Articles

May 22, 2017

Trends in Contractor’s Liability Coverage

Source: http://www.rmmagazine.com, May 1, 2017
By: David M. Slaugenhoup, New Day Underwriting Managers LLC

With an anticipated increase in construction activity stemming from the Trump administration’s proposed $1 trillion infrastructure spending plan and the continued focus on jobsite safety from agencies and law enforcement, contractor’s professional liability (CPrL) policies are receiving greater attention. These policies cover damages arising out of acts, errors and omissions from professional services performed by or on behalf of a construction firm, including a general contractor, design-builder, construction manager (at-risk or agency) or specialty subcontractor.

In addition to third-party liability, some CPrL programs now even offer first-party coverage, such as “protective” coverage or rectification coverage for mitigation of damages. Protective coverage indemnifies the named insured for costs incurred—in excess of the design professional’s professional liability insurance—as a result of negligent acts, errors and omissions committed by design professionals under contract with the named insured.

The contractor’s professional liability market has grown to a capacity of $300 million in the United States and continues to expand as an increasing number of carriers are offering CPrL terms. Contractual obligations remain the major driver for purchasing both practice and project programs. For the larger firms, however, asset protection is an even bigger factor. The number of entities requiring project CPrL or project-dedicated limits from the construction professional continues to rise. Although owners believed $1 million was adequate a few years ago, they are now requiring $2 million, $5 million or more. For larger projects (more than $500 million in construction value), $25 million seems to be standard.…

May 18, 2017

Gary airport sues for $2.5M cleanup

Source: https://chicagocrusader.com, May 18, 2017

The Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority has filed a lawsuit against New Jersey-based Honeywell International Inc., seeking $2.5 million for an environmental cleanup near airport property.

The lawsuit accuses Honeywell and its subsidiaries, including Universal Oil Products, of sending significant amounts of hazardous wastes that wound up near the airport property. Airport Authority officials said the waste, consisting of petroleum and volatile organic compounds, was dumped on the site when land adjacent to the airport property was owned and operated several decades ago by the Conservation Chemical Co. of Illinois.

According to the lawsuit, between 1985 and 2014, investigations by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management found that hazardous materials seeped onto the airport’s property, into a nearby ditch, then into the Grand Calumet River. The complaint also says EPA officials issued a “removal action” between 1985 and 1989 to try to get Honeywell to clean up the site.

Honeywell officials declined to comment on the lawsuit or how their company used the site for disposal all those years ago.

The lawsuit says that back in 1998, Honeywell was listed among a group of potentially responsible parties that agreed to remediate a portion of the site of soil and groundwater contamination.

That remediation was limited to the actual site and did not include any airport property south of the site or in an adjacent ditch, which runs about 5,700 feet from the old Conservation Chemical Co., site to where it discharges into the Grand Calumet River.

In recent years, pollutants were discovered when airport officials began the work for the expansion of the airport’s primary runway.

Airport officials said $500,000 of airport funds has already been spent cleaning up the mess. In a lawsuit filed back in March in the U.S. District Court in Hammond, airport officials said an additional $2 million will need to be spent to fully resolve the situation.

According to one news report, airport authority officials have discussed the lawsuit privately with the airport’s governing board, seeking to ratify a lawsuit case number so the legal action could proceed in the courts.

The board, however, was unable to do so on Monday due to a lack of a quorum. Attorney Michael Tolbert said the board’s action may take place at a special meeting that may be held next week.…

May 18, 2017

Exide sues Frisco over delays in cleanup of contaminated land; city denies wrongdoing

Source: Dallas Morning News, May 16, 2017
Posted on: http://www.advisen.com

Nearly five years after shuttering its plant here that emitted too much lead, Exide Technologies has sued the city, claiming that its actions are thwarting the company’s cleanup efforts.

The suit contradicts Frisco’s claims over the years that Exide has continually tried to cut corners to save money. Without the proper cleanup, the city has stated, re-contamination of the nearby land is a “distinct possibility.”

On Monday, the city of Frisco issued a statement denying the allegations in the suit, which was filed in federal court in Sherman last week. Exide’s attorney declined to comment.

In 2012, Exide and Frisco reached an agreement that spelled out terms for the plant’s closure and cleanup. At the time, the company had 130 employees and recycled about 6 million used automotive and industrial batteries a year with a secondary lead smelter.

The deal called for Exide to retain the 90 acres it used for operations. Frisco, in turn, would pay $45 million to purchase about 180 acres that Exide had used as a buffer to those operations. The money comes from the Frisco Economic Development Corp. and the Frisco Community Development Corp., which would use the land for future projects or sell it.

