Claims – Pollution Legal Liability

May 23, 2019

Mold discovery at Seattle Children’s Hospital closes operating rooms, officials say

Source:, May 22 2019
By: Stephen Sorace

Seattle Children’s Hospital closed several operating rooms and is contacting the families of about 3,000 children who’ve had recent procedures after a common type of mold was detected in the facility over the weekend, officials said.

Aspergillus mold was found in four of the 14 operating rooms following a routine check, hospital officials told The Seattle Times. The affected rooms will remain closed until further notice. Dozens of surgeries have been moved or rescheduled.

“Patient safety is our top priority, and we are taking this situation very seriously,” hospital spokeswoman Alyse Bernal said in a statement.

Aspergillus is a common mold found both indoors and outdoors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While most people breathe in the spores every day without getting sick, the mold poses a greater risk to those with compromised immune systems or lung disease. The mold can cause allergic reactions and infections in the lungs and other organs.

While the hospital said it believes the risk to surgical patients is “extremely low,” it is contacting those who’ve had surgical procedures in the past four months, the paper reported.

Hospital officials told KOMO News that staff are cleaning the affected areas and will work with an industrial hygienist to determine how the mold contaminated the operating rooms.

Two patients at the hospital have developed Aspergillus infections over the past year, KOMO reported. One of the patients died. Details on the cases couldn’t be shared because of health care privacy laws.…

May 17, 2019

A dangerous delay

Source:, May 16, 2019
By: Jenn Abelson, Amy Brittain and Sarah Larimer

The University of Maryland waited 18 days to inform students of a virus on campus. That decision left vulnerable students like Olivia Paregol in the dark.

It had been six days since Olivia Shea Paregol walked out of the University of Maryland health center without an answer for why she felt so awful.

Now, the 18-year-old freshman was curled up in the fetal position on the floor of her dorm room at Elkton Hall in College Park, her brown hair resting on the shaggy white rug. She warned her friends, Sarah Hauk and Riley Whelan, to stay away from a plastic bag where she had just vomited.

The teenagers hoisted Olivia up and shuffled to the elevator. Once inside, Olivia leaned against the wall and slid to the floor.

“Don’t sit down,” Riley said. “Come on, it’s just a short ride. You can do this.”

“I literally can’t,” said Olivia, the words slicing her sore throat like knives. “I have to lay down.”

Olivia had been sick most of her first semester living in an overcrowded dorm that was infested with mold. But her symptoms now were far worse than a cough and congestion.

May 16, 2019

Frantic parents fear for kids after radioactive contamination found at Ohio middle school

Source:, May 16, 2019
By: Safia Samee Ali

“It’s so scary that my child has been exposed to this because I have no idea how it’s going to affect him,” one mother said.

Ashley Day has always worried about the health risks of living a few miles from a defunct nuclear power plant in Piketon, Ohio. So, when her son Kendon came home Monday and told her school had been canceled for the rest of the year, she had a sinking feeling there was a connection.

A few hours later, her fears were confirmed: The Scioto Valley Local School District declared in a letter that Zahn’s Corner Middle School would be shut down for the remainder of the school year because of possible radioactive contamination from the nearby Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, which the federal Department of Energy is in the process of decommissioning.

“I felt anxiety, anger, and paranoia all at once,” she said. “It’s so scary that my child has been exposed to this because I have no idea how it’s going to affect him.”

The district said enriched uranium and neptunium-237, highly carcinogenic radioactive chemicals, were detected not only inside the building but also at a Department of Energy air monitor adjacent to the school.…

April 23, 2019

Pollution cleanups planned for two dry cleaning sites

Source:, April 19, 2019
By: Brian Nearing

Toxic chemicals will be dug out of two vacant former dry cleaners sites in Schenectady and Watervliet, under plans announced by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The property around the former Admiral Cleaners, 617 19th St., Watervliet, and the former Kenwood Cleaners, 445 Duane Ave.,

Schenectady, are tainted with high levels of a carcinogenic dry cleaning solvent, tetrachloroethene (PCE), and related toxic byproducts.

Exposure to PCE likely increases cancer risk, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Primary effects from chronic, long-term inhalation exposure are neurological, including impaired cognitive and motor neurobehavioral performance, according to EPA.

PCE exposure may also “cause adverse effects in the kidney, liver, immune system and hematologic system, and on development and reproduction,” according to the EPA.

April 8, 2019

3M nears settlement with north Alabama water system over chemical pollution

Source:, April 4, 2019
By: Dennis Pillion

The West Morgan East Lawrence Water and Sewer Authority and chemical giant 3M are finalizing a settlement in a lawsuit over who will pay for a new multi-million dollar filtration system to remove industrial contaminants from the drinking water of thousands of people in north Alabama.

The amount of the settlement has not been disclosed, but the water authority had previously said the new filter system could cost $30-50 million.

The water authority’s suit asked 3M to pay for a new water filtration system to remove industrial chemicals that 3M manufactured and used for decades at its facility on the Tennessee River in Decatur. The water authority provides service directly or through other utilities for about 20,000 metered customers in north Alabama from an intake on the Tennessee River downstream of the 3M facility.

3M spokesperson Fanna Haile-Selassie confirmed that the company was “working to finalize a resolution” to the litigation.…

April 8, 2019

Air pollution from corn production might contribute to thousands of deaths each year

Source:, April 4, 2019
By: Alex Schwartz

The effects of agricultural practices on human health shouldn’t be overlooked.

Lend your “ears” to this: A new study published this week in Nature found that America’s corn belt could contribute to thousands of air pollution deaths a year.

Scientists at the University of Minnesota attributed around 4,300 premature American deaths annually to air pollution resulting from corn production. To do so, they modeled the emission impacts of producing corn and compared them to local pollution-related deaths—and they found a striking relationship.

“You think air quality and you think coal plants, and you think dirty diesel trucks,” says Jason Hill, an engineering professor at the University of Minnesota and the study’s lead author. “Certainly both of those are major contributors to reduced air quality, but corn production? Yes, that too.”

Corn is the most widely produced feed grain in the U.S., taking up over 90 million acres of farmland mainly located in the Midwest and Great Plains. Farmers grew over 14 billion bushels of it last year, most of which wasn’t even directly consumed by humans. Each year, around 90 percent goes to feeding livestock and producing ethanol. America is also the world’s largest exporter of corn and heavily subsidizes its production to keep prices low.…

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.…