October 13, 2017

Philadelphia school to remain closed Friday for mold remediation

Source:, October 12, 2017
By: Andrew Parent

An elementary school in the city’s Germantown section will remain closed Friday as work continues to remove mold found in several of its classrooms.

About 80 percent of the remediation work at John B. Kelly Elementary School had been completed as of early Thursday afternoon, according to the School District of Philadelphia.

Trace amounts of mold were the result of issues with the building’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system, according to the district, which was alerted to contamination on Wednesday.

An environmental remediation contractor began work to remove the mold Wednesday afternoon and had been expected to finish the job Thursday evening, the district said.

The district said the school will not reopen until it is mold-free.

Faculty members will again report Friday to the Hill-Freedman World Academy, 1100 E. Mt. Pleasant St.

The district plans to give an update to parents and staff no later than 5 p.m. Sunday.…

October 13, 2017

More mold found in Cheltenham schools

Source:, October 10, 2017
By: Kristen A. Graham

Monroe Township in Gloucester County isn’t the only district coping with a mold problem in one of its schools.

Cheltenham, where mold caused years of problems and ultimately forced the school district to shut and rebuild one of its middle schools, has had another mold outbreak.

Cheltenham High School’s library was closed this week after mold was found there, said Steve Greenbaum, a district spokesman.

The problem was discovered when a staffer who worked in the library complained of feeling sick. Cheltenham contracted with an environmental engineering firm, which found mold in the air and on many of the library’s books. Immediate remediation was suggested.

The district shut the library as of Monday and is accelerating a project to renovate the library and replace its HVAC system. It will remain closed through the renovation, a process that is expected to last into the spring.

A six-point plan to remediate the mold is underway, officials said — from removing and replacing ceiling tiles to using special filters and vacuums to clean and purify the books and rooms.

Greenbaum said it was not immediately clear how much the remediation and renovation would cost.

The rest of the school is unaffected, Cheltenham officials said in information sent to parents. The library’s HVAC system is self-contained, so its air was not spread to other areas in the building.

“Families will be notified if additional mold testing within the high school yields problematic results,” the district said.

No mold was found in the library when it was cleaned and prepared for students prior to the start of the school year, officials said, and no one reported any possible problems until the staffer disclosed her illness recently.

While the library is closed, school officials have made alternate spaces available for students to study, take exams, seek help for computer repairs, and print documents.…

October 10, 2017

Contentious school board meeting held to discuss mold mess

Source:, October 10, 2017
By: Chris Franklin

The mold controversy that has become a concern for many residents who live in the Monroe Township School District found its way to the Williamstown High School auditorium Monday. The hall, which holds over 1,020 people was so packed that the township fire marshal had to tell people to line up outside in the hallways.

Earlier in the day, the school district announced that the every school in the district will be closed for the rest of the week as outside contractors begin surveying the school and seeing if mold is above acceptable levels in the district’s six buildings. The Holly Glen Elementary School was closed last Thursday after mold counts were deemed excessive.

The emergency Monroe Township Board of Education meeting was at times contentious. In a scene that resembled a rally, parents and students in the crowd voiced their displeasure, trying to find out the cause of the mold and asking questions as to how long the board knew about the mold as well as who should be held responsible.

TTI Environmental and All Risk are the two companies that will be working together to remove the mold and clean the buildings. TTI Environmental Vice President of Consulting Timothy Popp was at the meeting to go over the process of how the buildings will be inspected and tested for mold while All Risk Senior Vice President Lou Crisei said a crew of 40 to 50 people would be brought in to clean. TTI would then come back in and retest to make sure it is safe.…

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.”…

April 24, 2017

UPMC sued again by family of patient who died after mold infection

Source:, April 20, 2017
By: Sean D. Hamill

Katherine Landman had already benefited from one bone-marrow transplant from her younger brother, Paul, three years earlier when her acute myeloid leukemia came back in July 2015.

“She was doing real well until then,” her father, Lenny Boyce, said Thursday.

The 44-year-old New Castle mother of two college-age kids returned to UPMC Shadyside for a work-up and her doctors quickly decided that she needed another transplant. This time the bone marrow would come from her older brother, Louis, and preparations began for the procedure.

“But that never came about because she got this infection,” Mr. Boyce said.

The infection was a particularly deadly form of mold – rhizopus —- that had gotten into her sinuses sometime after she was admitted to Shadyside, according to the wrongful death and negligence lawsuit her husband, Steve, filed Thursday in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court against UPMC and Paris Cleaners, the company that cleans UPMC’s linens.

In August 2015, she had two surgeries to attempt to remove the infection from her sinus cavity. But the surgeries could not stop its spread and Ms. Landman died Oct. 11, 2015.…

April 20, 2017

University of Nevada, Reno relocating employees in building with radium

Source:, April 19, 2017
By: Kaleb Roedel & Kenzie Bales

The University of Nevada, Reno says it will be relocating 30 employees and several student workers working in an 8,000 square foot building where low levels of radiation were found.

The radiation readings in the Facilities Services Building are all below the government’s maximum permitted level of 100 millirems — a measure of radiation dosage per year — and below the levels that often occur naturally in the atmosphere, especially at higher altitudes.

UNR President Marc Johnson on Tuesday said in a letter to faculty and students that the Facilities Services Building, which sits between Ansari Business and Mackay School of Mines, was found to have low levels of radium in the fall of 2016. The discovery came after Nevada’s Radiation Control Program asked about the building, which was built in 1920 and used by the U.S. Bureau of Mines for research that involved the separation of radium from ore.

