Habitational

September 5, 2018

Methane Explosion Injures 10, Collapses Roof at Chicago Area Water Reclamation Plant

Source: https://www.enr.com, August 30, 2018
By: Jeff Yoders

UPDATE: Worker’s torch set off methane explosion

The roof of the sludge concentration building at Chicago’s Calumet Water Reclamation Plant collapsed after an explosion Aug. 30 around 11 a.m. Ten people were hurt and successfully evacuated to area hospitals for treatment by the Chicago Fire Dept. The plant is located in south suburban Riverside and is the oldest of the seven Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago wastewater treatment facilities. It opened in 1922 and provides wastewater treatment to approximately 1 million homes and businesses in southern Cook County.

According to a statement from the city/county agency, two people were trapped and were extricated from the building by Chicago Fire Department emergency crews and transported to local hospitals along with the other eight injured personnel. Firefighters to had to tunnel more than 40 ft through the rubble to extract one of the trapped, injured workers; that rescue took nearly two hours.…

August 10, 2018

Contractor fights faulty Portsmouth housing construction claims

Source: http://www.seacoastonline.com, August 3, 2018
By: Elizabeth Dinan

A contractor accused in a federal lawsuit of faulty construction at the 100-unit Wamesit Place housing complex filed a court motion denying liability, while reporting if it is found liable, so too should five other contractors who worked there.

The lawsuit was filed by Portsmouth attorney John Bosen, on behalf of the Wamesit Place Family Housing Limited Partnership, and claims poor construction caused mold to grow in apartments, that firewalls “are inadequate and/or nonexistent throughout the apartments” and remediation will require a “massive” amount of work and the temporary relocation of some residents.

One of the defendants, Portland Builders, filed a July 30 notice with the U.S. District Court of New Hampshire stating it was contract manager in 2011 and 2012 for renovations that included roofs, windows, doors and siding at homes throughout the neighborhood. The contractor reiterates Wamesit’s claim that defects were discovered, beginning in 2015, that led to mold and the discovery of code violations.

Portland Builders, in its new court filing, states it performed its work according to the scope of its agreement with Wamesit, but if a jury finds it liable for damages, it will ask a jury to share responsibility with Goduti-Thomas Architects, Veteran’s Construction, Eastern Mechanical, Corey Electric, Bio Environments and an unknown cable company.

The contractor alleges the Portland, Maine, architect designed the plans and specifications it followed and the construction company was contracted to “perform services related to the firewalls.” The mechanical company performed plumbing and ventilation work at Wamesit, the electric company installed bathroom ventilation fans and the environmental company conducted mold testing and remediation. The unknown cable (or security) company did work at the housing complex after Portland Builders was done, which “damaged firewalls,” the contractor’s court motion claims.

Based on those allegations, Portland Builders reports to the court that it “is entitled to have the jury apportion liability during the trial of this matter.”

Wamesit’s amended suit filed in April reports that between 2015 and 2017, mold was found in apartments, “that is growing due to the condensation of humid exhaust air accumulating and saturating insulation in ceilings and attics.” Mold remediation was conducted by third parties and before insulation could be replaced, it would have to remove all insulation, including in building overhangs, and clean all surfaces in ceilings and attics. All ceiling drywall will also have to be replaced and proper re-insulation will be needed, in addition to new bathroom fans and duct work to roof vents, it’s alleged.

Tenants in the apartments will need to be temporarily relocated during the repairs and Wamesit seeks an unspecified monetary award to cover related costs. Wamesit is alleging breach of contract and negligence in the federal suit.

Portland Builders previously countered that change orders eliminated attic insulation, ventilation “and other work that was part of the original contract.”

