Claims – Pollution Legal Liability

October 16, 2017

Smooth Sailing for a Pollution Exclusion?

Source: https://www.claimsjournal.com, October 16, 2017
By: Steven Pitt

The question of whether carbon monoxide constitutes a pollutant for purposes of a standard policy pollution exclusion has been mixed among the courts. Whether carbon monoxide constitutes pollution is jurisdiction-specific and depends on whether the jurisdiction adopts a traditional or broadened view of environmental pollution. Exposure to carbon monoxide is a serious event. Nevertheless, the seriousness of a carbon monoxide claim can be somewhat blunted by the extremes that claimants will go to in arguing around a pollution exclusion. Such was the case that was recently decided by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In Travelers Property Casualty Co. of America v. Klick, 867 F.3d 989 (8th Cir. 2017) the claimant was riding as a passenger on a fishing boat owned by a friend. The 25-foot fishing boat had been purchased a few weeks earlier. While fishing on a lake in Minnesota, both the boat owner, Lonnie Norburg, and the claimant, Christopher Klick, noticed that the engine was not operating properly. At that point, Norburg, who was at the helm of the boat, asked Klick to take the helm while Norburg went to check on the engine problem. The helm of the boat was near the front of the boat in the wheelhouse. The wheelhouse was a roofed area with walls and windows to the front, left, and right. The back of the wheelhouse was open. The boat’s engine was located in a compartment beneath the wheelhouse.…

October 13, 2017

Philadelphia school to remain closed Friday for mold remediation

Source: http://www.phillyvoice.com, October 12, 2017
By: Andrew Parent

An elementary school in the city’s Germantown section will remain closed Friday as work continues to remove mold found in several of its classrooms.

About 80 percent of the remediation work at John B. Kelly Elementary School had been completed as of early Thursday afternoon, according to the School District of Philadelphia.

Trace amounts of mold were the result of issues with the building’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system, according to the district, which was alerted to contamination on Wednesday.

An environmental remediation contractor began work to remove the mold Wednesday afternoon and had been expected to finish the job Thursday evening, the district said.

The district said the school will not reopen until it is mold-free.

Faculty members will again report Friday to the Hill-Freedman World Academy, 1100 E. Mt. Pleasant St.

The district plans to give an update to parents and staff no later than 5 p.m. Sunday.…

October 13, 2017

More mold found in Cheltenham schools

Source: http://www.philly.com, October 10, 2017
By: Kristen A. Graham

Monroe Township in Gloucester County isn’t the only district coping with a mold problem in one of its schools.

Cheltenham, where mold caused years of problems and ultimately forced the school district to shut and rebuild one of its middle schools, has had another mold outbreak.

Cheltenham High School’s library was closed this week after mold was found there, said Steve Greenbaum, a district spokesman.

The problem was discovered when a staffer who worked in the library complained of feeling sick. Cheltenham contracted with an environmental engineering firm, which found mold in the air and on many of the library’s books. Immediate remediation was suggested.

The district shut the library as of Monday and is accelerating a project to renovate the library and replace its HVAC system. It will remain closed through the renovation, a process that is expected to last into the spring.

A six-point plan to remediate the mold is underway, officials said — from removing and replacing ceiling tiles to using special filters and vacuums to clean and purify the books and rooms.

Greenbaum said it was not immediately clear how much the remediation and renovation would cost.

The rest of the school is unaffected, Cheltenham officials said in information sent to parents. The library’s HVAC system is self-contained, so its air was not spread to other areas in the building.

“Families will be notified if additional mold testing within the high school yields problematic results,” the district said.

No mold was found in the library when it was cleaned and prepared for students prior to the start of the school year, officials said, and no one reported any possible problems until the staffer disclosed her illness recently.

While the library is closed, school officials have made alternate spaces available for students to study, take exams, seek help for computer repairs, and print documents.…

October 10, 2017

Contentious school board meeting held to discuss mold mess

Source: http://www.nj.com, October 10, 2017
By: Chris Franklin

The mold controversy that has become a concern for many residents who live in the Monroe Township School District found its way to the Williamstown High School auditorium Monday. The hall, which holds over 1,020 people was so packed that the township fire marshal had to tell people to line up outside in the hallways.

Earlier in the day, the school district announced that the every school in the district will be closed for the rest of the week as outside contractors begin surveying the school and seeing if mold is above acceptable levels in the district’s six buildings. The Holly Glen Elementary School was closed last Thursday after mold counts were deemed excessive.

The emergency Monroe Township Board of Education meeting was at times contentious. In a scene that resembled a rally, parents and students in the crowd voiced their displeasure, trying to find out the cause of the mold and asking questions as to how long the board knew about the mold as well as who should be held responsible.

TTI Environmental and All Risk are the two companies that will be working together to remove the mold and clean the buildings. TTI Environmental Vice President of Consulting Timothy Popp was at the meeting to go over the process of how the buildings will be inspected and tested for mold while All Risk Senior Vice President Lou Crisei said a crew of 40 to 50 people would be brought in to clean. TTI would then come back in and retest to make sure it is safe.…

September 25, 2017

NYC man dies of Legionnaires’ disease, 1 other sickened

Source: http://www.foxnews.com, September 21, 2017

A Queens resident is dead and another was sickened after they both contracted Legionnaires’ disease within a two-month period, prompting New York City health officials to investigate their apartment building’s plumbing.

