News and Views

April 23, 2019

Pollution cleanups planned for two dry cleaning sites

Source: https://www.timesunion.com, April 19, 2019
By: Brian Nearing

Toxic chemicals will be dug out of two vacant former dry cleaners sites in Schenectady and Watervliet, under plans announced by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The property around the former Admiral Cleaners, 617 19th St., Watervliet, and the former Kenwood Cleaners, 445 Duane Ave.,

Schenectady, are tainted with high levels of a carcinogenic dry cleaning solvent, tetrachloroethene (PCE), and related toxic byproducts.

Exposure to PCE likely increases cancer risk, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Primary effects from chronic, long-term inhalation exposure are neurological, including impaired cognitive and motor neurobehavioral performance, according to EPA.

PCE exposure may also “cause adverse effects in the kidney, liver, immune system and hematologic system, and on development and reproduction,” according to the EPA.

April 23, 2019

PFAS-related suits gain steam as litigants hit Wolverine Worldwide

Source: https://www.detroitnews.com, April 18, 2019
By: Leonard N. Fleming

Some of the nation’s high-profile environmental law firms, along with Michigan-based ones, are waging legal battles related to PFAS contamination in the state after decades of waste dumping by a popular shoe manufacturer that has seeped into private wells.

The civil lawsuits over per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, the so-called forever chemicals, have been grinding away quietly for months. Depositions are being taken of employees and top officials of Wolverine Worldwide, 3M and others involved in the toxic contamination cases that have gripped west Michigan over possible health risks for more than a year.

PFAS has links to health risks such as thyroid disease, increased cholesterol levels, and kidney and testicular cancers. State officials are conducting a two-year assessment of the blood serum and drinking water samples from roughly 800 Kent County residents, half of which have been exposed to high PFAS levels through their water supply and half of which have low to no PFAS in their water.…

April 23, 2019

3,600-gallon sulfuric acid spill reported at Cornerstone Chemical near Waggaman

Source: https://www.nola.com, April 22, 2019

A broken flange on a pipe is believed to be the cause of a spill of 3,600 gallons of sulfuric acid that occurred at the Cornerstone Chemical Co.facility at Waggaman on April 11, according to a state environmental official.

The spill was reported by Cornerstone to both the Coast Guard National Response Center and state officials just after midnight April 12, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality spokesman Gregory Langley said Friday (April 19).

As of Monday, no report on the spill or its cleanup had been filed in DEQ’s Electronic Document Management System, an online repository for official records that have been created or received by the agency.

Cornerstone officials did not respond Monday to a request for information about the spill.

A summary of the company’s report to the National Response Center was posted on the web site of Skytruth, an environmental group that tracks chemical and oil accidents reported to the Coast Guard.…

April 23, 2019

Three people diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease after visiting hotel water park in Casselton

Source: https://www.inforum.com, February 22, 2019
By: Phoenix Bauer

Three individuals have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease after visiting a hotel water park in Casselton, according to a release by the North Dakota Department of Health.

The release states that the three people were diagnosed between July 2018 and January 2019 and all used the water park at the Days Inn of Casselton prior to being diagnosed.

The Department of Health took water and sand samples from the hotel in early January and one of the samples from the spa contained Legionella bacteria, which spreads and causes Legionnaire’s disease.

The hotel cleaned and disinfected the spa and a new sample taken from the spa on Jan. 31 tested negative for the bacteria, according to the release. A third test done on the spa water on Feb. 13 tested positive again for the bacteria, according to the health department.

April 22, 2019

SETTLEMENT REACHED OVER POLLUTION AT INTERNATIONAL PAPER

Source: https://www.wwaytv3.com, April 19, 2019

The Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a settlement with Honeywell International Inc., and International Paper Co., for cleanup of contaminated soils and sediments at the LCP-Holtrachem plant in Riegelwood.

The United States brought its action under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as the Superfund Law, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

The LCP-Holtrachem Superfund Site  is about 24 acres adjacent to the Cape Fear River at 636 John Riegel Road. From 1963 to 2000, the LCP-Holtrachem plant made chemicals such as sodium hydroxide, liquid chlorine, hydrogen gas, liquid bleach and hydrochloric acid using a mercury cell process.

According to the complaint, filed simultaneously with the settlement Thursday in the Eastern District of North Carolina, the two companies are liable for historic industrial discharges of metals, including mercury, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at the Site.

“This settlement incisively corrects historic environmental issues impinging on the Cape Fear River,” said Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark of the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to work with its partners at EPA to ensure that companies are held accountable for past environmental damage as required by CERCLA.”…

April 22, 2019

Supreme Court Takes Up Citgo Liability in Oil Spill

Source: https://www.courthousenews.com, April 22, 2019
By: Kevin Lessmiller

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether three Citgo-affiliated companies must pay most of the $100 million-plus bill for cleaning up a 2004 oil spill in the Delaware River.

