November 27, 2018

Delaware Memorial Bridge: Gas leak prompted fears of car fires, chemical exposure

Source:, November 26, 2018
By: Maddy Lauria, Karl Baker and Josephine Peterson

It remains unclear what caused flammable toxic gas to seep into the air from Croda Inc.’s bio-ethanol plant north of New Castle Sunday night, but experts say the decision to close the Delaware Memorial Bridge was the safest bet.

The incident shut down traffic on the bridge for eight and a half hours, the end of the busy Thanksgiving travel weekend.

Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Shawn Garvin said there were two threats: There were people nearby who could have inhaled the carcinogenic gas, called ethylene oxide, and, it simply could have caught on fire and spread to the cars on the nearby interstate.

“The flammability of it was an issue with it being that close to the bridge and to (Interstate) 295,” he said. ‘It’s more flammable than combustible.”

The structure of the bridge did not appear to be at risk, he said.

Holloway Terrace Fire Chief Mark Willis said a Hazmat crew responded to Croda Inc. in New Castle at about 4 p.m. on Sunday after employees first discovered the leak.

Crews used more than 30,000 feet of hoses to spray water into the air to dissipate the chemical gas, Deputy Chief Rob Snyder said.…

October 5, 2018

Dayton suing firefighting foam makers after water safety worries

Source: Dayton Daily News, October 4, 2018
Posted on:

The city of Dayton will sue the makers of firefighting foam in the wake of chemicals found in the water systems here and in other cities around the country.

City officials announced the lawsuit today in an afternoon press conference.

“It is our duty to protect the public health, safety and welfare and environment of our residents and the surrounding region,” Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said.

The defendants named in the suit are 3M Company, Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co., Buckeye Fire Equipment Company, Chemguard Inc., Tyco Fire Products L.P., and National Foam Inc.

About 1,500 drinking water systems across the country serving roughly 110 million Americans may be contaminated by PFAS, formally known as Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances, according to a recent analysis by the Environmental Working Group. About 400,000 people in the area get their drinking water from Dayton wells either through the city’s distribution system or one operated by Montgomery County.…

February 15, 2018

Minnesota vs. 3M: A guide to the $5 billion mega-trial

Source:, February 11, 2018
By: Bob Shaw

Call it the $5 billion Teflon trial — Minnesota’s biggest environmental lawsuit ever.

When the trial of the State of Minnesota vs. 3M Co. starts Feb. 20, it will pit the state against what may be its most-loved company. The state attorney general will be taking on a $145 billion corporate behemoth and charging it with fouling the state’s water.

The lawsuit hinges on the alleged damage caused by chemicals found in household items such as nonstick cookware and stain repellent.

The state says the chemicals were made by 3M, dumped by 3M and consumed by 67,000 local water-drinkers and have now spread around the world. 3M, according to Attorney General Lori Swanson, should abide by the Pottery Barn rule: “If you break it, you pay for it.”

3M says the chemicals are indeed widespread — but harmless. Ultra-high concentrations do cause diseases in laboratory animals, it says, but it’s not possible that the parts-per-trillion traces in water have hurt humans, fish or even plants.

The trial, says 3M, is about a bogus health scare.

A key element of the trial will be the alleged 3M coverup. The state says 3M knew the chemicals caused cancer and didn’t tell health officials. 3M says it did tell officials — and for more than 50 years kept them informed about every aspect of its chemical testing and disposal.

The trial is expected to last six weeks.…

August 31, 2017

Harvey aftermath: More chemical fires possible as city loses clean water

Source:, August 31, 207
By: Nicole Chavez and Holly Yan

A spate of unexpected disasters are gripping Texas cities nearly a week after Hurricane Harvey slammed into the coast.

The entire city of Beaumont has no running water after both of its water pumps failed. And they won’t be fixed until the floodwater has receded.

In Crosby, plumes of black smoke billowed from a flooded chemical plant — with more blasts possible.

And in Houston, where authorities will go door-to-door to search for victims Thursday, residents near the Barker Reservoir must flee immediately as the massive pool of water is at imminent risk of overflowing and overwhelming their homes.

More chemical plant fires possible

A pair of blasts at the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby sent plumes of smoke into the sky Thursday morning — and more could follow.