The other residents of Park Towers, located on Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills, have been notified of the ongoing investigation.

“The Health Department is working with the building management to test the building’s hot water plumbing system,” a New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene spokesman said, according to NBC New York. “The building does not have a cooling tower. While the risk of infection to tenants is very low, as part of our protocol, the Department will notify residents about the investigation and next steps.”

While authorities did not identify either victim, they said the fatality involved an elderly resident.

“It makes my stomach sick,” Denise Innes, a building resident, told NBC New York. “I feel like I don’t know, I’m nervous now to use the water.”

In 2015, there were multiple clusters of Legionnaires’ disease in the Bronx. Twelve people died in the largest one, which was in the South Bronx.

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ can mimic the flu and present as cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches and headaches. Symptoms typically begin two to 10 days after exposure, and could progress to lung failure or even death without treatment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one out of every 10 Legionnaires’ patients will die due to complications form their illness.…

August 31, 2017

Harvey aftermath: More chemical fires possible as city loses clean water

Source: http://www.cnn.com, August 31, 207
By: Nicole Chavez and Holly Yan

A spate of unexpected disasters are gripping Texas cities nearly a week after Hurricane Harvey slammed into the coast.

The entire city of Beaumont has no running water after both of its water pumps failed. And they won’t be fixed until the floodwater has receded.

In Crosby, plumes of black smoke billowed from a flooded chemical plant — with more blasts possible.

And in Houston, where authorities will go door-to-door to search for victims Thursday, residents near the Barker Reservoir must flee immediately as the massive pool of water is at imminent risk of overflowing and overwhelming their homes.

More chemical plant fires possible

A pair of blasts at the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby sent plumes of smoke into the sky Thursday morning — and more could follow.

“We want local residents to be aware that product is stored in multiple locations on the site, and a threat of additional explosion remains,” Arkema said in a statement. “Please do not return to the area within the evacuation zone until local emergency response authorities announce it is safe to do so.”…

August 30, 2017

Lead-Based Paint Is a “Pollutant” within CGL Pollution Exclusion

Source: http://www.constructionrisk.com, August 2017
By: Kent Holland

Where lead-based paint was ingested by a tenant’s child, the tenant sued her landlord for injuries allegedly sustained by the child. The landlord tendered the claim to its commercial general liability (CGL) insurer who, instead of defending the case, filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a determination that the pollution exclusion of the CGL policy barred coverage for the alleged injuries. The Owner held that, although not specifically listed in the pollution definition as a “pollutant,” lead-based paint is, in fact, a “pollutant” within the meaning of the policy. The policy’s pollution exclusion was, therefore, applicable, and the insurer had no duty to defend and indemnify the landlord. See Georgia Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. v. Smith, 298 Ga. 716, 784 S.E.2d 422 (2016).

The terms of the CGL policy required the insurer “to pay those sums that the insured becomes legally obligated to pay as damages because of ‘bodily injury’ or ‘property damage’” … “only if: (1) the ‘bodily injury’ or ‘property damage’ is caused by an ‘occurrence’ that takes place ….” An occurrence is defined as “an accident.” Coverage was subject to exclusions, including the pollution exclusion, which provided that the insurance does not apply to “(1) ‘[b]odily injury’ or ‘property damage’ arising out of the actual, alleged or threatened discharge, dispersal, seepage, migration, release or escape of ‘pollutants’: (a) [a]t or from any premises, site or location which is or was at any time owned or occupied by, or rented or loaned to, any insured.”…

August 10, 2017

Tank Leak Oozes 300,000 Tons Of Molten Glass Into Ohio Plant

Read here about a ruptured tank at an Ohio plant that spilled molten glass.…

August 8, 2017

High manganese levels lead EPA to crack down on Southeast Side polluter

Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com, August 8, 2017
By: Michael Hawthorne

Federal environmental regulators are cracking down on a Southeast Side company after finding high levels of brain-damaging manganese in a low-income, predominantly Latino neighborhood.

Air quality monitors posted around the S.H. Bell Co. storage terminal recorded violations of federal health standards during nearly 40 percent of the days when samples were collected between March and June, according to data posted online Monday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Average concentrations of the heavy metal exceeded the legal limit of 0.3 micrograms per cubic meter of air during the period and spiked up to four times higher, prompting the EPA to cite S.H. Bell with violations of the federal Clean Air Act.

The alarming findings come three years after investigators stumbled across S.H. Bell while taking a closer look at two nearby sites that stored dusty piles of petroleum coke along the Calumet River.

Monitors at one of the sites owned by KCBX Terminals picked up high levels of manganese on days when winds blew across the river from the vicinity of S.H. Bell’s facility between 101st and 103rd streets. After S.H. Bell repeatedly ignored federal and city orders to install additional monitors, a court-ordered legal settlement required the equipment to be up and running by March.…

August 8, 2017

DuPont to Settle Environmental Lawsuits for Millions

Read here about almost $400 million in environmental lawsuits that DuPont has agreed to settle.…