News and Views

June 14, 2019

‘The polluter should pay:’ Pennsylvania bill aims to ease PFAS-related drinking water charges

Source: https://www.nationofchange.org, June 14, 2019
By: Jessi Quinn Alperin

Proposed legislation would use funds from development on contaminated sites to help offset costs of cleaning tainted drinking water.

In response to chemical contamination from a naval station in his district, Representative Todd Stephens, a Pennsylvania House Representative from Montgomery County, is pushing for legislation that would remove the financial pressure on citizens to clean their own drinking water.

This push from Rep. Stephens is indicative of a larger problem—figuring out how to pay to clean drinking water from the confirmed 21 sites throughout Pennsylvania contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

The chemicals are used in products such as stain- and water-resistant clothing, nonstick pots and pans, firefighting foam, carpets, and furniture, and have been linked to various cancers, thyroid problems, low birth weights, and other problems. They’re increasingly showing up in water throughout the U.S.…

June 14, 2019

Air Force diverted $66M to cover growing chemical cleanup costs

Source: https://thehill.com, June 13, 2019
By: Rebecca Beitsch

A new analysis from the Department of Defense shows the Air Force diverted more than $66 million to cover the cleanup costs of harmful “forever chemicals” that have leached into the water supply.

Those funds were originally intended to cover a number of other projects, including asbestos abatement, radiological cleanup, removing contaminated soil, repairing the protective covering for a landfill and several projects to monitor water for contaminants and pesticides.

The class of chemicals, commonly referred to as PFAS, has been widely used by the military in firefighting foam. Often called “forever chemicals” due to their persistence in the environment, the military has now identified more than 400 sites contaminated with PFAS. Cleaning it up is expected to cost the military $2 billion.…

June 14, 2019

TVA agrees to remove 12 million tons of coal ash from Gallatin plant, clean contamination

Source: https://www.knoxnews.com, June 13, 2019
By: Jamie Satterfield

The Tennessee Valley Authority has agreed to dig up 12 million tons of coal ash stored in unlined pits at its Gallatin Fossil Plant in Middle Tennessee and clean up contamination from it, officials announced Thursday.

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery II said in a joint news release Thursday that the state reached a lawsuit settlement with TVA over coal ash contamination at the Gallatin plant and nearby waterways.

“We are pleased to bring this matter to a positive conclusion,” TDEC Commissioner David Salyers said. “This settlement will resolve environmental issues at the Gallatin Fossil Plant and we look forward to continuing our work with TVA and non-governmental organizations to further protect our environment and our citizens.”…

June 14, 2019

Report finds sweeping blame for fatal Oklahoma rig explosion

Source: Houston Chronicle, June 13, 2019
Posted on: https://www.advisen.com

A federal review of an oil rig explosion that killed five workers in Oklahoma last year assigned blame not only to the Houston company that owned and operated the rig, but also to the entire energy sector and government for a woeful lack of regulation and supervision of onshore oil and gas drilling.

The report, released Wednesday by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, amounted to an indictment of the oil and gas industry and the shale boom that rapidly turned the United States into the world’s largest oil and gas producer, but has come with little oversight and the cost of human life. The explosion, near Quinton, Okla. was the deadliest U.S. oilfield accident since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon tragedy killed 11 workers on a Gulf of Mexico offshore platform.…

June 14, 2019

U.S. Supreme Court to Review “Immensely Important” Environmental Case

Source: https://www.lexology.com, June 12, 2019
By: William K. Enger, Wilson Elser

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on June 10, 2019, to review a case involving “immensely important” questions regarding clean-up activities required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). In Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian Atlantic Richfield (ARCO) is seeking to overturn a decision by the Montana Supreme Court allowing property owners to seek in Montana state court restoration damages that went beyond a clean-up plan determined and mandated by the EPA. The EPA clean-up plan concerned the massive and historic Anaconda Smelter copper mining contamination that impacted more than 300 square miles, including residential communities. The EPA clean-up plan was ultimately agreed to by Anaconda’s successor, ARCO, after a lengthy and exhaustive remediation investigation and a Record of Decision consisting of more than 1,300 pages.…

June 13, 2019

CITY PROBERS LOOKING AT NYCHA’S NEW LEAD CLEAN-UP MESS

Source: https://thecity.nyc, June 12, 2019
By: Greg B. Smith

The city’s Housing Authority and the Department of Investigation are looking into how NYCHA workers checking for lead ended up using expired dust wipes to certify apartments are “clean,” THE CITY has learned.

The expired materials revelation raises questions about the credibility of the so-called clearance examinations NYCHA uses to officially declare an apartment lead-free.

Workers use the wipes after an apartment is cleaned of lead. The wipes, which gather dust samples, are sent to a lab for testing. But expired wipes are “less effective” at detecting lead, their manufacturer said.

Expired wipes were employed by some workers, THE CITY revealed last week as NYCHA blew it May 31 deadline to remove lead apartments where young children live.

Sources have since told THE CITY that workers at several developments were given wipes that expired in 2014 and 2016.…

June 13, 2019

Mitigation of Environmental Risks Caused by Extreme Weather

Source: https://www.law.com, June 13, 2019
By: Jillian C. Kirn

According to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, flooding is the most frequent and damaging natural disaster impacting the commonwealth. Many of Pennsylvania’s communities are located adjacent to waterbodies.

June 13, 2019

Bill would make developers responsible for cleanup costs at contaminated properties

Source: https://www.heraldnews.com, June 12, 2019
By: Jo C. Goode

A year ago the state Department of Environmental Protection issued a cease and desist order that stopped the demolition of the Healy School. Neighbors have been dealing with piles of contaminated debris currently being removed by government environmental agencies and on the taxpayers’ dime.

Now, Rep. Alan Silvia wants to hold developers responsible for the cost of cleanups. He has filed a bill that would require developers to take out performance bonds to cover the costs of environmental cleanups before the demolition of properties.

“This would alleviate the substandard demolition and construction,” said Silvia. “These situations are not good for the communities and it certainly doesn’t help the tax base.”

Spindle City Homes, which owns the Healy property on Hicks Street, and Miranda Construction Co., the company hired to perform the demolition, stopped work after the DEP order in June 2018. The order required asbestos-covered debris to be removed from the site and for dust and particles to be wet down by a licensed hazardous materials abatement company.…

June 13, 2019

Lawsuit filed against developer after deadly trench collapse

Read here about a lawsuit filed against developer after deadly trench collapse.…

June 13, 2019

Selecting Professional Liability Coverage

Source: http://www.berkleycp.com, June 4, 2019
By: Raymond F.H. Bustamante, Berkley Construction Professional

Obtaining competitive terms in a complex marketplace

The Construction Specifier
June 2019

Driven by a strong economy, the easing of lending standards, and a healthy commercial real estate marketplace, construction starts are expected to total about $800 billion in the United States, according to the Dodge Data & Analytics’ 2019 Construction Outlook.’ Although this fails to capture the double-digit growth of recent years, the report confirms the likely match of funds spent on commercial construction last year.

While the industry’s outlook bodes well for the near future, concerns have heightened due to an increase in the liability claims plaguing construction projects since the market’s resurgence during the last eight years. In many cases, these exposures have paralleled the work of builders who have taken on new assignments without the prerequisite experience and/or failed to deliver on the sustainability demands of owners.…