February 7, 2019

Oil cleanup continues after 200,000 gallon spill at Granite City plant

Source:, February 6, 2019
By: Denise Hollinshed

Cleanup continued Wednesday here after 200,000 gallons of used oil spilled from a company’s storage tanks, a portion of it contaminating nearby ground and the city sewer system, the Illinois Environment Protection Agency said.

The spill prompted the agency to seek an order banning storage of oil at the Future Environmental plant at 2101 Adams Street.

The agency said 500 to 1,000 gallons of the spilled oil escaped the plant’s secondary containment barrier. The oil was released from above-ground tanks at the facility, the Illinois EPA said. The spill was noticed when oil was spotted at a wastewater treatment plant.

“Absorbent booms were placed in the sewers and there is no impact to operations at the (treatment plant),” the agency said in a statement.

Some of the oil also reached a dirt-floor warehouse on a neighboring property, the agency said. The agency didn’t say what caused the spill or if it posed any health risks.…

February 7, 2019

Firefighting foam linked to water contamination across Massachusetts

Source:, February 7, 2019
By: Kathryn Burcham, Jason Solowski

State environmental officials are tracking an emerging threat to drinking water across Massachusetts linked to a firefighting foam used at military installations and airports.

“Back in 2012, 2013 we started showing these contaminates” said Dan Santos, director of the Barnstable Department of Public Works.

Testing revealed toxic levels of chemicals in the soil at the county fire and rescue training academy, only a few hundred yards from the town’s watershed. He says it was from years of use of Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) at the facility adjacent to the Barnstable Municipal Airport.

“When they use the firefighter foam to put out fires it goes on the ground. That foam which contains these chemicals seeps into the soil and binds to the soil particle and it stays there,” Santos said.

The Environmental Protection Agency recommends a level of 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for two chemical compounds – known as per and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS in drinking water.  Santos said they found numbers in the thousands in the soil at the fire training facility.…

February 7, 2019

Nebraska plant to pay $45M in pollution settlement

Source: Associated Press, February 6, 2019
Posted on:

A judge has approved a class-action settlement between Muscatine residents and a local factory that they blame for a noxious odor and haze and for causing health problems.

District Judge John Telleen on Tuesday approved the settlement over the Grain Processing Corporation plant, which makes corn-based products, The Muscatine Journal reported. The company agreed to pay $45 million to cover an estimated 14,000 claims and to spend $6.5 million on pollution controls at the Muscatine plant.

Residents sued the company in 2012, alleging that the plant was negligent with its emissions and the odor was a nuisance. The case later received class-action status.

GPC supports the settlement and believes it’s fair, said Joshua Frank, an attorney for the company. The company will continue to operate successfully in the area, he said.…

February 6, 2019


Source:, February 6, 2019

The fire manufacturer delayed releasing information about the contamination for four years

Tyco Fire Products, a Marinette, Wis., manufacturer of firefighting foam, knew there was soil and well contamination on its property dating back to October 2013, but failed to share the information with homeowners surrounding the property until November 2017, according to state records obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The site faces per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS) contamination in groundwater stemming from its use of firefighting foam.

According to Tyco, the company knew about the contamination on their property, but did not make the information public until they found it to spread beyond its 380-acre fire technology center. After discovering the spread, the company began supplying bottled water to residents surrounding the site with well water contamination and was ordered by the state of Wisconsin to investigate the problem.

February 6, 2019

Federal lawsuit filed over drinking water contamination on Whidbey

Source:, February 5, 2019
By: Jessie Stensland

Lawyers for a North Whidbey woman filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday against a manufacturing corporation and fire equipment companies they say are responsible for contamination of groundwater on the island with “highly toxic” chemicals found in a type of firefighting foam.

Testing by the Navy in recent years showed that wells near the Ault Field base on North Whidbey and Outlying Field Coupeville in Central Whidbey contained per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, collectively known as PFASs, that are present in aqueous film forming foam, or AFFF, used by Navy fire departments to extinguish aircraft fires.

The attorneys are seeking class action status and hope to add potentially thousands of other current and former Whidbey Island residents as plaintiffs in the lawsuit; the town of Coupeville is also a potential plaintiff, attorneys said.