The Portsmouth Housing Authority manages the Wamesit Place apartments on Greenleaf Avenue and its director, Craig Welch, previously told the Portsmouth Herald he can’t discuss the pending litigation and he assured no residents’ health is at risk.…

July 12, 2018

Toxic soil claims stall San Francisco shipyard development

Dive Brief:

  • Kofi Bonner, co-chief operating officer of Five Point Holdings, developer of the Hunters Point Shipyard/Candlestick Point project on and around the site of a former U.S. Navy shipyard in San Francisco, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the project will be delayed for years due to uncertainty around potentially radioactive soil that is scaring off investors and potential homebuyers.
  • Developers still aim to build more than 12,000 homes, 300 acres of parks, offices, schools and retail developments on the site, but many of those plans were stymied after claims that soil tests and cleanup records completed for the property were falsified. Two former employees of Tetra Tech, which was hired to perform the environmental work under a $250 million contract, pleaded guilty to fabricating soil-related documentation and were sentenced to prison. The Navy, which still has possession of the Hunters Point property, with the exception of one section, Parcel A — which was supposedly never exposed to the Navy’s radiological operations at the shipyard — will not release the land to the city or developers until the soil gets the all-clear through retesting. Officials said they will start testing Parcel A as well.
  • Lennar has built approximately 450 homes on Parcel A, where residential construction continues. Bonner said the company will focus on the Candlestick Point portion of the development, where site and utility work is currently underway without the shadow of potentially toxic soil. Approximately 7,200 residential units, 300,000 square feet of commercial development and a 200-room hotel have been approved for the site, according to Bisnow, but the company in April scuttled plans for a 635,000-square-foot shopping mall, citing a downturn in the brick-and-mortar retail market.
April 25, 2018

GAS LEAK IN SAN FRANCISCO HARMS 16

Source: http://norcal.news, April 25, 2018
By: Bethany Klein

When most people think of environmental disasters in the San Francisco Bay Area, they almost certainly think of earthquakes, seeing that there are two major fault lines near San Francisco.

However, even though earthquakes can wreak immeasurable, unpredictable havoc, they are certainly not always to blame for sending people to hospitals.

Gas leaks are.

On Monday, April 23, 2018, a gas leak at a homeless shelter at roughly 11 a.m. Pacific Savings Time caused people to feel severely nauseous. Construction workers had been digging in an alleyway right before the leak started spreading gas vapor throughout the area with.…

March 21, 2018

Contractors strikes gas main in Mercer County

Source: http://6abc.com, March 19, 2018

A contractor struck a six-inch gas main in Hamilton Township, Mercer County on Monday.

Calls starting coming in around 1 p.m. for a strong smell of gas in the area of the township known as Five Points.

The intersection was closed and traffic was being diverted through the neighborhoods.

Chopper 6 was over the scene as workers fixed the main.

No injuries have been reported.…

February 2, 2018

2017 Construction Industry Silica Standards Are Here to Stay

Source: https://www.lexology.com, January 24, 2018
By: Smith Currie & Hancock

In 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) published its final rule lowering the permissible silica exposure level (“PEL”) from 250 µg/m3 to 50 µg/m3. In response, OSHA received petitions from both a collection of industry petitioners (“Industry”) arguing that OSHA made the regulation too stringent and several union petitions (“Unions”) arguing that OSHA failed to make the regulation stringent enough to protect workers. On December 22, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected all of the industry’s challenges to the regulation. See N. Am.’s Bldg. Trades Unions v. Occupational Safety & Health Admin., No. 16-1105, 2017 WL 6543858 (D.C. Cir. Dec. 22, 2017). The court further held that OSHA failed to adequately explain its decision to omit medical removal protections from the regulation and remanded the issues for further consideration.

At the forefront of the court’s opinion, it outlines 29 U.S.C. §655(f), “the substantial evidence standard”, under which OSHA only needed to provide substantial evidence to uphold the requisite threshold finding of a significant risk of material health impairment that will be reduced by the new PEL (50 µg/m3). Under this standard, while OSHA must rely upon a “body of reputable scientific thought” when assessing risk, it is not required to “calculate the exact probability of harm” or support its findings with anything approaching scientific certainty.” [pg 8]. “OSHA is not precluded from relying on imperfect evidence so long as it ‘recognize[s] and account[s] for the methodological weaknesses’ of the evidence.” [pg 14]. The basis of the court’s holding is that the Industry failed to demonstrate how OSHA failed to meet its substantial evidentiary burden.…

September 19, 2017

Neighbors Furious Home With Asbestos Was Demolished Without Safety Precautions

Source: http://boston.cbslocal.com, September 18, 2017
By: Ken MacLeod

There are health concerns in a Wilmington neighborhood after a construction crew started tearing down a house filled with asbestos, without following the proper safety procedures.