In a schedule posted three years ago, Exide showed the work in Frisco being completed in stages with final approvals in hand by this fall. But the closure and cleanup have taken much longer than anticipated. Some of that delay was due to all the work needed to identify the contamination, which had spread beyond the plant’s boundaries. Exide’s bankruptcy filing in 2013 also slowed down the process. But a lot of issues stem from disagreements between Exide and the city over what needs to be done.…

May 17, 2017

Attorney: 3M ‘biggest corporate villain in Tennessee Valley’

Source: Decatur Daily (AL), May 12, 2017
Posted on: http://www.advisen.com

With a $5 million settlement from one local company approved in federal court, attorneys for rural water customers impacted by chemical contamination on the Tennessee River are preparing for a legal battle with industrial giant 3M Co.

“We can now, on behalf of everyone harmed by these chemicals, take dead aim at the biggest corporate villain in the Tennessee Valley, 3M, and work aggressively to hold them accountable,” said Decatur attorney Carl Cole.

His statement came less than an hour after a federal judge approved a $5 million payment Wednesday for Daikin America Inc. to settle its portion of the lawsuit brought on behalf of the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority and its customers.

The settlement provides $3.9 million for the water authority to pay for a temporary filtration system to remove the industrial chemicals perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanic acid (PFOA) and related industrial chemicals from its water.

It also provides $450,000 in water-bill credits to reimburse the more than 10,000 customers who paid water bills during a no-drink warning last year, when PFOS and PFOA levels exceeded recommended levels in an Environmental Protection Agency health advisory.

Another $550,000 will go to the three law firms representing the water authority and its customers — The Cole Law Firm in Decatur, the Fiedman, Dazzio, Zulanas and Bowling Law Firm in Birmingham and the Davis and Whitlock Environmental Law Firm in Asheville, North Carolina.…

May 16, 2017

Texas Supreme Court says landowners can sue over oil and gas contamination

Source: http://fuelfix.com, May 15, 2017
By: Ryan Handy

The Texas Supreme Court ruled late last month that the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state’s oil and gas regulator, does not have exclusive jurisdiction over environmental contamination cases, which can be settled in court.

The decision came from a years’ long dispute between a rancher, Jimmy McAllen, and the Denver-based Forest Oil, which McAllen accused of polluting his property and exposing him to radiation. Forest Oil, now a part of the Houston-based Sabine Oil and Gas Corp., argued that McAllen couldn’t sue the company and seek millions in damages through the court system because only the Railroad Commission has jurisdiction over contamination cases. Forest Oil objected to paying damages in addition to being forced to clean up McAllen’s property.

But on April 28, the Supreme Court issued a ruling affirming the previous decision of an appeals court: McAllen had every right to sue, the court said, and that the law did not intend for the Railroad Commission to be a property owner’s sole recourse in pollution case.

“While the Railroad Commission may make determinations with respect to McAllen’s 27 contamination claims — indeed, it has already done so — it cannot thereby oust the court of jurisdiction to decide those claims or refer the decision to arbitration,” the court said.…

May 16, 2017

Camden considers new project to mitigate 2014 Hosmer Pond contamination

Source: http://www.penbaypilot.com, May 15, 2017
By: Lynda Clancy

Almost three years ago, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection issued a violation notice to Camden for severely disturbing soil on Ragged Mountain, and the resulting sedimentary contamination of Hosmer Brook and Pond. Contractor crews remediated the erosion during Summer 2014, but the town faced an enforcement action, including a monetary fine. Since February, Town Attorney Bill Kelly has been talking with the DEP about a consent agreement, and/or a mitigation project.

Little has been said publicly about the proposed project, although there have been references to Hosmer Pond improvements as part of such a mitigation effort. Likewise, the draft consent agreement has yet to be publicly discussed, while it remains under negotiation. That is per agency policy, according to DEP spokesman Dave Madore.

But on May 16, at least some portion of the mitigation project is to be discussed as the first order of business at the regularly scheduled Camden Select Board meeting.

The agenda item says:

1) Hosmer Pond Boat Launch/DEP Project
a. Bid Award b. Approval of withdrawal funds from restricted funds for ADA dock.…

May 16, 2017

Owner of old Louisville pesticide plant prepares to sell

Source: http://www.sunherald.com, May 13, 2017
By: James Bruggers

Metal roofing has collapsed.

Trees are growing tall inside buildings. Walls are heavily tagged with graffiti.