“We want local residents to be aware that product is stored in multiple locations on the site, and a threat of additional explosion remains,” Arkema said in a statement. “Please do not return to the area within the evacuation zone until local emergency response authorities announce it is safe to do so.”…

August 30, 2017

Lead-Based Paint Is a “Pollutant” within CGL Pollution Exclusion

Source:, August 2017
By: Kent Holland

Where lead-based paint was ingested by a tenant’s child, the tenant sued her landlord for injuries allegedly sustained by the child. The landlord tendered the claim to its commercial general liability (CGL) insurer who, instead of defending the case, filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a determination that the pollution exclusion of the CGL policy barred coverage for the alleged injuries. The Owner held that, although not specifically listed in the pollution definition as a “pollutant,” lead-based paint is, in fact, a “pollutant” within the meaning of the policy. The policy’s pollution exclusion was, therefore, applicable, and the insurer had no duty to defend and indemnify the landlord. See Georgia Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. v. Smith, 298 Ga. 716, 784 S.E.2d 422 (2016).

The terms of the CGL policy required the insurer “to pay those sums that the insured becomes legally obligated to pay as damages because of ‘bodily injury’ or ‘property damage’” … “only if: (1) the ‘bodily injury’ or ‘property damage’ is caused by an ‘occurrence’ that takes place ….” An occurrence is defined as “an accident.” Coverage was subject to exclusions, including the pollution exclusion, which provided that the insurance does not apply to “(1) ‘[b]odily injury’ or ‘property damage’ arising out of the actual, alleged or threatened discharge, dispersal, seepage, migration, release or escape of ‘pollutants’: (a) [a]t or from any premises, site or location which is or was at any time owned or occupied by, or rented or loaned to, any insured.”…

August 8, 2017

DuPont to Settle Environmental Lawsuits for Millions

Read here about almost $400 million in environmental lawsuits that DuPont has agreed to settle.…

April 21, 2017

Lost Insurance Policy? Pursuing Coverage for Long-Tail Environmental Liability Still Feasible

Source:, April 20, 2017
By: John H. Kazanjian and Nicole B. Weinstein, Beveridge & Diamond PC

Companies facing environmental cleanup liability typically confront claims that are brought multiple decades after the alleged polluting activity took place. This passage of time often results in the loss or disappearance of crucial historic documents, including insurance policies, necessary to respond to the claims. Historic general liability insurance policies issued before pollution exclusions became commonplace in the 1970s are of particular value in protecting a company from exposure to “long-tail” environmental liability. Finding these policies, or evidence of their existence, therefore is a must. A recent New Jersey federal court decision serves as a helpful reminder that when the actual policies cannot be located, even limited documentary evidence of their existence, when buttressed by the expert testimony of a credentialed insurance archaeologist, may be sufficient to prove the coverage and facilitate recovery.

In E.M. Sergeant Pulp & Chemical Co., Inc. v. Travelers Indemnity Co., Inc., Civ. No. 12-1741, 2015 WL 9413094 (D.N.J. Jan. 17, 2017), the plaintiff policyholder was seeking insurance coverage for defense and indemnity relating to environmental pollution claims arising out of a New Jersey site. The policyholder, a distributor of heavy industrial inorganic chemicals and raw materials, owned property in Newark from 1942 to 1984. In 2004, the United States Environmental Protection Agency notified the policyholder that it was a Potentially Responsible Party (“PRP”) with respect to the Diamond Alkali Superfund Site. In 2009, the policyholder was sued as a third-party defendant in a lawsuit alleging property damage caused by environmental pollution from activities occurring 50-75 years ago.…

March 9, 2017

Talc maker wins asbestos coverage under occurrence policy, loses on exclusion

Source:, March 8, 2017
By: Gavin Souter

In a complex insurance coverage dispute over alleged asbestos-related claims arising out of industrial talc use and production, a Connecticut appeals court ruled on Monday that a policyholder who previously bought occurrence-based coverage should not be deemed uninsured for long-tail liability claims during years when only limited claims-made liability coverage was available.

