News and Views

July 16, 2018

Legionnaire’s Cases Reported in Washington Heights

Source: https://cooperator.com, July 16, 2018
By: David Chiu

Cooling Towers Have Been Linked to the Disease

The New York City Department of Health announced last week that it is investigating several cases of Legionnaire’s disease in the lower Washington Heights section of Manhattan. As of July 15, there were 16 people diagnosed with the condition in recent days, CBS2 News reported. The age range of those affected ranged from 40 to 80 years old.

“The Health Department has identified a cluster of Legionnaires disease in the Lower Washington Heights area,” Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said in a press statement. “While most people exposed to Legionella don’t get sick, individuals ages 50 and above, especially those who smoke and have chronic lung conditions, are at a higher risk. This disease is very treatable with antibiotics. I encourage anyone with symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease to seek care early.”

Legionnaire’s is a form of pneumonia, said the department, caused by the bacteria that grow in warm water. People become ill after breathing in water vapor that has the bacteria. It is not contagious and does not transmit from person to person.

July 13, 2018

Pork Giant Smithfield Foods Ordered to Pay $25M in Nuisance Lawsuit

Source: https://www.insurancejournal.com, July 5, 2018
By: Emery P. Dalesio

A federal jury in North Carolina has punished the world’s largest pork producer, deciding Smithfield Foods should pay two neighbors more than $25 million for unreasonable nuisances they suffered from odors, flies and rumbling trucks after an industrial-scale hog grower expanded near their home.

The case, which was supposed to be one of the most favorable to Smithfield Foods out of dozens of similar pending lawsuits in North Carolina, turned out worse for the company than a previous lawsuit that rocked agribusiness in the country’s No. 2 pork-producing state.

That earlier case, selected by lawyers for more than 500 neighbors who are suing industrial-scale hog farms in eastern North Carolina, ended in April with jurors awarding 10 neighbors $51 million for nuisances they’d long tolerated. The fine was cut to about $3 million because North Carolina law limits punitive damages. The damages in the June 29 ruling are also expected to be slashed.…

July 13, 2018

Thousands of Bourbon Barrels Come Crashing Down in Kentucky

Source: New York Times Online, June 25, 2018
Posted on: http://www.advisen.com

Bourbon is flowing in Kentucky, but don’t grab a glass.

Thousands of full barrels of bourbon, and possibly other spirits, came crashing down when a storage warehouse in Bardstown, Ky., partly collapsed on Friday.

The collapse at the Barton 1792 Distillery campus was called in to emergency services about 10:55 a.m., Milt Spalding, an emergency services director in Nelson County, said during a news conference on Friday.

The structure houses about 20,000 barrels, and an aerial video showed half of the building demolished. About 9,000 barrels were amid the rubble, Mr. Spalding said. Each barrel holds 53 gallons.

The cause of the collapse was still unknown as of Friday evening, but it did not appear to be weather related, Mr. Spalding said. No injures were reported.

The Environmental Protection Agency responded to the collapse because of concerns that alcohol may have seeped into the areas groundwater.…

July 13, 2018

Hundreds of birds stricken after Rotterdam oil spill

Source: AFP World News, June 5, 2018
Posted on: http://www.advisen.com

Animal rescue workers on Monday were frantically cleaning hundreds of birds after an oil spill in the Rotterdam harbour at the weekend, when an oil tanker hit a jetty dumping some 200 tonnes of bunker fuel.

The Norwegian tanker Bow Jubail on Saturday crashed against a jetty in western Europe’s largest port, spilling the heavy bunker fuel into the section of the harbour reserved for offloading petroleum, west of the city.

“We are currently hard at work cleaning hundreds of birds, including swans,” said Anneke Heinecke of the Dutch water management agency Rijkswaterstaat.

“Many of the birds are covered in oil and it’s not easy to catch and clean them,” Heinecke told AFP.

The Rijkswaterstaat, together with other animal aid organisations, set up an “animal hospital” Monday capable of cleaning some 500 birds, she said.

In total, more than 300 birds have been captured and were in the process of being cleaned, Heinecke said.…

July 13, 2018

Swinerton, Sacramento Kings court battle continues

Source: https://www.constructiondive.com, July 6, 2018
By: Kim Slowey

Dive Brief:

  • The Sacramento Kings’ development group, SG Downtown LLC, filed a lawsuit in Sacramento Superior Court on July 3 against Swinerton Builders, the general contractor for the team’s 16-story downtown Sacramento hotel and condo tower, alleging breach of contract. SG claims, according to The Sacramento Bee, that Swinerton’s mismanagement of the project, which has been under construction for three years, has led to more than $50 million in cost overruns and is seeking $36.4 million in damages and lost income.
  • SG alleges that Swinerton agreed to cap the project price at approximately $148 million but has now estimated the cost at $198 million and says there was no maximum-price agreement between the parties. In addition to the cost overruns, SG, which also includes JMA Ventures of San Francisco, claims that Swinerton did not deliver the 250-room hotel portion of the project in time to host NCAA tournament games in March 2017 and that condo construction is still ongoing. The hotel opened in October 2017 as did the project’s nightclub. The building also has office space, and the Kings have moved their operations to the building’s fourth floor.
  • Swinerton filed a $36 million mechanics lien on the property this past February, claiming SG owes them that much in back payments. Since last summer, some subcontractors have also complained of late payments and filed mechanics liens on the project.
July 13, 2018

