September 3, 2019

California Supreme Court rules late notice no bar to insurance claims

Source:, August 30, 2019
By: Judy Greenwald

In what is described as a pro-policyholder ruling, the California Supreme Court held Thursday that it is a fundamental policy that California policyholders can proceed with their claims even if they give late notice, unless their insurer can prove it substantially prejudices it. Read more.

June 21, 2019

In rural Alaska, school districts deal with a legacy of unaddressed contamination

Source:, June 19, 2019
By: Rashah McChesney

There are thousands of open contaminated sites in Alaska.  Typically, when one is discovered, it’s up to the landowner — or the person responsible for making the mess — to clean it up.  But there are dozens of sites where this process has broken down — where it isn’t clear who owned the property when it was polluted, who caused the pollution and who should pay to clean it up.

It’s especially a problem in rural Alaska, where remote sites can cost millions to remediate.

Lower Kuskokwim School District Maintenance Director Jeff Harris is intimately familiar with the problem — his district has seven open contaminated sites where state regulators have flagged it

On an uncharacteristically warm, dusty spring day at his office in the school district’s Bethel headquarters, he offers an unorthodox tour of some school district property.

So, from the massive cab of one of the district’s beefy Dodge trucks, we go for a bumpy drive along the city’s unpaved roads. Bethel isn’t a big town. It has about 16 miles of road, total. But still, it’s surprising to drive down Fifth Avenue and come across a block of brightly-colored shipping containers.

“This is the ugly part of LKSD,” Harris said.  “So we’ve got more containers all the Super Sacks –” he pauses and turns, pointing across the road.  Behind a chain-link fence is a cluster of dilapidated 10,000 gallon fuel tanks. “These are the fuel tanks that we removed from villages so we could get rid of them.”

The Lower Kuskokwim School District is the largest of its kind in Alaska. It’s a Rural Education Attendance Area — think of it as a type of borough created specifically for rural education — spanning 22,000 square miles of tundra and 27 schools.  A lot of times, when contaminated junk is removed from one of those village schools — it makes a pit stop at district headquarters in Bethel.

The containers that we’re looking at hold the remnants of a Yup’ik immersion school that burned down in Bethel in 2016.

“It was like, dirt from the fire. So it’s contaminated with broken wood and that kind of stuff,” he said.

There’s another row of shipping containers just like it a few blocks away right outside of the high school. Those have everything from darkroom chemicals to asbestos in them.

Harris said, you can’t just take all of this stuff over to the dump.  And there aren’t a lot of ways to get out of town. You could fly.  Or, as is the case with these containers — take a boat.

They have to be barged about 50 miles down the Kuskokwim River where empties into a bay and, eventually, the Bering Sea.  From there, it’s thousands of miles to the closest landfill that will take them.  It gets expensive.

Three years ago, Harris said he shipped one container of dried bio-solids — that’s code for treated sewage — from a village downriver.

That one shipping container, wedged onto a barge – Tuntutuliak to Oregon? It cost $15,000.…

June 7, 2019

IU’s lawyers say the university isn’t contractually obligated to keep its rooms clean

Source:, April 28, 2019
By: Lexi Haskell

Here’s what else you’ve missed with the lawsuit.

IU is not contractually obligated to provide clean, safe or mold-free housing to its students, attorneys representing the university’s Board of Trustees have argued in a court filing.

More than 20 IU students who lived on the Bloomington campus at the time are suing trustees of IU after dealing with mold this year in residence halls.

The students’ attorneys claim IU broke its contract by allowing students to move into mold-plagued rooms. They also allege a number of wrongdoings, including negligence, fraud and deception.

But IU’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the suit, arguing the students have no case.

“The written contractual terms and conditions do not state that Indiana University is contractually obligated to provide dormitories that are either free from mold, ‘suitable and ready for inhabitation,’ or ‘clean, safe, and habitable,’” IU’s attorneys wrote in a court filing.…

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.…

January 9, 2019

Millbrook students ‘home’ after months-long mold cleanup, repairs

Source:, January 9, 2018
By: Nina Schutzman

A Millbrook district elementary school is open again, nearly four months after shutting down for mold remediation and renovations.

