News and Views

July 22, 2019

Toxic chemicals from firefighting foams could be found at 11 SC military bases

Source: https://www.postandcourier.com, July 20, 2019
By: Andrew Brown

Nearly every major military installation in South Carolina could be polluted with toxic chemicals from a firefighting foam, which has seeped into the environment and fouled drinking water across the country.

The Post and Courier revealed several studies earlier this month that confirmed four Air Force bases in South Carolina are saturated with the chemicals known as PFOS and PFOA. Among them were Shaw Air Force Base, Joint Base Charleston, the North Auxiliary Airfield and the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base.

But that count could expand significantly if the military’s suspicions prove true.

A list provided to Congress shows the Department of Defense believes the chemical-laden foam could be found at seven other current and former military bases throughout the Palmetto State. It’s all part of a growing mountain of liability related to the military’s decades-long use of the firefighting foam.

And it’s not just Air Force sites that are being investigated.

The Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island and the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort are listed among the nearly 400 other potentially contaminated bases around the globe.…

July 22, 2019

Kentucky to Fine Jim Beam Over Warehouse Fire, Bourbon Spill

Source: https://www.insurancejournal.com, July 15, 2019

Authorities say Jim Beam will be fined for the warehouse fire that contaminated nearby waters with bourbon and killed fish.

Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet spokesman John Mura tells WKYT-TV that there will be a penalty. He says the state Department of Fish & Wildlife may also fine the company. The cost of the fines was unclear as of last week.

A lightning strike set the Woodford County warehouse on fire July 8 and destroyed about 45,000 barrels of bourbon. The site burned for days and runoff filled with alcohol and firefighting chemicals bled into nearby rivers and creeks, removing oxygen from the water and killing fish.

The cabinet said the nearly 23-mile alcohol plume moved through the Kentucky River and into the Ohio River, where it is dissipating.…

July 22, 2019

Environmentalists Lose Bid to Restore EPA Ban on Chlorpyrifos Pesticide

Source: https://www.insurancejournal.com, July 19, 2019
By: Valerie Volcovici

The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday said it will not ban the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which has been linked to health issues in children, from use on U.S.-grown fruits and vegetables.

The agency denied the petition by a dozen environmental groups, led by Earthjustice, to ban the pesticide. They said studies show that exposures to the pesticide is liked to low birth weight, reduced IQ, attention disorders and other issues in infants and children.

The Obama administration’s EPA had banned the use of chlorpyrifos in 2015 after it decided it could not be certain whether exposure to the chemical in food and water would be harmful. But Trump’s first EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, reversed that decision in 2017, prompting an ongoing legal battle.

In April, the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the EPA had until mid-July to decide whether to reverse Pruitt’s overturn of the ban on chlorpyrifos.

The pesticide is made by Corteva Agriscience, formerly part of DowDuPont. “We are committed to working with the Agency as it seeks to make an accurate assessment and, if necessary, reduce potential exposures, while also ensuring that growers for whom chlorpyrifos is a critical tool can continue to use the product safely,” said Gregg Schmidt, a spokesman for the firm, in an email to Reuters.…

July 22, 2019

Judge Supports Reducing $2 Billion Damages in Bayer Roundup Glyphosate Case

Source: https://www.insurancejournal.com, July 19, 2019
Buy: Doublas Busvine

Germany’s Bayer AG welcomed on Friday a call by a U.S. judge to cut a $2 billion damages award to a Californian couple by a jury which found that its glyphosate-based weed killer had caused their cancer.

The company had in June asked Judge Winifred Y. Smith, of California’s Alameda County Superior Court, to overrule the jury verdict that its Roundup weed killer caused Alva and Alberta Pilliod’s non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL), arguing it was not supported by the evidence.

Judge Smith, in a 15-page opinion, said the punitive damages that make up most of the award should be reduced. A hearing was due to be held on Friday on reduced damages and if the parties fail to agree, the case would go to a retrial.

“The court’s tentative order proposes changes in the damage awards, which would be a step in the right direction,” Bayer said in a statement. “Bayer will wait for a final order on the post-trial motions before commenting in further detail.”…

July 19, 2019

Macomber School installing new water system after contamination

Source: https://www.heraldnews.com, July 19, 2019
By: Jeffrey D. Wagner

The district’s four-year fight to stop manganese contamination in the Macomber Primary School drinking water supply might be coming to an end.

Superintendent Gary Reese said $50,000 was approved at a recent School Committee meeting to contract with a company to install a new system. He said Facilities Director Michael Duarte would develop a schedule with the company.

The plan is to turn the taps back on by the start of the school year, saving the school money from bottled water purchases, according to Reese.

The superintendent said the district has been in “close communication” with the state Department of Environmental Protection to keep it updated on efforts to handle the problem. The proposal received DEP approval in June.…

July 18, 2019

Bay Area counties win $305 million settlement in lead paint case

Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA), July 17, 2019
Posted on: https://www.advisen.com

As part of a settlement in a decades-old legal battle, several former manufacturers of lead paint will have to pay $305 million to a number of Bay Area cities and counties to clean up the toxic substance.

