September 29, 2017

Monsanto Tried to Kill a Lawsuit Over Portland River Contamination. It Failed.

Source:, September28 , 2017
By: Dirk Vanderhart

Last year, Portland piled on to a group of West Coast cities who say a precursor of agribusiness giant Monsanto tainted their waterways. Monsanto promptly argued the city has no right to file suit. Monsanto was wrong.

Late last week, a federal judge ruled that Portland has standing to sue the company (and two others) for the polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that have found their way into the Willamette River, Columbia Slough, and other waterways. PCBs are toxic, and can cause cancer and a bevy of other nasty health effects. They’re among the central chemicals of concern in the ongoing saga of cleaning the Portland Harbor Superfund site.

Portland’s suit [PDF] says the city is going to have to spend an immense amount of money cleaning PCBs out of the Portland Harbor, and that Monsanto should bear at least a portion of that cost. The suit, and those like it, point to documents that suggest Monsanto knew PCBs posed health hazards long before that fact came to light in the 1970s.…

September 27, 2017

Developer owes $1.8M for cleanup

Source:, September 27, 2017
By: Gordon Dritschilo

A judge told a city developer Monday he was on the hook for $1.8 million for the cleanup of a former dry cleaning business.

John Ruggiero walked out of Rutland civil court owing the state Agency of Natural Resources triple damages in the $535,679 cleanup of the former Fillipo’s Dry Cleaners site on Woodstock Avenue, along with $180,443 in interest and $75,000 to cover the first five years of a 30-year monitoring program.

ANR will bill Ruggiero for the subsequent years, according to Assistant Attorney General Justin Kober.

The site is contaminated with tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene, or PCE, a carcinogen that was once widely used in dry cleaning. The chemical has been found in concentrations thousands of times the safe level for drinking water.

Ruggiero bought the property at a tax sale in 2001. He has said he expected to be able to clean it up with funding from the state’s brownfields program, but the economy changed and the cleanup proved costlier than he expected.…

September 25, 2017

Norman’s Dry Cleaning site cleanup set to wrap this fall

Source:, September 22, 2017
By: Hunter Cresswell

It’s been a decades-long process but hazardous material mitigation work at the site of an old dry cleaners in Eureka’s Henderson Center is set to wrap up this fall.

The work was necessitated by faulty hoses that started leaking hazardous cleaning chemicals into the soil beneath Norman’s Dry Cleaners over 30 years ago.

“I started the project once I knew I had issues back in 1999,” property and dry cleaning business owner Kenneth Daer said.

But according to the project report on the State Water Resources Control Board website, the contaminant of concern is gasoline.

“There was some gasoline but the majority of the contamination we were dealing with was a solvent used as part of the dry cleaning process there,” Eureka public works director Brian Gerving said.

West Environmental engineer Peter Krasnoff, a consultant on the project, said the leaked solvent is called perchloroethylene — or PCE.

“We’ve completed the electrical resistive heating to remove PCE,” he said.…

September 20, 2017

Trucking company agrees to cleanup plan for formaldehyde spill in Roanoke County

Source:, September 29, 2017
By: Laurence Hammack

More than three years after a tanker truck crash spilled toxic embalming fluid off a steep mountain road in Roanoke County, a trucking company has agreed to fix the damage that remains.

Nichols Transport Inc. will replace about a half dozen contaminated private wells with water tanks and perform other cleanup work as part of an agreement reached Sept. 12 with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

On the morning of June 11, 2014, a Nichols Transport tractor-trailer hauling embalming fluid for distribution to local funeral homes overturned on the 4200 block of Jae Valley Road (Virginia 116) near Windy Gap.

The tanker split open from the impact, sending about 4,500 gallons of its load — identified by DEQ as formaldehyde, a key ingredient in embalming fluid — down a steep slope and in the direction of nearby homes.