Mexico City: newly opened Artz Pedregal shopping mall collapses

Source: https://www.theguardian.com, July 12, 2018

The center, which opened in March, suffered previous subsoil slides. No injuries were reported

July 12, 2018

Toxic soil claims stall San Francisco shipyard development

Dive Brief:

  • Kofi Bonner, co-chief operating officer of Five Point Holdings, developer of the Hunters Point Shipyard/Candlestick Point project on and around the site of a former U.S. Navy shipyard in San Francisco, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the project will be delayed for years due to uncertainty around potentially radioactive soil that is scaring off investors and potential homebuyers.
  • Developers still aim to build more than 12,000 homes, 300 acres of parks, offices, schools and retail developments on the site, but many of those plans were stymied after claims that soil tests and cleanup records completed for the property were falsified. Two former employees of Tetra Tech, which was hired to perform the environmental work under a $250 million contract, pleaded guilty to fabricating soil-related documentation and were sentenced to prison. The Navy, which still has possession of the Hunters Point property, with the exception of one section, Parcel A — which was supposedly never exposed to the Navy’s radiological operations at the shipyard — will not release the land to the city or developers until the soil gets the all-clear through retesting. Officials said they will start testing Parcel A as well.
  • Lennar has built approximately 450 homes on Parcel A, where residential construction continues. Bonner said the company will focus on the Candlestick Point portion of the development, where site and utility work is currently underway without the shadow of potentially toxic soil. Approximately 7,200 residential units, 300,000 square feet of commercial development and a 200-room hotel have been approved for the site, according to Bisnow, but the company in April scuttled plans for a 635,000-square-foot shopping mall, citing a downturn in the brick-and-mortar retail market.
July 10, 2018

Carson grilled about lead paint and mold in public housing

Source: http://www.watertowndailytimes.com, June 28, 2018

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson was peppered with questions by lawmakers over the department’s handling of lead paint and mold in public housing, leading to a heated exchange over how to pay for fixing the issue.

At a House Financial Services Committee oversight hearing Wednesday, Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez, D-N.Y., quizzed Carson on the Trump administration’s fiscal 2019 funding request, which called for zeroing out the department’s public housing capital fund, a source used for repairs to public housing.

She raised the case of the New York City Housing Authority, which on June 11 entered into a $1.2 billion consent decree with the Justice Department over numerous living conditions issues, including for failing to meet federal lead safety requirements and to properly conduct inspections of housing facilities.

The agreement requires the appointment of a federal monitor for five years to oversee remediation and capital repairs, which Velazquez said didn’t square with the administration’s funding request.

“How were you expecting NYCHA to meet these terms and these upgrades when you requested zero dollars for the Public Housing Capital Fund for FY 2019?” Velazquez asked. “It is great that you are exercising proper oversight, but money talks.”…

June 27, 2018

Hundreds of birds stricken after Rotterdam oil spill

Source: AFP World News, June 25, 2018
Posted on: http://www.advisen.com

Animal rescue workers on Monday were frantically cleaning hundreds of birds after an oil spill in the Rotterdam harbour at the weekend, when an oil tanker hit a jetty dumping some 200 tonnes of bunker fuel.

The Norwegian tanker Bow Jubail on Saturday crashed against a jetty in western Europe’s largest port, spilling the heavy bunker fuel into the section of the harbour reserved for offloading petroleum, west of the city.

“We are currently hard at work cleaning hundreds of birds, including swans,” said Anneke Heinecke of the Dutch water management agency Rijkswaterstaat.

“Many of the birds are covered in oil and it’s not easy to catch and clean them,” Heinecke told AFP.

The Rijkswaterstaat, together with other animal aid organisations, set up an “animal hospital” Monday capable of cleaning some 500 birds, she said.…

June 21, 2018

Risk Tip – Contractor’s Pollution Liability: Mold vs. Bacteria

By: Jeff Slivka

Even though mold continues to be of concern for many carriers, especially with regard to resulting property damage, many insurers offer mold coverage as part of their overall Contractor’s Pollution Liability (CPL) program. Depending on the type of business or work/project types conducted by the firm, it could be provided on an occurrence or clams made basis. However, bacteria, specifically Legionella Pneumophila, is found to be less common and typically must be added via endorsement. When carriers provide coverage for “microbial matter” it’s prudent to ensure it not only provides coverage for mold, fungi, mildew and the like, but also bacterial matter.…