The money — paid by Sherwin-Williams Company, ConAgra Grocery Products Company and NL Industries — will go toward local lead paint cleanup programs.

The local governments had alleged the manufacturers promoted the use of lead paint in homes despite knowing it could cause lead poisoning in children.

According to a news release from Santa Clara County’s Office of the County Counsel announcing the settlement, lead paint-related hazards are the most significant environmental hazard for children in California and elsewhere. The substance can cause brain damage and learning disabilities.

In addition to Santa Clara County, Alameda, Los Angeles, Monterey, San Mateo, Solano and Ventura counties will receive money in the settlement. So will both the city and county of San Francisco, and the cities of Oakland and San Diego.…

July 18, 2019

Lets Talk: State of the environmental insurance market

Source: https://axaxl.com, June 14, 2019
By: Matt O’Malley, President, North American Environmental, AXA XL

As the saying goes – there is no use crying over spilled milk. For many businesses, dealing with spilled milk is not a likely problem. Instead, the question is – what happens when fuel oil, hydraulic fluid, stored chemicals, or other substances spill? Without the right insurance coverage, such a spill may give businesses a good reason to cry.

Environmental incidents like these can easily result in a five or six-figure clean up price tag. Fortunately, says Matt O’Malley, president of AXA XL’s North America environmental insurance business, that’s why environmental insurance has become more of a staple in businesses’ insurance portfolios. Here he explains why.

Are more businesses buying environmental insurance?
O’Malley: 
Yes. More businesses have come to realize that their operations can have some environmental impact. When it does, they have also become aware that their commercial general liability or their property insurance offer little coverage to clean up after an environmental incident. Environmental insurance fills this gap, covering loss or damages that result when an unexpected pollution incident happens. An environmental policy can cover a business against claims for bodily injury, property damage, cleanup costs, and business interruption. And because there is a steady demand for environmental coverage, the market continues to be very competitive, but we see ample opportunities for growth.…

July 17, 2019

Faulty Excavation Support Not Covered By Contractor Controlled Insurance Plan

Source: https://www.lexology.com, July 11, 2019
By: Larry P. Schiffer, Squire Patton Boggs

Construction projects are often subject to myriad claims. Subcontractors can cause damage to third-parties and their property, the project can be delayed by municipal inspections or citations, workers can get injured, and property can be damaged by fire, collapse or weather. To organize construction projects, sometimes insurance is purchased through a plan. A contractor controlled insurance plan (“CCIP”) provides coverage to all enrolled parties and usually includes all subcontractors. But, by enrolling in a CCIP or even by having your own insurance, not all things that happen on a construction site are covered by insurance. In a recent 4th Circuit opinion, claims by a subcontractor to recover damages it paid to others for its faulty excavation supports that caused damage to adjacent properties was not covered by the CCIP.

In Schnabel Foundation Co. v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA, No. 18-1782 (4th Cir. Jul. 10, 2019) (Unpublished Non-binding Precedent), a foundation subcontractor installed a support of excavation system to shore up the construction site to protect neighboring properties during construction. Apparently, the subcontractor did a poor job and adjacent buildings were damaged. This caused the municipality to issue a halt work order and it took a year before the support system could be completed properly and construction was allowed to restart.…

July 17, 2019

Does Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Present A Current Or Future Claims Risk

Source: Mondaq Business Briefing, July 16, 2019
Posted on: https://www.advisen.com

As technology has increased, there has been an inevitable proliferation in the number of electromagnetic and radio-frequency field sources that people are exposed to on a daily basis. These include Wi-Fi, power lines, mobile phones and masts, IT equipment and other electronic devices.

There are increasing numbers of people who report experiencing unpleasant symptoms due to exposure to these electromagnetic sources – a condition known as electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) – describing a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Headaches, dizziness and nausea
  • Difficulty concentrating and/or memory loss
  • Irritability, depression and/or anxiety
  • Insomnia or fatigue.

Should risk managers be worried? Currently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) states that “research has not been able to provide support for a causal relationship between exposure to electromagnetic fields and self-reported symptoms, or ‘electromagnetic hypersensitivity‘”, but has indicated that further research will be completed.…

July 16, 2019

Nevada sues architects behind stadium redesign, says stadium needs $4M in fixes to be ADA complaint

Source: https://finance.yahoo.com, July 16, 2019
By: Nick Bromberg

The University of Nevada has filed a lawsuit against the architectural firm that did the redesign of Mackay Stadium because the school says it’s had to make millions in changes for the stadium to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The school will ask its board of regents to approve moving ahead with the lawsuit on Friday. Nevada says its contract with the WorthGroup stipulates that the firm should be held responsible for the $3.9 million in costs incurred to make the changes to meet ADA standards.

From the Reno Gazette Journal:

UNR will ask the Board of Regents, the elected body over the state’s public colleges, at a meeting Friday to approve moving forward with litigation in federal court.

UNR said its contract with the WorthGroup stipulates the architecture firm is responsible for costs of construction that results in negligent errors.

The university said it asked the WorthGroup to pay for the renovations to fix both botched redesigns but the architect firm refused.