And trespassers have set up makeshift camping or lounge areas among the arsenic and long-banned pesticides, having hauled in several couches in recent months – one of them with two small toy dolls left on the cushions.

It’s now about seven years into what Kentucky officials have called their largest urban environmental cleanup, and property owner Tony Young, on a rare tour of what he calls the Louisville Industrial Park, says: “I need to speak my piece. If I don’t do it now, I won’t have any chance.”

The 29-acre property, known by regulators as the Black Leaf site for a tobacco-based pesticide once made there, is scheduled for a foreclosure sale on Friday.

After long-banned pesticides like DDT and other dangerous chemicals or heavy metals were found in the soil, Young said he became unable to pay the $20,000 monthly mortgage he owed to First Capital Bank of Kentucky. He also owes the city nearly $1 million in back property taxes and the Metropolitan Sewer District $200,000 for several years of unpaid drainage fees. But as Young this week faces the loss of the property he’s owned since 1999, he is taking steps to recover financially while he promotes his plan to develop affordable housing for western Louisville.

Young last week sued his bank, a bank holding company, and ExxonMobil, claiming in a U.S. District Court filing that businesses have entered into “a secret deal” that cut him out and could cost him more than $20 million. He said he believes a new business cooperating with the bank and ExxonMobil intend to buy the property in a process that will wipe away the liabilities for the new owner and will allow ExxonMobil’s plan to proceed.

But that plan, he contends, would require a lesser degree of cleanup than his, which would need to meet more stringent standards for residential development.…

May 16, 2017

Pollution threat: Site lease terminated near Goble

Source: https://www.thechiefnews.com, May 15, 2017
By: Cody Mann

Owners evicted, nearly 3,000 gallons of oily water removed from barge

The Coast Guard oversaw the removal of nearly 3,000 gallons of oily water from the bilges of a 1940s-era crane barge this past weekend near Goble. Two men leasing the site from the Oregon Department of State Lands for business purposes were evicted and given until the end of May to remove their property.

A statement from Coast Guard said the removal of oily water from the Amazon, a 170-foot crane barge, was a preemptive measure taken to prevent possible environmental damage to the Columbia River. A Captain of the Port Order was issued to the vessel in March of 2017. There are also safety concerns regarding exposed asbestos on board.

The site has grown to be a concern for the Coast Guard and multiple agencies from the State of Oregon because of the environmental impact vessels and other materials at the site have or could have to the sensitive Columbia River ecosystem.

Representatives from the Coast Guard Pacific Strike Team, Coast Guard Marine Environmental Detachment Portland, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Oregon National Response Corporation conducted a site assessment and hazard categorization at the submerged land lease site during May 9-10.

Personnel from the Coast Guard’s Columbia River Incident Management Division opened the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to remove the oily water upon a recommendation from the Coast Guard Pacific Strike Team.

National Response Coordination Environmental Services contractors pumped out 1,800 gallons of the oily-water mixture this past Friday, and another 1,100 gallons on Saturday, from bilges, ballast tanks, fuel tanks, aft and forward spaces, and above and below deck plates.

May 16, 2017

Nevada cement plan fined $500K for Clean Air Act violations

Read here about a NV company fine over $500,000 for Clean Air Act violations.…

May 16, 2017

Suit blames well contamination on Dominion’s coal ash ponds

Source: Richmond TImes-Dispatch, May 15, 2017
Posted on: http://www.advisen.com

A pair of Dumfries homeowners have filed suits seeking millions in damages from Dominion Energy, claiming heavy metals seeping from coal ash ponds at the Possum Point Power Station contaminated their drinking water wells.

The power station’s coal ash ponds, where the remnants of burnt coal were kept, are the scene of a clash among the utility, residents, and state and local officials over the company’s closure plans.

The lawsuits – filed on behalf of Daniel Marrow and his family and Brian West, both of whom own homes on Possum Point Road near the power station – allege that concentrations of hexavalent chromium, lead, boron, cobalt and other metals found in their wells came from the nearby power plant, which burned coal until 2003.

“The defendant knew or should have known that placing multiple unlined coal ash ponds near a residential community that relied on well water would cause groundwater contamination that would then contaminate the nearby properties and potable wells,” the suits say.

Marrow’s suit claims damages of $6 million while West’s claims $3 million.

The Virginia Beach lawyer who filed both suits, Mark J. Favaloro, referred a reporter to Annapolis, Md., attorney Roy Mason, who could not be reached Friday.

“Dominion is aware that the lawsuit has been filed in Prince William County,” company spokesman Robert Richardson said. “However, the company has not been formally served and does not have any further comment at this time.”

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