The oil tanker Athos, laden with Venezuelan crude, was only inches from docking at a port in New Jersey in November 2004 when it was discovered to be leaking. A subsequent investigation found a breech had been torn into the vessel by an abandoned nine-ton anchor in the navigation channel.

The vessel’s owner, Frescati Shipping Company Ltd., and the U.S. government paid $143 million for the cleanup in the immediate aftermath of the spill. However, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 allows the government to recoup the funds from liable parties after the fact.

The government and Frescati sued Citgo Asphalt Refining Company, Citgo Petroleum Corporation and Citgo East Coast Oil Corporation – collectively referred to as CARCO – which controlled the port in Paulsboro, New Jersey.…

April 22, 2019

Construction runoff at Legoland New York spurs 22 violations

Source: https://www.constructiondive.com, April 21, 2019
By: Kim Slowey

Dive Brief:

  • The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation cited Legoland New York’s owner and contractors with 22 new violations this month in an effort to prevent continuing discharge of construction runoff from the $500 million project into local waterways, the Tribune Herald-Record reported. The total fines attached to these latest violations total $228,050.
  • The state’s order, like a previous one it issued in September 2018 for similar violations at the park’s construction site, is directed at Legoland owner Merlin Entertainments; Pearl River, New York-based general contractor Holt Construction; and local engineering firm Lanc & Tully. The order gives them 10 days to stabilize eroded soil and 30 days to come up with a new erosion control plan.
  • Since May 2018, the state has cited the project 27 times for polluting waterways, and the Town of Goshen has issued one citation. Project officials have said that above-average rainfall has contributed to the runoff, as has a town mandate that requires crews to move excavated dirt around the site due to a ban on trucking in or removing soil in order to keep construction trucks off local roads.
April 18, 2019

City sues contractors over transfer station issues

Source: https://www.weatherforddemocrat.com, April 17, 2019
By: Joseph Brown

Huntsville has authorized a lawsuit against three contractors in a bid to recoup repair costs for structural issues at the hub for the city’s trash.

In January, city officials revealed that pavement for the driveway at the transfer station was cracking and crumbling, just 18 months after the near $3.6 million facility opened its doors. Officials later discovered that the contractor did not provide lime stabilization, did not install steel reinforcements nor did they deliver the desired concrete thickness, according to attorney Jeff Chapman of the Chapman Firm, who is representing the city in the litigation.

“The pavement at the transfer station was cracking, crumbling and deteriorating in a way that is not acceptable, and in a way that was not anticipated from the intended design and construction,” Chapman said.

The city’s lawsuit will be filed against the facilities designer Weaver Consulting Group, contractor-at-risk Anchor Construction and subcontractor Liberty Concrete.…

April 18, 2019

Architects dropped from public housing lawsuit over mold

Source: https://www.seacoastonline.com, April 18, 2019
By: Elizabeth Dinanc

An architectural firm has been dropped from a lawsuit alleging faulty construction caused mold in apartments at the Wamesit Place public housing complex, while a related suit is ongoing at Superior Court, and the dispute is scheduled for mediation.

The lawsuit was filed by Portsmouth attorney John Bosen, on behalf of the Wamesit Place Family Housing Limited Partnership, and claims mold remediation at the apartments has required a “massive” amount of work and the temporary relocation of some residents. The Portsmouth Housing Authority manages the 100-unit Wamesit Place apartments on Greenleaf Avenue and its director Craig Welch previously told the Portsmouth Herald he can’t discuss ongoing litigation, but would say no residents’ health is at risk.

In a joint statement, filed with the U.S. District Court of New Hampshire, Bosen and attorney Clara Lyons for Portland Builders Inc. reported that allegations previously brought against Goduti-Thomas Architects were “entirely dismissed.”…

April 18, 2019

Bacteria that killed California inmate found to be widespread in Stockton prison

Source: https://www.sacbee.com, April 17, 2019
By: Wes Venteicher

Water tests discovered legionella throughout a state prison in Stockton, showing the bacteria found in a dead inmate last month is more widespread than was previously known, according to a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation email sent to staff Tuesday.

The inmate, whom the department hasn’t identified, died the first week of March after being transported to an outside hospital from California Health Care Facility. The department reported March 26 that a second inmate had tested positive for the bacteria, which can cause a severe and sometimes deadly form of pneumonia known as Legionnaire’s disease.

The prison took precautions in specific areas following the outbreak, including installing shower filters in one unit and providing bottled water. A nearby youth correctional facility also took precautions.…