The law firm Edelson of San Francisco and Seattle attorney Robert Teel are representing Krista Jackson is the lawsuit against the 3M Company, Tyco Fire Products, Buckeye Fire Equipment Company, Chemguard Inc. and National Foam Inc.…

February 6, 2019

Asbestos levels high and widespread in McGill; University of Montana conducts more analysis

Source:, February 5, 2019
By: Keila Szpaller

One surface test for asbestos in the McGill Hall preschool at the University of Montana showed 240,000 fibers per square centimeter on a shelf roughly three feet tall, according to GEM Environmental, Inc.

One at a higher level that would require an adult to use a ladder to reach hit 400,000 parts per square centimeter. But other lower shelves also registered high readings, according to an industrial hygienist with GEM, which has been testing in McGill Hall.

“I was just surprised by how high some of the high counts were,” said Christopher Casas, principal industrial hygienist and geologist with GEM, in a phone interview Tuesday.

Asbestos is a carcinogen, and when people breathe it, the fine particles settle in their lungs. The fibers can cause lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma even 10 to 40 years after exposure.…
February 6, 2019

Texas Jury Nails Frac Company with $101 Million Verdict

Source:, July 23, 2018

A jury verdict in a Texas court last week against an oil service company may have set the record for the largest civil penalty ever handed down in an accident involving a truck.

The $101 million verdict exceeds by about $10 million a penalty assessed against Werner Enterprises earlier this year.  At the time of the Werner decision, that was generally seen as one of the largest verdicts ever awarded against a trucking company.

The main defendant in the $101 million case is not per se a trucking company. It is FTS International, an oil services company with a fleet of trucks that includes trucks carrying sand and other material needed to frack a well. John Hull, an attorney with the firm of Goudarzi & Young, which represented the victim in the collision, said the FTS truck was carrying frac sand.

FTS stock Monday was down almost 5% at 12:50 p.m. (NYSE: FTSI)

All of the award was levied against FTS except for $50,000 levied against William Acker, the driver of the FTS truck. Hull, whose firm specializes in truck-related litigation, said he had never heard of a nine-figure award in a trucking-related personal injury case. The awards touted on the Goudarzi & Young website are all significantly less than the FTS verdict.…

February 5, 2019

Asbestos Found in University of Montana Building

Source:, February 4, 2019

Montana parents are demanding more information about high levels of asbestos found in a University of Montana building that housed a preschool.

The Missoulian reports that the university moved the preschool students to another building on Tuesday after test results found “unacceptable levels” of asbestos. The building, McGill Hall, was closed entirely on Thursday.

University officials say technicians believe the asbestos found in the preschool came through the air system as material in the building degraded over time.

Vice President for Administration and Finance Paul Lasiter said that the building may remain closed for months at a meeting on Thursday. Lasiter said ensuring safety and security is the university’s top priority.

A university spokeswoman says the school is working with experts to address the asbestos sources in the building.…

February 4, 2019

Cleanup of Montana coal train derailment could take weeks

Source:, February 1, 2019

A Montana rail company official says it will likely take weeks to clean up a coal train derailment that happened this week east of Bozeman.

Montana Rail Link spokesman Ross Lane tells the Bozeman Daily Chronicle that the company has started to remove coal, tainted soil and cars from the area near Rocky Creek where 39 rail cars derailed on Tuesday.

The crash completely emptied 33 cars of their cargo. Each car can carry 135 tons of coal.

Some spilled into the creek, a tributary of the East Gallatin River. Company officials say the coal was removed from the water and environmental contractors are monitoring the water quality.

Lane says the tracks reopened to train traffic early Thursday.

Montana Rail Link has not released a cause for the derailment.…

February 4, 2019

Which State’s Law Applies to Your Legacy Environmental Liability Claim?

Source:, January 30, 2019
By: John Fischer, Barnes & Thornburg LLP

It is a situation we have seen time and again, including in several recent matters: a policyholder headquartered in State A is pursued by the regulators in State B for investigating and cleaning up contamination at the policyholder’s facility located in State B. In the same circumstances and under the same policy language, the law of State A would require the carrier to cover the cost of the investigation and remediation, but the law of State B would not.

This drastic difference in outcome is common due to the sometimes vast differences in coverage law from state to state. The threshold question of which state’s law applies often makes all the difference between coverage and no coverage for contamination at a site that is in a different state from the state where the policyholder is based.

So, if environmental contamination claims are covered under the law of State A and the policyholder wants the law of State A to apply, should it sue its carrier in State A? Not necessarily. The substantive law of State A does not automatically apply to a suit filed in State A, because State B also has some connection to the coverage dispute.…