Source: https://denverite.com, May 20, 2019
By: Donna Bryson
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.…
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.…
Source: https://www.irmi.com, September 2015
By: Kent Holland
Where a natural gas pipe exploded due to construction workers disturbing it while working on an excavation project, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held that the resulting bodily injury and property damage was caused by a “pollution condition,” i.e., the escape of the natural gas, and that the contractor’s pollution liability (CPL) policy was required to pay defense and indemnity costs.
In Acuity v. Chartis Specialty Ins. Co., 861 N.W.2d 533 (Wis. 2015), Acuity Insurance was the commercial general liability (CGL) insurer for the contractor, and Chartis was the CPL insurer. Acuity defended and indemnified the contractor in four lawsuits seeking recovery for bodily injury and property damage caused by the natural gas-fueled explosion and fire. Acuity then sought recovery from Chartis, asserting that the CPL policy provided coverage for the damages because it was caused by a pollution condition.
The trial court found in favor of Acuity against Chartis—concluding that Chartis breached its duties of defense and indemnification. That decision was reversed by an intermediate state court of appeals, holding that the bodily injury (BI) and property damage (PD) were “due only to the explosion and fire, not to contacts with the escaped natural gas itself because the gas intrinsically is an ‘irritant’ or ‘contaminant’….” That decision in turn was reversed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in the decision that is reported in this article.…
Source https://www.irmi.com, July 2014
By: Kent Holland
A Wisconsin appeals court found that an insurer’s duty to defend under a contractors pollution liability (CPL) policy was not triggered by an explosion caused when a contractor hit a natural gas line. The court explained that the CPL policy only covered property damage and personal injury due to direct contact with a contaminant—such as natural gas—not from an explosion due to the leaked contaminant.
The case was brought by another insurer (Acuity) that provided the same contractor with a commercial general liability (CGL) policy that did cover damage from the explosion. Based on the decision, the CGL insurer could not require the CPL insurer to share in the costs of defense and indemnification. See Acuity v. Chartis Specialty Ins. Co.,353 Wis. 2d 554, 846 N.W.2d 34 (Wis. App. 2014).
Four consolidated lawsuits were brought by several plaintiffs against a contractor, Dorner, Inc., following an explosion that occurred when Dorner employees hit an underground natural gas line. The ruptured line caused an explosion and fire that destroyed a church, damaged nearby houses, and injured two employees of an electric utility company.
The contractor had a CPL policy issued by Chartis Specialty Insurance and a CGL policy issued by Acuity. Acuity provided defense and indemnification to the contractor, settling the lawsuits for about $1.5 million, plus defense costs of almost $300,000. However, from the outset, Acuity contended that Chartis was required to share in the defense and indemnification costs under its CPL policy. Chartis denied that its policy was triggered, prompting Acuity’s suit in circuit court against Chartis for breach of the policy.
Source: https://www.fireengineering.com, February 6, 2019
A gas explosion in a San Francisco neighborhood shot flames into the air for hours Wednesday and burned five buildings, sending panicked residents and workers fleeing into the streets.
It took utility crews more than two hours to put out the fire after private construction workers cut a natural gas line, igniting the towering flames, Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said. Authorities initially said five workers were missing, but the entire construction crew was found safe, and no other injuries were reported.
Officials evacuated several nearby buildings, including a medical clinic and apartment buildings, Hayes-White said. Vehicles on a busy street got rerouted as authorities cordoned off the bustling retail and residential neighborhood.
The fire damaged a building housing Hong Kong Lounge II, a popular dim sum restaurant frequented by tourists and students at the University of San Francisco that made many “best of” lists.…
Source: https://www.enr.com, August 30, 2018
By: Jeff Yoders
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.…
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.…
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.…
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.…