News and Views

May 24, 2019

NM officials await word from Air Force on PFAS contamination

Source: https://nmpoliticalreport.com, May 24, 2019
By: Laura Paskus

New Mexico officials find themselves stonewalled by the United States military over water contamination from two U.S. Air Force bases in the state.

In early May, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas and New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) Secretary James Kenney sent a letter to the U.S. Air Force over contamination, this time at Holloman Lake.

Previously, groundwater tests at Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis and Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo showed high concentrations of PFAS, or per and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

Even in small amounts, exposure to these toxic, human-manufactured chemicals increases the risk of testicular, kidney and thyroid cancer and problems like ulcerative colitis and pregnancy-induced hypertension. PFAS include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS).…

May 24, 2019

Family of U-Md. student who died of adenovirus files wrongful-death claim

Source: The Washington Post, May 23, 2019
Posted on: https://www.advisen.com

The family of an 18-year-old University of Maryland freshman who died of adenovirus in the fall has filed a notice of claim against the college, setting the stage for a possible lawsuit.

Ian Paregol said the death of his daughter, Olivia Shea Paregol, could have been prevented had the university disclosed that the virus was spreading through the College Park campus.

He notified the University of Maryland on Monday of the wrongful-death claim following a report by The Washington Post that revealed officials waited 18 days to tell students about the presence of adenovirus. More than 40 students would become sick, including 15 who were treated at hospitals. The university first acknowledged the virus on Nov. 19, the day after Olivia Paregol died.…

May 23, 2019

Perfluorinated Chemicals: A Rapidly Evolving Regulatory And Legal Risk Issue For Businesses

Source: http://www.mondaq.com, May 6, 2019
By: Jane Luxton, Amanda L. Tharpe and William Walsh, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP

A once obscure group of chemicals known as perfluorinated chemical substances (PFAS) have gripped national headlines in recent months, due to increasing concerns over potential health risks. PFAS have been used for many years in a wide variety of products, such as non-stick cookware, cleaning and coating solutions, paper, food packaging materials, fire-fighting foam, automotive applications, upholstery, and carpeting. These chemicals have been detected in groundwater and surface water across the country, and Congress, federal and state regulators, and litigants are all taking steps in response. With the ubiquity of PFAS uses and legacy contamination, many businesses face significant business risk, often unrealized or underestimated. This rapidly evolving area requires a close watch and serious consideration of risk management and reduction strategies.…

May 23, 2019

3M will pay Lake Elmo $2.7 million to settle yet another PFC lawsuit

Source: Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), May 22, 2019
Posted on: https://www.advisen.com

3M Co. has agreed to pay the city of Lake Elmo $2.7 million and give it 180 acres of farmland to settle the city’s nearly decades-old claims that the company’s PFC chemicals contaminated the city drinking water and forced costly fixes.

The settlement with the city, announced late Tuesday, comes 15 months after 3M made history by agreeing to pay the state of Minnesota $850 million to resolve the biggest environmental lawsuit in the state’s history.

Both the state and city lawsuits involve decadeslong allegations that 3M contaminated groundwater in the east metro area when its nonstick, PFC chemicals leaked or leached from tanks and landfills into local water supplies. 3M’s chemicals were used for decades to coat cookware and other products.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and state Department of Health have been investigating 3M’s potential PFC contamination since 2002. The chemicals were first found in drinking water in the eastern Twin Cities in 2004.…

May 23, 2019

Perfluorinated Chemicals: A Rapidly Evolving Regulatory And Legal Risk Issue For Businesses

Source: Mondaq Business Briefing, May 22, 2019
Posted on: https://www.advisen.com

A once obscure group of chemicals known as perfluorinated chemical substances (PFAS) have gripped national headlines in recent months, due to increasing concerns over potential health risks. PFAS have been used for many years in a wide variety of products, such as non-stick cookware, cleaning and coating solutions, paper, food packaging materials, fire-fighting foam, automotive applications, upholstery, and carpeting. These chemicals have been detected in groundwater and surface water across the country, and Congress, federal and state regulators, and litigants are all taking steps in response. With the ubiquity of PFAS uses and legacy contamination, many businesses face significant business risk, often unrealized or underestimated. This rapidly evolving area requires a close watch and serious consideration of risk management and reduction strategies.…

May 23, 2019

Mold discovery at Seattle Children’s Hospital closes operating rooms, officials say

Source: https://www.foxnews.com, May 22 2019
By: Stephen Sorace

Seattle Children’s Hospital closed several operating rooms and is contacting the families of about 3,000 children who’ve had recent procedures after a common type of mold was detected in the facility over the weekend, officials said.

