cubic yards of bulk asbestos and approximately 3,700 mercury-contaminated light bulbs. The asbestos, primarily from boiler and pipe insulation, has been taken to landfills.…

October 26, 2017

Ninth Circuit Requires US To Pay Defense Contractor Cleanup Costs

Source:, October 23, 2017
By: Rachel Jacobson and Nathaniel Custer, WilmerHale

On October 4, the Ninth Circuit reversed the District Court for the Southern District of California’s decision to allocate to a government contractor 100 percent of cleanup costs for hazardous contamination at a manufacturing facility for failure to consider the involvement of the United States in contributing to that contamination, and remanded the case for additional proceedings.1 The Court based its decision largely on existing doctrine in the Ninth Circuit, and the holding provides further support for government contractors, particularly those that contributed to the war effort in the 1940s, seeking contribution from the United States for cleanup costs incurred under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

TDY Holdings, LLC, and TDY Industries, LLC (collectively, TDY), along with a predecessor, operated a manufacturing plant near the San Diego airport for 60 years, beginning in 1939. During the 1940s, TDY built aircraft and aircraft parts primarily to support the war effort. At the height of the war, 99 percent of TDY’s work at the facility was in the service of government contracts. Operations at the site involved the use of hazardous substances—chromium compounds, chlorinated solvents, and polychlorinated biphenyls—and resulted in contamination, necessitating cleanup and remediation. After a 2007 settlement of CERCLA liability, TDY sought contribution from the United States.…