The issue was so bad; the Department of Environmental Protection was summoned to oversee things. When neighbors complained, it did bring about change.

Dave Norton worries about his granddaughter and his neighbors after the demolition triggered a cloud of asbestos dust.…

June 27, 2017

Condo liability law loosened

Source: http://www.duluthnewstribune.com, June 25, 2017
By: Brooks Johnson

A homeowners association is suing the developer, builder and manager of the Superior Vista condominiums, among others, claiming the Mesaba Avenue complex was not properly built and ought to be repaired under warranty.

“Many areas of the building were not built to applicable building code, industry standard and/or engineering specifications … all of which is allowing for excessive water intrusion, deterioration and decay,” reads the suit by the Superior Vista Homeowners Association filed in St. Louis County District Court last fall.

It’s exactly the kind of suit that some say has discouraged new condo development in recent years, and one that could become less common due to a change in state law that passed the Legislature earlier this year.

“The number of townhomes and condos being built have dramatically dropped, in part because of this legal landscape,” said David Siegel, executive director of the Builders Association of the Twin Cities. “If the liability is so great, and the costs are so great, we’re just going to stay away.”

Legislation pushed by Siegel’s group aims to slow down the liability lawsuits by requiring homeowner association membership to vote on such suits; require a maintenance record kept by the association; and mandate mediation before a suit is launched.

“We needed to put guardrails in,” Siegel said. “We don’t want to take away the ability to remedy the problems, but there are less expensive solutions that can solve the problems.”

June 27, 2017

Dakota Access builder bungling Ohio pipe

Source: http://www.journalgazette.net, June 25, 2017
By: Catherine Traywick

Energy Transfer Partners is making a mess of its biggest project since the Dakota Access pipeline.

Construction of the $4.2 billion Rover natural gas line has caused seven industrial spills, polluted fragile Ohio wetlands and angered local farmers. The company owes $1.5 million in restitution after demolishing a historic house.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is furious and a federal energy regulator has launched a rare public investigation that threatens to delay the pipeline’s scheduled Nov. 1 completion.

“We’ve not seen a project in Ohio with spills at this size and scale, and if we can’t even trust Rover to construct this pipeline, how can we trust them to operate it when it’s complete?” said Heather Taylor-Miesle, executive director of the Ohio Environmental Council.

Energy Transfer, the Dallas-based company led by billionaire Kelcy Warren, promised part of the 713-mile pipeline would open in July, but work is stalled on key segments until the company’s responsibility for the spills can be assessed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC.

“We are working with FERC and the OEPA to resolve these issues in a manner that is satisfactory to everyone involved, and most importantly ensures the complete remediation of these areas,” said Energy Transfer spokeswoman Alexis Daniel. Recent developments have not affected the project’s timeline, Daniel said.

Any delay would pinch natural gas producers that contracted to ship on the line, which will bring resources from the Marcellus shale to the Midwest.…

June 22, 2017

What turned Ellerbee Creek orange?

Source: http://www.heraldsun.com, June 21, 2017
By: Virginia Bridges

City officials think the substance that turned part of Ellerbee Creek an oily orange last week may have been due to a city contractor’s mistake.

A city investigation found a city contractor improperly rerouted water meant to go to the city’s sanitary sewer system to a stormwater line, which flows into the creek. Contractor Crowder Construction was working at the Williams Water Treatment Plant on Hillandale Road.

City officials started looking into the issue Thursday, June 15, after receiving a report of the creek’s discoloration on the city’s stormwater hotline, where people can report pollution. The roughly 20-mile-long creek flows into Falls Lake, Raleigh’s primary drinking water supply.

Patrick Hogan, a city water quality technician, said the substance resembled a naturally occurring iron-oxide bacteria rarely found in a flowing stream.

Hogan walked the creek and found a break in the color near an outfall pipe, he said. He looked at maps of the drainage network, which led him to the treatment plant and the improperly routed pipe.