Articles

April 25, 2019

PFAS contamination is Michigan’s biggest environmental crisis in 40 years

Source: https://www.freep.com, April 25, 2019
By: Keith Matheny

These once-common chemicals are linked to cancer and a host of other ailments. And they may be tainting more than 11,000 sites around Michigan.

Sandy Wynn-Stelt knows it’s too late for herself. The chemicals she drank for perhaps 25 years out of her tap — the ones that now poison her blood at levels 750 times the average American’s — will remain inside her body.

They may naturally work their way out over years, toxicologists say. But no one can tell Wynn-Stelt definitively what her prolonged exposure to massive levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — PFAS, the emerging contaminant causing a rising crisis across Michigan and the country — will mean for her future health.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory level in drinking water for two of the most common PFAS compounds, known as PFOS and PFOA, is 70 parts per trillion. The levels in Wynn-Stelt’s drinking water tested as high as 76,000 parts per trillion.

Michigan may have more than 11,000 sites contaminated with these once-common chemicals, now linked to cancer and a host of other ailments. Regulators have identified 46 sites statewide with levels above the EPA’s health limit in groundwater.…

April 24, 2019

Georgia-Pacific wants to spread the blame for Parchment PFAS pollution

Source: https://www.mlive.com, April 23, 2019
By: Garret Ellison

In a class action lawsuit filing, Georgia-Pacific is pointing the finger at Michigan regulators and several businesses it says may be at fault for the Parchment water contamination emergency, which affected 3,000 people and has since forced the suburban city to hand its municipal system over to neighboring Kalamazoo.

In the April 19 filing, Georgia-Pacific alleges the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, or DEQ, (now renamed EGLE), “failed to repair and operate a vandalized lift station needed for leachate collection” at a landfill blamed for the PFAS in Parchment water.

Georgia-Pacific’s “nonparty at fault” list also named Cooper Township, which assumed ownership of the landfill in 2011 after the bankruptcy of Crown Vantage Corp. Named private sector parties include Hercules Inc., Hydro-Extrusion North America and AbsolutAire.

The class action case was filed in November against Georgia-Pacific and Minnesota giant 3M in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids. Three Parchment residents, David Dykehouse, Kristina Boskovich and Elizabeth Hamblin, are seeking financial compensation and funding to evaluate the health of others exposed to PFAS.…

April 24, 2019

Past Pollution, and How to Pay for It

Source: https://www.ehstoday.com, April 23, 2019
By: David L. Elkind, Anderson Kill P.C.

Almost any manufacturer can face environmental liability. The liability may stem from the nature of the product being manufactured, but it also may derive from chemicals used to clean the manufacturing equipment, changes made to the product after it leaves the manufacturer’s hands—or, in the case of a chemical manufacturer, in the way its product ultimately is used.

Often, liability emerges for underground pollution that began decades ago and may have continued for years or decades. The fact that the activities were legal at the time—and the manufacturer not negligent then—are irrelevant. Under federal and state environmental laws, liability arises today based on current environmental concerns—and liability is strict, meaning without negligence or fault. Cleanup often is required of chemicals exceeding standards of parts per million or even billion, levels that may not have been capable of being measured when the manufacturing occurred.

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

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.…