Aspergillus mold was found in four of the 14 operating rooms following a routine check, hospital officials told The Seattle Times. The affected rooms will remain closed until further notice. Dozens of surgeries have been moved or rescheduled.

“Patient safety is our top priority, and we are taking this situation very seriously,” hospital spokeswoman Alyse Bernal said in a statement.

Aspergillus is a common mold found both indoors and outdoors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While most people breathe in the spores every day without getting sick, the mold poses a greater risk to those with compromised immune systems or lung disease. The mold can cause allergic reactions and infections in the lungs and other organs.

While the hospital said it believes the risk to surgical patients is “extremely low,” it is contacting those who’ve had surgical procedures in the past four months, the paper reported.

Hospital officials told KOMO News that staff are cleaning the affected areas and will work with an industrial hygienist to determine how the mold contaminated the operating rooms.

Two patients at the hospital have developed Aspergillus infections over the past year, KOMO reported. One of the patients died. Details on the cases couldn’t be shared because of health care privacy laws.…

May 21, 2019

Defects in west Denver homes highlight what can happen when development outpaces everything else

Source: https://denverite.com, May 20, 2019
By: Donna Bryson

The ensuing legal tangle calls into question how city building officials ensure that developers can meet the demand for housing — and do it safely.

After the city raised safety concerns so serious that new beams had to be installed to support a row of homes in Villa Park, the owners and their builder joined to sue the engineering company. The engineers in turn blamed the city and a company contracted to review building plans.

The legal tangle spelled out in Denver District Court papers is a matter of life or death for the small building firm and, at the very least, stress for the homeowners and the engineers. It also puts a spotlight on how Community Planning and Development is managing, amid Denver’s building frenzy, to ensure that developers can meet the demand for housing — and do it safely.

The pressure is strong to get permits issued so people can have houses and offices. In a 2017 report, the Denver auditor focused on the building permitting system, noting “Denver is growing quickly, and we want to ensure the process for planning projects is effectively meeting city objectives and efficient for customers.” The auditor’s recommendations on improving efficiency urged reviews to determine whether staffing and resources were sufficient. Safety was not a focus of the report, the most recent to look at permitting.…

May 21, 2019

Ongoing asbestos cleanup forces 2 New Orleans schools to spend another year at temporary spots

Source: https://www.theadvocate.com, May 19, 2019
By: Marta Jewson

Two New Orleans charter schools will spend a second year in temporary facilities as multimillion-dollar asbestos remediation jobs stretch into another school year. The schools — Lafayette Academy in Carrollton and Rosenwald Collegiate Academy in Algiers — had previously been expected to move into their permanent buildings this fall.

In a lawsuit filed Friday, the Orleans Parish School Board claims it has spent $5 million relocating schools and programs as a result of contractors’ mismanagement at Lafayette Academy’s South Carrollton Avenue building, which was closed last summer due to an asbestos release.

The Choice Foundation, which runs Lafayette charter school, is a co-plaintiff in the suit. The foundation says it has spent $1.3 million replacing possibly contaminated furniture and equipment at the campus.

Asbestos, a commonly used building material until the 1980s, is dangerous when its fibers becomes airborne. Many old schools may contain the fire-retardant material in floor tiles and adhesive, ceiling tiles and pipe insulation. It is generally safe unless renovations or other activities disturb the material.…

May 21, 2019

5 issues to consider on design/build projects

Source: https://www.propertycasualty360.com, May 20, 2019
By: Lawrence Moonan and Laila Santana

During National Building Safety Month, keep these tips in mind when planning your design/build projects.

May 20, 2019

Parents, kids protest development at site of old thermometer factory over mercury fears

Source: https://nypost.com, May 18, 2019
By: Melissa Klein

Lower Manhattan moms are feverishly fighting the Howard Hughes Corp. over its plans to dig up and develop the site of a former thermometer factory — possibly exposing school kids across the street to long-buried mercury.

They’re worried that work at the 400-space parking lot on Water Street near the South Street Seaport could release poisons into the air around city Peck Slip School and the private Blue School.

“This is the mother lode of mercury in here,” said area resident and activist Elaine Kennedy, who joined a protest in front of the Howard Hughes offices at the Seaport Thursday.

Children and parents marched from the two schools chanting “Children before profit! No more greed!”

“We are not going to surrender the health of our children,” city Comptroller Scott Stringer, whose son attended Peck Slip School, also known as PS 343, told the crowd.…