News and Views

November 14, 2018

Georgia-Pacific begins investigation to find source of PFAS contamination in Parchment

Source: https://wwmt.com, November 12, 2018

Work begins Monday to figure out what caused high levels of PFAS in Parchment.

Georgia-Pacific, which has ties to the old Parchment Paper Mill, will start their investigation alongside the state to track down exactly what caused the water contamination in Parchment’s drinking water wells.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) will oversee Georgia-Pacific’s project in West Michigan. The joint investigation aims to figure out the complete extent of contamination as well as the sources of PFAS impacting private and public water supplies in Parchment and areas of Cooper Township.

Pulp and paper company, Georgia-Pacific, never owned or operated the paper mill but has ties to the owner. The mill is suspected as the source of the water contamination.

Georgia-Pacific will pay for the entire investigation, which will be monitored by the MDEQ. Their plans include:

  • Installing monitoring wells to track any kind of contamination
  • Collect and analyze groundwater samples from both private and public sources
  • Create an extensive report analyzing the PFAS contamination

In the meantime, Georgia-Pacific and 3M face a class-action lawsuit from Parchment residents who blame them for the PFAS contamination.…

November 14, 2018

Companies agree to pay nearly $1M for Silverton Superfund cleanup

Source: https://durangoherald.com, November 8, 2018
By: Jonathan Romeo

The current owners of a former smelting company are on the hook for nearly $1 million in the Superfund site cleanup of mines around Silverton, which seeks to improve water quality in the Animas River watershed from mining pollution.

Recently, a “consent decree” – basically an agreement contract – was reached with two companies, Blue Tree Corp. and Brown Strauss Inc., to pay an estimated $75 million for cleanup sites around the country.

Part of the agreement has the companies paying just under $1 million to the Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Colorado for the cleanup of sites included in the Bonita Peak Mining District Superfund site.

The EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment did not respond to requests for comment. An attorney for the companies included in the consent decree declined to comment.

According to the decree, Blue Tree and Brown Strauss acquired the liabilities of American Zinc, Lead and Smelting Co., which operated in the Silverton area in the early 1900s.…

November 14, 2018

Legionella threat triggers uptick in environmental liability claims

Source: https://www.insurancebusinessmag.com, November 14, 2018
by: Bethan Moorcraft

A “cluster” of legionnaires’ disease cases in September left at least seven people hospitalized with pneumonia-like symptoms in the Guildford area of Surrey, British Columbia. Fraser Health Authority confirmed the “cluster” of cases on Saturday, September 01, and immediately began an investigation.

Legionnaires’ disease is a serious respiratory illness that results in pneumonia. It’s caused by the bacteria legionella, which is commonly found in freshwater, groundwater, and soil. Legionella can also spread in human-made water systems like cooling towers, hot tubs, fountains and large plumbing systems. When water contaminated with larger quantities of the bacteria is released into air in the form of droplets or mist, people may be exposed to the bacteria by breathing in contaminated air.

The risk of getting legionnaires’ disease is generally quite low. It’s normally elderly people, smokers, or people with weakened immune systems that are most vulnerable to contracting the disease. The rare nature of legionnaires’ disease is what made September’s uncommon “cluster” in BC even more interesting.…

November 14, 2018

City of Fairbanks lawyers up to sue chemical company over contaminated water

Source: https://www.ktoo.org, November 13, 2018
By: Tim Ellis

The city of Fairbanks has retained two Lower 48 law firms to advise on how to sue the manufacturers of chemical compounds that have contaminated groundwater in several areas around the city. The officials hope to recover nearly $4 million the city has spent over the past three years to deal with the contamination caused by perfluorinated compounds contained in a type of firefighting foam.

Mayor Jim Matherly said city officials hired the two law firms to help them develop a strategy on how the city can build a case that the companies found liable for the contamination should compensate the city for the cost of dealing with it.

“They’re going to take a look at our case, take a look at the foam issue, and the contamination issue,” he said. “They’ll talk to us, talk to our legal department.”

Matherly said City Attorney Paul Ewers recommended hiring San Francisco-based SL Environmental Law Group and New York-based Kennedy & Madonna because they’re experienced in litigating contamination cases. A city spokesperson said the two firms took the case on a contingency-fee basis, so they’d only get paid if they win the case and recover damages.…

November 13, 2018

‘What did we do?’ Families anxious about chemicals found in tap water

Source: https://www.cnn.com, August 16, 2018
By: Nadia Kounang

It’s been about three weeks since Tammy Cooper last drank water from her tap. That’s when she saw a warning on Facebook for residents of her small Western Michigan town to stop drinking the water.

In Michigan, water main breaks aren’t unusual, although they’re more common in winter. It didn’t immediately strike Cooper as out of the ordinary to not be able to drink the water.

But the Facebook message made no mention of the run-of-the-mill breaks or chloroform warnings; rather, the city’s July 26 post said, “We have just been informed this afternoon by the [Michigan Department of Environmental Quality] that the PFAS level in a City well is 1400 ppt. The limit being 70 ppt.”

It advised using bottled water for cooking, drinking and making baby formula.

“I immediately felt really sick,” Cooper said.…

November 13, 2018

NBC10 Boston Responds: New House Nightmare

Source: https://www.nbcboston.com, November 7, 2018
By: Leslie Gaydos

Christie and Mike D’Andrea are rebuilding their lives after they lost their home.

“It’s like having a house fire, you lose everything, its tragic,” said homeowner Christie D’Andrea.“You say your house is full of mold and you’ve lost everything people kind of look at you and go, what?”

