News and Views

January 24, 2020

The (Rock) Finer Points of the Absolute Pollution Exclusion

Source: https://www.natlawreview.com/, January 21, 2020

The pollution exclusion has had a long history of being interpreted by the courts throughout the US.  Many substances have been held to come within the pollution exclusion, resulting in a bar of insurance coverage for costs sustained by policyholders addressing those substances in waterways and the air.  In a recent case, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals interpreted the pollution exclusion in the context of quarry operations and the unintentional release of “rock fines” into a waterway. Read more.

January 23, 2020

PFAS contamination found at Detroit-area plating company site leaking cancer causing chemicals

Source: https://www.wsws.org/, January 22, 2020
By: Kevin Reed

Michigan state environmental officials have revealed that tests near the site of a three-year toxic chemical leak at a Madison Heights industrial facility show PFAS contamination of surface water along with previously established hexavalent chromium contamination of the ground water.

The Detroit News reported on January 17 that the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) had tested the storm sewers and Bear Creek near the location of the shuttered Electro-Plating Services and found the presence of PFAS contamination. Read more.

January 23, 2020

PFAS Contamination Leading to Investigations and Litigation in Delaware

Source: https://www.lexology.com/, January 16, 2020
By: Stephen D. Daly, Manko Gold Katcher & Fox

In December 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with support from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), held a public meeting to address the proposed listing of the Blades Groundwater Site in Sussex County, Delaware to the federal Superfund National Priorities List primarily on account of discovery in the local groundwater of elevated concentrations of various contaminants, including PFOA and PFOS, two types of per- and poly-flouoralkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS chemicals have not yet been declared hazardous under the federal Superfund program, although DNREC has identified certain PFAS chemicals, including PFOA and PFOS, as hazardous substances subject to its state cleanup program. Read more.

January 23, 2020

U.S. drinking water widely contaminated with ‘forever chemicals’: environment watchdog

Source: https://www.reuters.com/, January 22, 2020
By: Timothy Gardner

The contamination of U.S. drinking water with man-made “forever chemicals” is far worse than previously estimated with some of the highest levels found in Miami, Philadelphia and New Orleans, said a report on Wednesday by an environmental watchdog group.

The chemicals, resistant to breaking down in the environment, are known as perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. Some have been linked to cancers, liver damage, low birth weight and other health problems. Read more.

January 23, 2020

PFAS Federal Legislation

Source: https://www.law.nyu.edu/, January 17, 2020

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are bioaccumulative and environmentally persistent, have been widely used in commercial applications since the 1950s and have been linked to a series of human health harms, including cancer, kidney disease and birth and developmental disorders. The chemicals have been detected in the drinking water of more than six million Americans at a level exceeding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2016 lifetime drinking water health advisories level of 70 parts per trillion (ppt) — a level seven to ten times greater than the safe level of exposure estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2018. Read more.

January 21, 2020

U.S. Supreme Court lets Flint, Michigan residents sue over water contamination

Source: https://finance.yahoo.com/, January 21, 2020

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday let residents of Flint, Michigan pursue a civil rights lawsuit against the city and government officials that accused them of knowingly allowing the city’s water supply to become contaminated with lead.

The justices turned away two appeals by the city and the state and local officials of a lower court ruling that allowed the lawsuit to move forward. The lower court rejected a demand for immunity by the officials, finding that they violated the residents’ “right to bodily integrity” under the U.S. Constitution by providing the tainted water after switching water sources in a cost-cutting move in 2014. Read more.

January 21, 2020

Leak still not plugged at Mosaic plant after almost 3 months

Source: https://www.yoursun.com/, January 20, 2020
By: Betsy Calvert

By Monday, no one had publicly shared a plan yet on how to fix a leak of phosphate manufacturing fluids at Mosaic Company’s Bartow plant discovered Oct. 23.

This may impact a decision by state regulators about a discharge permit that Mosaic needs to keep operating its Bartow phosphate plant. A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection said last week that the state is evaluating whether the draft permit they issued last spring is adequate to handle the current phosphogypsum stack leak. Read more.

January 17, 2020

Lawsuit against Indiana University for a mold outbreak is granted class action status

Source: https://www.chicagotribune.com/, January 15, 2020

A judge has granted class-action status to a lawsuit alleging an Indiana university breached its contract by provided substandard living assignments to thousands of students staying in residential halls where mold was found.

Circuit Court Judge Holly Harvey’s Monday ruling comes as Indiana University’s residence centers Foster and McNutt are being renovated, where mold was a problem during the 2018-19 school year. Read more.

January 17, 2020

Pollution exclusion means no coverage for this dry cleaner defendant

Source: https://www.canadianunderwriter.ca/, January 16, 2020
By: Greg Meckbach

A British Columbia court ruling in favour of Intact Insurance Company and Economical Mutual Insurance Company is now final.

A Vancouver-based dry cleaners that wanted to make a pollution-related claim with the two insurers, under commercial general liability policies, cannot appeal the coverage dispute to the Supreme Court of Canada, the top court announced Thursday. Read more.

January 17, 2020

EPA: Site of former Olde Towne dry cleaner poses health risks to surrounding area

Source: https://www.omaha.com/, January 16, 2020
By: Brody Hilgenkamp

Groundwater vapor contamination related to a former Olde Towne Bellevue dry cleaning business poses immediate health threats to the area and has prompted federal action to clean up the site.

The Environmental Protection Agency will hold two public meetings related to the former Carriage Cleaners site, which sat on the corner of 22nd Avenue and Franklin Street. Read more.