Claims – Pollution Legal Liability

March 8, 2019

Pollution Exclusion Bars Insurance Coverage for Oil-Based Paint Fumes

Source:, March 7, 2019
By: Steven A. Meyerowitz

February 4, 2019

Brad Pitt’s post-Katrina housing project faces even more backlash after residents discover their homes are rotting and caving in

Source:, February 1, 2019

  • Brad Pitt’s ambitious housing project tried to rebuild a New Orleans neighborhood after Hurricane Katrina, but residents are now complaining that their homes are rotting, collapsing, and caving in.
  • The damages have generated multiple lawsuits, including one against Pitt and his foundation, Make It Right.
  • Pitt’s lawyers petitioned to have him removed from the suit, which has now moved to federal court.

Brad Pitt’s nonprofit foundation, Make It Right, started with the goal of helping New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. As the city’s Lower 9th Ward recovered from the deadly Category 5 storm in 2005, the foundation sought to satisfy its most pressing need: housing.

“We went into it incredibly naive,” Pitt told the New Orleans Times-Picayune in 2015. “Just thinking we can build homes — how hard is that?”

The project’s lofty goals, like equipping the homes with sustainable building materials and energy-saving appliances, were difficult to pull off.

Twelve years after the start of Make It Right, residents have reported that units are rotting, collapsing, and caving in. One told NBC News that mold and improper ventilation in her home caused a slew of health issues for her family, including respiratory infections, tremors, and memory problems.

January 21, 2019

Seattle recycling company settles lawsuit over Duwamish River pollution

Source:, January 18, 2019
By: Alison Morrow

A Seattle metals recycling facility has agreed to make over $1 million worth of improvements after a lawsuit argued it was discharging dangerous chemicals into the Duwamish River.

Last summer, Seattle Iron and Metals caught fire. Clean water activists were concerned the effort to stop the fire may have polluted the Duwamish River.
January 17, 2019

A $3 billion problem: Miami-Dade’s septic tanks are already failing due to sea rise

Source: Miami Herald, January 10, 2019
Posted on:

Miami-Dade has tens of thousands of septic tanks, and a new report reveals most are already malfunctioning — the smelly and unhealthy evidence of which often ends up in people’s yards and homes. It’s a billion-dollar problem that climate change is making worse.

As sea level rise encroaches on South Florida, the Miami-Dade County study shows that thousands more residents may be at risk — and soon. By 2040, 64 percent of county septic tanks (more than 67,000) could have issues every year, affecting not only the people who rely on them for sewage treatment, but the region’s water supply and the health of anyone who wades through floodwaters.

“That’s a huge deal for a developed country in 2019 to have half of the septic tanks not functioning for part of the year,” said Miami Waterkeeper Executive Director Rachel Silverstein. “That is not acceptable.”

Septic tanks require a layer of dirt underneath to do the final filtration work and return the liquid waste back to the aquifer. Older rules required one foot of soil, but newer regulations call for double that. In South Florida, there’s not that much dirt between the homes above ground and the water below.…

January 15, 2019

Polish motorway is covered in chocolate as tanker truck overturns

Source:, May 10, 2018
By: Mythili Sampathkumar

One local official says it has been a long time since police were smiling at the scene of an accident

A truck full of liquid chocolate has overturned on a motorway in Poland, spilling 12 tonnes of the sweet stuff all over the road.

Traffic was blocked in both directions of the A2 motorway between the towns of Wrzesnia and Slupca in Western Poland, according to the Associated Press. The road also connects the major cities of Poznan and Warsaw. No one was gravely injured as a result of the accident, but the driver of the lorry was taken to hospital with a broken arm.

It is not clear as yet what caused the tanker truck to overturn and fall onto its side across the median, or where it was ultimately headed. By the time cleanup crews had arrived the liquid had begun to solidify, making the operation more difficult, local police said.

Bogdan Kowalski of Slupca’s fire brigade said that “the cooling chocolate is worse than snow”. He also noted that in the initial moments after the accident there were some who drove their vehicles through the sticky liquid, spreading it for several kilometres along the road.

Marlena Kukawka, a media officer for the police in the small town of Slupca, told the New York Times it would take “hours” to clean the mess and fire brigades were using streams of hot water to remelt the chocolate in order to wash it away.

As the Washington Post reported about the local news station TVN24: “One of its reporters at the scene was walking along the edge of the shoulder to avoid the chocolate only to slip and fall into a ditch, where there was, indeed, more chocolate”.

On a positive note, Ms Kukawka said “it’s been a long time since I’ve seen so many smiles on the faces of emergency rescue folks and police officers at the scene of an accident”.

January 15, 2019

River of chocolate blocks traffic on Arizona highway after tanker carrying 40,000 pounds overturns: Authorities

Source:, January 14, 2019
By: Julia Jacobo

Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory isn’t the only place to house a river of chocolate.

A section of Interstate 40 near Flagstaff, Arizona, was covered in the cocoa confection after a tanker trailer carrying more than 40,000 pounds of the liquid overturned Monday morning around 9 a.m., Arizona Department of Public Safety Public Information Officer Bart Graves told ABC News.