About 20 homes and some businesses were evacuated and the road was shut down as emergency crews dealt with noxious fumes and runoff onto and under the ground. Nearly 12 hours later, residents were allowed to return to their homes.

Tests of the water in four wells between June 1014 and March 2015 showed no signs of formaldehyde, according to a consent order posted to DEQ’s website last week.

September 19, 2017

Where Insurance Coverage Meets the Environment: Insights from 2016 and 2017

Source:, September 18, 2017
By: Martha N. Donovan

The twin sister to environmental law is insurance. The two intertwined subject matters are akin to bread and butter; one is not as good without the other. An attorney who can handle one, but not the other, is fighting with one hand tied behind her back. It behooves the environmental practitioner to be fluent in both pursuits since insurance can serve the purpose of paying a client’s cleanup bills.

As Baby Boomer practitioners, many of us have been fortunate to participate in the development of environmental and related insurance coverage law in New Jersey over the last three decades. We have seen a number of dramatic developments in both fields. Moreover, as environmental laws expanded to impose broader liability on the regulated community, the availability of liability policies to pay for those costs also expanded.

On the insurance side we have seen “regulatory estoppel” applied to prevent carriers from applying the “sudden and accidental” pollution exclusion in post-1973 policies; the wholesale rejection of the “owned property” exclusion where third-party property damage is concerned (including groundwater which belongs to the State); the adoption of a “continuous trigger of coverage” to maximize an insured’s available coverage; the rejection of the imposition of the “absolute pollution exclusion” on so-called non-traditional pollution (such as mercury poisoning at a day care facility); and the application of the preponderance of the evidence standard to prove the existence and terms of “lost” insurance policies.…

September 19, 2017

EPA to dig up contaminated soil in Lockwood superfund site

Source:, September 19, 2017
By: Matt Hudson

A large multimillion-dollar excavation project will begin this fall to remove potentially toxic chemicals from part of a 580-acre federal Superfund site in Lockwood, which was used for a chemical repackaging company and a tanker-cleaning operation.

The land sits to the north of Interstate 90.

Authorities have already worked with property owners and residents nearby to mitigate groundwater and air quality concerns. They say there is little to no risk to residents living near the area, but still the land must be cleaned before it can be used.

The Environmental Protection Agency plans to dig up about 28,000 cubic yards of land in the area, where high levels of the toxic chemicals, referred to as “contaminants,” are still found in the soil and groundwater.

Superfund cleanup sites are designated by the Environmental Protection Agency and funded by Congress. Money is set aside to clean up or remediate sites that are contaminated by toxic chemicals.

“This particular contaminant — the volatile (chemical) — binds with that clay soil,” said Roger Hoogerheide, an EPA remedial project manager for the site. “So we’re going to dig it out, excavate it, and we’re land-farming it.”

September 18, 2017

San Diego steps up containment battle as hepatitis A outbreak kills 16

Source:, September 13, 2017
By: Bianca Seidman

Private cleaning crews and public health workers are mobilized on the streets of San Diego, working to stop a hepatitis A outbreak that has claimed at least 16 lives so far.

San Diego city and county officials said they are collaborating on solutions to the aggressive outbreak –- with at least 421 known cases in San Diego county, including 292 hospitalizations and 16 deaths, since last November. They have stepped up containment plans, which now include everything from street cleaning and vaccination to distributing flyers and possible temporary housing for the California city’s homeless, who have been hard-hit by the virus.

“We must continue to work collaboratively to stop this crisis and save lives,” San Diego Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer said in a statement today.

On Monday, the city of San Diego increased its sanitation measures. The city hired a private contractor to spray the streets with a bleach and water solution to kill bacteria, began installing outdoor hand washing stations and earmarked 14 bathrooms to stay open 24 hours per day to aid the sizable homeless population, who officials say make up the majority of the outbreak’s victims.…

September 14, 2017

Harvey Stokes More Superfund Liability Risk

Source:, September 7, 2017
By: Steven M. Sellers

The severity of superstorms like Katrina, Sandy, and now Harvey has significantly raised the liability stakes for companies over the release of toxic substances from hazardous waste and chemical storage sites.