And for Elm Drive Elementary’s 160-plus students, the re-opening of their building brought a fresh start and a homecoming.

Elm Drive had been closed since September. While remediation and repairs were ongoing, Elm Drive’s K-2 students were relocated to Millbrook Middle School.

Now the kids are “back where they belong,” said Millbrook Central School District Superintendent Philip D’Angelo.

And the school they returned to is in better shape than the one they left behind, officials say.

“It’s been a difficult start of the school year,” D’Angelo told the Poughkeepsie Journal. “You try to find an opportunity out of a tough situation. This building is 59-years-old, but (now) it’s almost like new.”

The district’s insurance company, New York Schools Insurance Reciprocal, is projected to pay more than $2 million for work completed inside of the school, said Brian Fried, Millbrook’s assistant superintendent for business, finance and operations.…

November 28, 2018

Mercer University cleaning up hazardous site

Source:, November 28, 2018
By: Avery Braxton

The Mercer University Triangle is considered a hazardous site by the Environmental Protection Division.

An area frequented by Mercer University students and Bibb County residents has been considered a hazardous site for years.

November 27, 2018

Freshman death leads to fears of possible mold-adenovirus connection at University of Maryland

Source:, November 23, 2018
By: Teri Webster

The University of Maryland in College Park is contending with fears about whether a student’s death from adenovirus was related to mold found in campus dorm rooms. Five more students also have illnesses tied to the virus, but it isn’t clear if mold is the culprit, according to published reports.

Freshman Olivia Paregol, 18, died Sunday after contracting the virus, CBS News reported.

Adenoviruses are common and can cause symptoms such as a cold or eye infections, according to published reports. A vaccine is reportedly available for adenovirus, but it is not available to the public.

What is going on?

Freshman Jessica Thompson told the news outlet she noticed mold on her shoes and on clothing in her dorm room in August. Thompson said she believe the fungus made her and her roommate ill.

“You can’t sleep at night because the pillow is right next to mold and you’re up all night coughing,” Thompson told the news outlet. “We got to go home on the weekends and we would be totally fine at home, and we would come back and would be sniffling and coughing and then have headaches.”…

October 8, 2018


Source:, October 8, 2018

The bacteria was discovered following two cases of Legionnaires’ disease

Legionella discovered in New Jersey drinking water

Legionella discovered in New Jersey drinking water

Nine schools and one hotel in West Orange, N.J., discovered legionella bacteria following two confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease. The schools and hotel are flushing pipes and the hotel has replaced shower heads. The bacteria has been found in drinking water at all but three West Orange Public Schools, as reported by NJ Advance Media.

According to West Orange Public Schools, legionella was found in samples taken from Gregory Elementary School, Hazel Elementary School, Mt. Pleasant Elementary School, Redwood Elementary School, St. Cloud Elementary School, Washington Elementary School, Edison Middle School, Roosevelt Middle School, West Orange High School and the administrative building.

“The region sees seasonal increases in the summer months generally,” said Nicole Kirgan, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health. “This year seems particularly active, given that we have experienced very wet and humid weather these past few months.”

While there have been no confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease at West Orange Public Schools, there were two cases at the Ramada Plaza hotel near the Newark Airport. The hotel has taken steps to disinfect their water system and replace shower heads, following the discovery.

According to ABC News, the schools district has begun the process of pumping chlorine into the schools hot water heaters to flush the system. Following the flush, new water samples will be taken seven to ten days later to ensure the bacteria is gone.

July 19, 2018

Towers Residence Suites to remain closed as WSU clears Legionella from campus

Source:, July 16, 2018

Wayne State University officials say they are working to eliminate the Legionella bacteria that has been found in a number of buildings on campus.

However, they say that while much of the contamination has been remediated, work still needs to be done on several facilities, including the Towers Residence Suites and the Student Center.

Officials say it will take several more weeks before they rooftop cooling towers on the Towers Residence Suites can be replaced, and the building will remain unoccupied during that time.

The Student Center will remain open. However, the air conditioning will remain off during the repairs, which are expected to take several days.…