The truck originated in Ontario, Canada, and was headed to Henderson, Nevada, Graves said. Authorities believe the tanker overturned after the latch between truck and the trailer became unsecured and the trailer became separated from the truck, Graves said.

Thousands of gallons of chocolate then spilled into the roadway and cleanup crews had to empty out the remaining contents from the trailer so they could lift it upright and tow it with a heavy-duty tow truck, Graves said.

Officials also shut down westbound lanes on Interstate 40 for about four hours, but the accident happened just beyond an off-ramp, so authorities were able to re-route traffic from there, Graves said.

No one was injured in the accident, but a truck-load of chocolate was wasted.

“This will be a sweet cleanup!” the Arizona DPS wrote on Twitter.

January 11, 2019

New lawsuit filed against Sands Resort over Legionella outbreak

Source:, January 10, 2019
by: Max Sullivan

Stephen Uliano had no idea where he contracted pneumonia this summer until he read a news story two months later about a Legionnaire’s disease outbreak at Hampton Beach.

Now Uliano, who came to Hampton Beach with his girlfriend from New York this July, has filed the seventh lawsuit brought against the Sands Resort for negligence in exposing him to Legionella, alleging it caused his seven-day hospitalization at Portsmouth Regional Hospital. The suit was filed Wednesday in Rockingham Superior Court against the Sands ownership, as well as Aqua Paradise Pools & Spas, which installed and maintained its hot tub.

State and federal officials say 19 people came down with Legionnaire’s disease while visiting the beach between June 10 and Aug. 26, one person dying afterwards, and they said last year the Sands was considered a likely source of the bacteria that causes the rare form of pneumonia.…

January 11, 2019

Long-term use of airport tank farm leads to soil and groundwater contamination


A small airport serving as a regional transportation/shipping hub was owned by a local municipality and operated by a single FBO. They used a tank farm from the 1940s through 2013, which led to discovery of significant soil and groundwater contamination during replacement of aboveground fuel tanks and underground piping. The release was reported to the state regulatory agency and soil remediation was deemed necessary prior to installation of new fuel tanks. The extent of groundwater contamination was unknown.

AXA XL’s claims team retained a consultant to respond to the regulatory agency and prepare a remediation work plan, which allowed the new tank erection to proceed without further delay. Soil excavation and confirmation sampling was completed around old tank and piping areas. The regulatory agency also
required additional groundwater monitoring wells to assess the extent of contamination. Because the airport was in a more remote region, this resulted in higher remediation costs due to increased professional time and materials fees. The extent of VOC groundwater contamination was defined and found to be
localized. Cost of the remediation was capped to just slightly under $1 million, but just as importantly, responsive claim handling allowed the airport to continue operations and avoid any business interruption expenses.…

January 11, 2019

Storage and repair of older, radium-containing aircraft instruments


Based on recent US EPA guidance, an airport determined that one of its FBO tenants, an avionics repair firm, had a large amount of potentially radioactive aircraft instruments stored in their warehouse for many years. The luminescent paint used in these aircraft instruments (new and used) contained radium, which
continued to emit measurable radiation and pose potential health hazards. These instruments were mixed together with thousands of other aircraft parts in the warehouse. The state regulatory agency inspected the site, and a primary concern cited was the potential for a catastrophic fire to result in ingestion/inhalation of radium smoke/soot and generation of contaminated fire-fighting water.

The tenant could not afford to sort and dispose of the radium-contaminated instruments and filed for bankruptcy. The state regulatory agency notified the airport of impending enforcement action and the airport decided it was necessary to dispose of the instruments as low level radioactive waste. An AXA XL technical
consultant worked with the airport to determine the level of risk and appropriate disposal requirements. A third-party consultant was hired to assist with proper hazard identification and disposal of the radium instruments. All costs and expenses associated with the consulting services and instrument disposal fell within the airport’s self-insured policy retention of $500,000.…

January 11, 2019

Use of de-icing fluids impacts wetland


An airport in the northern United States routinely used propylene glycol for de-icing activities, which were performed by several FBOs at multiple locations. Long term use of the de-icing agent resulted in offsite discharges including impacts to an adjacent wetland. Further, the local regulatory authority reduced the stormwater discharge limits for parameters such as the biological oxygen demand (BOD), which resulted in routine exceedances. The airport considered a centralized de-icing area, but due to the physical constraints of the airport, this was deemed impractical and expensive. Faced with significant fines and a potential consent order, the airport was forced to take action so flight operations were not impacted.

AXA XL’s environmental claims counsel and a technical consultant worked with the FBOs and airport to prepare a plan for smaller de-icing areas with an improved collection system. Discharges were routed to a central engineered wetland to provide passive treatment of the propylene glycol and meet storm water permit requirements. Construction of the engineered wetland and storm water conveyance systems cost under $2 million and saved the airport from over $13 million in non-compliance costs and fines. This was accomplished with limited disruption to airport operations and no impact to flight schedules. The FBOs incurred some legal defense expense and a portion of the construction expense.…