But in a precedent-setting victory for the insurers in the case, a panel of the Appellate Court of Connecticut in Hartford ruled that occupational disease exclusions cover workers at firms using a policyholder’s products in addition to the policyholders’ own employees.

The case, R.T. Vanderbilt Co. Inc. v. Hartford Accident and Indemnity Co. et al., pits the Norwalk, Connecticut-based chemical manufacturer against more than 20 general liability and umbrella and excess liability insurers who had insured Vanderbilt over a 60-year period dating back to 1948.

Vanderbilt began to produce industrial talc through its subsidiary Gouverneur Talc Co. in 1948 and continued to mine and sell talc until 2008, when it ceased production and sold off the last of its inventory, the ruling states.…

January 5, 2017

DuPont ordered to pay $2 million after jurors found ‘actual malice’ in suit over chemical linked to cancer

Source:, December 21, 2016
By: Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

DuPont was ordered on Wednesday to pay $2 million after a jury found the company liable for diseases linked to a Teflon-making chemical, Reuters reported.

The multinational chemical giant will pay a man who said he developed testicular cancer from exposure to a toxic chemical leaked from one of the company’s plants, according to the plaintiff’s lawyer Robert Bilott.

Bilott said the Ohio jurors found “actual malice,” raising a possibility of additional punitive damages in DuPont’s case, according to Reuters.

The verdict is the third time DuPont has been found liable for diseases linked to perfluorooctanoic acid, known as PFOA or C-8, which is used to make Teflon, the nonstick coating on pots and pans.
“Additional trials are expected, and they will be defended on an individual basis under the facts and circumstances of each case,” Cynthia Salitsky, Chemours spokesperson, said in a statement.

She continued: “This type of litigation typically takes place over many years, and interim results do not predict the final outcome of cases. It is important to note that DuPont is the named defendant in each of the cases and is liable for any judgment. We will have further comments when the trial is over.”

DuPont is likely to face between 250 and 300 lawsuits brought by individuals who say they contracted kidney or testicular cancer from C-8. Lawsuits said the company used the chemical, which had been found in nearby drinking water, knowing it was toxic.

In October of last year, a jury awarded a woman $1.6 million after she sued DuPont over contamination of drinking water in Ohio River communities.…

July 14, 2015

Insurance company says hotel’s policy excludes damages from pollution

Source:, July 13, 2015
By: Andrea Lannon

An insurance company recently sued by three South Charleston hotels, says a policy issued to the hotels does not cover damages they say they sustained from the Jan. 9, 2014 chemical spill.

The hotel groups alleged the insurance providers wrongfully denied their claim for damages sustained from the chemical leak. The insurance companies, however, said the policy excluded damages sustained from pollution.

Monarch Holdings LLC, Hospitality Ventures Limited Liability Company, which owns The Hampton Inn in Southridge; E&G Inc. and Capitol Hotel Group, which owns the Holiday Inn and Suites in South Charleston; and Allied Hosts LLC, which owns the Wingate Inn in South Charleston sued Travelers Companies Inc, Charter Oak Fire Insurance Company and Bradley Trent Bell, an account executive for Travelers.

About two weeks ago, the insurance companies moved the case, which was originally filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court, over to federal court.

The hotels said the contaminated water physically damaged property, “including exposing their water and water-related facilities to poisonous and toxic chemicals, including their water storage facilities, fixtures, pipes, toilets, drains, sinks, pools, and all other places where water flowed into and was stored.”

The lawsuit said the hotels suffered “significant and direct physical damage,” leading to substantial cleanup costs, lost business and interrupted business from closures and reduced occupancies.

In the lawsuit, the hotels contend these damages are covered under their insurance policy and the companies wrongfully denied their claim.

In a response filed last week, the insurance companies said the hotels’ asserted damages are not covered and the lawsuit is barred under the statute of limitations.

They also denied the chemical spill resulted in direct physical damage to their property.

The response cited an exclusion, which said the company wouldn’t pay for loss or damages from the “failure or fluctuation of power, communication, water or other utility service supplied to the described premises, however caused, if the cause of the failure or fluctuation: (1) originates away from the described premises.”

The exclusion applies whether the loss results in widespread damage or affects a substantial area, the response said.

The response also said Bell should not have been brought in as a defendant in the lawsuit.…