Environmental lawyers have warned for years that manufacturers can protect the environment and avoid potentially enormous litigation costs by taking steps to minimize cyclone-related chemical spills.

Those warnings make it unlikely hazardous substance releases in the Houston area, similar to prior defenses to cleanup liability related to the storms in Louisiana and New Jersey, can be excused as an unforeseen and unpreventable “Act of God,” lawyers experienced in the area tell Bloomberg BNA.

How much risk companies are expected to face from new toxic tort and hazardous waste litigation tied to Harvey is uncertain, the lawyers said.

But it no doubt will depend not only on how much contamination occurred and where the contaminants ended up, but also on the kinds and extent of storm-related protective measures put in place at contaminated and chemical sites in Houston before the hurricane hit.

“There have been two ‘Once in 500 year storms’ in the past 10 years,” said Patrick Parenteau, a professor of environmental law at Vermont Law School in Burlington, Vt. “Katrina taught us that the petrochemical infrastructure on the Gulf Coast was particularly vulnerable to storms like Harvey.”…

September 14, 2017

Lead at Cross Bayou site 31 times safe level: site report

Source:, September 14, 2017
By: Lex Talamo

It’s unclear whether the City of Shreveport will continue to buy land at the Cross Bayou project site now that the city council has killed Mayor Ollie Tyler’s bond funding proposal.

Shreveport Chief Administrative Officer Brian Crawford at a public meeting hosted Aug. 30 by the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce that the city would proceed with negotiating for the land along Cross Bayou regardless of whether the Pelicans chose Shreveport as home for a minor league affiliate.

If that remains true, the city’s continuing interest in Cross Bayou property raises another question: who would pay for the remediation of a 10-acre tract that currently has soil and groundwater contamination problems for which state regulators are demanding a clean-up plan.

Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch cited in her recent resolution urging Mayor Ollie Tyler to decline a New Orleans Pelicans team for Shreveport that concerns about environmental issues at part of the development site had been largely left out of public discussion.

Concerns about soil and groundwater contamination at the site are real — and probably time-consuming to address.…

September 13, 2017

Michigan Town The Latest To Uncover PFC Contamination

Source:, September 13, 2017
By: Peter Chawaga

PFC.RegAnother community appears to be struggling with a drinking water contaminant that continues to plague treatment facilities around the country.

Belmont, MI, is the latest town to uncover perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in its water sources.

“Toxic chemicals from industrial waste dumped in unlined trenches at a long-forgotten landfill have turned up this year in private residential drinking water wells north of Grand Rapids, and public health officials worry the contamination may have been occurring unnoticed for decades,” reported

The contamination has been traced back to Wolverine World Wide, a local shoe company, which dumped sludge from tanning pigskin in a nearby land tract.

“Wells on adjacent property are testing positive for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances called PFAS, (also called perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs), which Wolverine used at its former tannery in Rockford to waterproof leather for shoe manufacturing,” per

In response, Wolverine World Wide has offered potentially affected residents bottled water and kitchen filters.

“According to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, of the 21 wells with verified results so far, 14 show some level of PFAS and 7 are above the federal benchmark at which chronic exposure is considered to become unsafe,” MLive reported. “In one well, officials are aghast at the contamination level and are retesting it to be absolutely certain the result is accurate.”

Sadly, Belmont is not the only place struggling with PFC contamination.

“Some 15 million Americans across 27 states are drinking water that could be contaminated with potentially carcinogenic man-made chemicals without even realizing it,” per The Huffington Post. “Perfluorochemicals … were detected in 162 U.S. drinking water systems in recent Environmental Protection Agency testing.”

To read more about PFC problems visit Water Online’s Source Water Contamination Solutions Center.

Image credit: “ 2012-08-10 025,” Liz Strauss © 2012, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license