The couple closed on a newly constructed $481,000 home on Birch Street in Pembroke in Dec. 2014.

They moved in on New Year’s Day and Mike proposed in the front yard. But their new beginning took a disastrous turn weeks later when they discovered mold in the attic and water in the basement.

“I just wish we had never bought it, it turned into such a nightmare,” said D’Andrea.“I wish we had never found the listing. I wish we never embarked on this.”

The D’Andrea’s moved out of the house earlier this year.

They were having health issues they blamed on toxic mold exposure. Mike said he had lost sixty pounds and Christie complained of numbness in her hands and arms. They say their doctor advised them to move out and take nothing with them.…

November 9, 2018

Transbay Terminal: Cause of cracked steel beams could take weeks longer to determine

Source: https://www.eastbaytimes.com, November 9, 2018
By: Erin Baldassari

Testing of two cracked beams at the Salesforce Transit Center will extend into next week and the results could prompt further testing, officials said Thursday, pushing the estimated date for determining a cause of the failures to the end of the month or later.

Once a cause is determined, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, the public agency in charge of construction and maintenance of the facility, along with a peer review panel, will determine a permanent fix to shore the cracked beams and reopen the center, said Dennis Turchon, the authority’s senior construction manager.

The $2.2 billion transit center opened on Aug. 12, only to abruptly close six weeks later after workers discovered large cracks in two steel beams that straddle Fremont Street. The beams, which are on the center’s third floor, support the rooftop garden and bus deck.

Officials also closed the section of Fremont Street below the building until crews constructed a temporary fix that allowed the street to reopen last month. Bus riders are using the temporary terminal that had been in place during the center’s construction.

There’s still no estimate on when the center will reopen, a date that will be determined after officials determine a plan for repairs.

Turchon said crews completed a series of onsite tests of the beams before removing samples for testing in a laboratory to determine the steel’s strength and hardness.

“A very important element that we’ll find out very soon is those core samples,” Turchon said. “That is a very important element to weigh into the matrix of solutions.”

But, the authority’s board of directors on Thursday also called for a more thorough review of the entire facility, also by a peer review panel.

“Given that we found (these cracks) just by chance, it begs the question of what other things are in the building that we should be looking at,” said Ed Reiskin, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s director of transportation and a member of the authority’s board. “The emergence of the issue puts at stake the credibility of the entire project.”

The beams used American-made steel and were fabricated by a highly-regarded Stockton-based company, Herrick Corporation, which worked on the Transamerica Pyramid, 181 Fremont Street and the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco.

Skanska USA, a subcontractor of Webcor-Obayashi that was responsible for overseeing the procurement of steel at the transit center, filed a lawsuit in May against the authority, alleging the authority mismanaged the project and provided documents that were flawed or incomplete, causing delays and resulting in extra work for which Skanksa was not reimbursed.

The center’s general contractor, Webcor-Obayashi, also filed a lawsuit in October seeking $150 million in damages, alleging similar complaints. A spokesperson for the contractor said they anticipate the two suits are just the first of “an avalanche of lawsuits” to come due to the early mismanagement of the center.

The authority’s board of directors fired its former executive director, Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan, in 2016 over concerns about major cost overruns and repeated delays. San Francisco’s Department of Public Works then took over the project.…

November 8, 2018

Carbon monoxide leak at downtown Nashville Westin hotel sends several to hospital

Source: https://www.tennessean.com, November 7, 2018
By: Natalie Neysa Alund and Mariah Timms

Emergency crews evacuated a portion of the Westin hotel in downtown Nashville on Wednesday morning and transported several people to the hospital after authorities detected a carbon monoxide leak in the building.

The Nashville Fire Department and Metro police responded about 6:50 a.m. at 807 Clark Place, a Metro Nashville dispatcher said.

According to fire officials, the leak sickened 14 people, and crews transported six victims to the hospital.

A Westin employee who answered the phone Wednesday morning said the hotel was not completely evacuated.…

November 7, 2018

Investigation points to concrete, steel defects as cause of cracks in Texas stadium

Source: https://www.constructiondive.com, August 1, 2018
By: Kim Slowey

In the second of three reports, Nelson Forensics has determined that the cracks in the McKinney High School football stadium, according to The Dallas Morning News, were caused by: too much water in the concrete mix, which caused the concrete to shrink more than it should have while it dried; not enough concrete in the cross-section along pier lines; and too little steel reinforcing to control shrinkage cracking.

Nelson said that the stadium’s design was not at issue but rather that construction was not carried out in accordance to the project documents.

The company reiterated its position that the cracks did not pose safety concerns, only durability concerns. However, Nelson said that while cracking at the visitor concourse did not affect the structural integrity of the slabs, if the cracks are left unrepaired, they could widen and become a tripping hazard. Water intrusion could also corrode reinforcing steel.…

November 7, 2018

Contractors face tough time covering construction delays

Source: https://www.businessinsurance.com, November 6, 2018
By: Gaven Souter

Delays in construction projects can cause huge increases in costs, but identifying insurance policies to cover the costs is complex and varies significantly depending on policy wordings, construction insurance experts say.

While traditional construction insurance coverages may apply or specific delay in startup insurance may be triggered, there’s rarely a straightforward solution to covering the construction delays, they say.

Most construction projects run late, and a significant proportion of projects run over budget, said Tony Rastall, divisional director, energy, at Ed Broking Group Ltd. in London.…