Johnson said the radiation readings in the building are all below the government’s maximum permitted exposure and are below the levels that occur naturally in the atmosphere, especially at high altitudes.

However, the law requires that the university removes the radium. Consequently, UNR it relocating its employees working in the building to alternate office space. The university says it does not believe any classes have ever been held there.

While UNR evaluates its next move, the university has received recommendations ranging from decontamination to the removal of the building, Johnson said.

“Decontamination is preferred given the historic nature of the building if it is not prohibitively costly,” Johnson added.

A spokesperson for the University told News 4 & Fox 11 that all of the buildings in the surrounding areas were also tested and found to be free of radium contamination.

Due to a law that requires the University to remove radium even if the amount falls below the maximum permitted exposure level, the University is relocating all occupants so that officials can evaluate the most feasible next steps.

University officials say that decontamination is preferred given the historic nature of the building, however; decontaminating the building could cost anywhere between $4.5 to $6 millions dollars.

Demolishing the building would cost $1.5 to $2 million dollars.…

March 31, 2017

Pitzer College v. Indian Harbor Insurance Company

Source:, March 28, 2017
By: Michael R. Velladao and Nicole R. Kardassakis, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP

In Pitzer College v. Indian Harbor Ins. Co., 845 F.3d 993 (9th Cir. January 13, 2017), the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals certified the following questions to the California Supreme Court:

  1. Is California’s common law notice-prejudice rule a fundamental public policy for the purpose of choice-of-law analysis? May common law rules other than unconscionability not enshrined in statute, regulation, or the constitution, be fundamental public policies for the purpose of choice-of-law analysis?
  2. If the notice-prejudice rule is a fundamental public policy for the purpose of choice-of-law analysis, can a consent provision in a first-party claim insurance policy be interpreted as a notice provision such that the notice-prejudice rule applies?

The above questions arose out of a coverage dispute under a first party property policy affording coverage for remediation expenses caused by pollution–related damage. The policy provided that New York law governed any issues with respect to interpretation of the policy.

On January 10, 2011, Pitzer College became aware of darkened soils at the construction site for a new dormitory. By January 21, 2011, Pitzer determined that remediation would be required. After assessing its options, Pitzer secured one of two Transportable Treatment Units (“TTU”) located in Southern California to remediate the soils. The remediation treatment was successful and Pitzer completed the dormitory a few days before the students’ move-in date. Pitzer submitted a claim for reimbursement of the remediation costs to Indian Harbor Insurance Company (“Indian Harbor”) under the first party pollution coverage. The Indian Harbor policy contained a notice provision requiring Pitzer to provide Indian Harbor with notice of any condition requiring remediation. In the section describing reporting, this policy contained a consent provision stating that Indian Harbor would not cover any expenses Pitzer incurred for remediation without first obtaining Indian Harbor’s consent. The consent provision included an exception for emergencies, but required Pitzer to notify Indian Harbor “immediately thereafter” it incurred any emergency expenses.…

March 10, 2017

Contractor denies mishandling asbestos in school job

Source:, March 9, 2017
By: Keith Eddings

AG Healey seeks fines for alleged violations

A prominent city contractor is rejecting allegations by Attorney General Maura Healey that his workers improperly handled asbestos hundreds of times while working on the reconstruction at Greater Lowell Technical School in 2014 and 2015. Healey alleges the contractor exposed students and staff to the carcinogen.

Two state environmental agencies that visited the school — one at Healey’s request and the other in response to complaints from school employees — reported finding no evidence that the contractor, RM Technologies, had mishandled asbestos while working as a subcontractor on a $65 million reconstruction of the school.

The school’s superintendent and the chairman of the School Committee said they were bewildered by Healey’s allegations.

Healey made her claims in a lawsuit filed in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston, where she is seeking $25,000 in fines for every day the violations occurred over the two years.

The suit alleges that RM Technologies “failed to contain work areas while performing asbestos work, allowed pieces of asbestos-containing waste material to remain dry and uncontained in many places throughout the school, conducted asbestos work without supervision by the project manager and failed to clean up visible debris after performing asbestos work, among other violations.”…

March 7, 2017

AG sues firm over Greater Lowell Tech asbestos work

Source:, March 7, 2017
By: Amaris Castillo

Students, faculty, and staff at Greater Lowell Technical High School risked exposure to asbestos due to the shoddy demolition and renovation work of Lawrence-based RM Technologies, Inc., according to a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Maura Healey.

The complaint filed in Suffolk Superior Court alleges that workers of RM Technologies in 2014 failed to contain work areas while performing asbestos work, allowed pieces of asbestos-containing waste material to remain dry and uncontained in many places throughout the school, failed to clean up visible debris after performing asbestos work, among other violations.

A call and emails seeking comment from Rafael Guzman, president and owner of RM Technologies, Inc., were not returned Monday.

“Asbestos can be found in many homes, in schools, and in workplaces, and if it is not handled properly it poses a serious health risk,” Healey said in a written statement. “Too often, children, families, and workers are exposed to airborne asbestos fibers due to shoddy or unlicensed work, and many aren’t aware of the serious danger it poses.”

Pursuing this case is part of a new initiative announced last week by Healey’s office that in part ramps up enforcement of unsafe and illegal asbestos work by landlords, property owners and contractors. According to AG spokeswoman Chloe Gotsis, this case came to the AG’s office in early 2015 through a report from an alleged victim.

December 13, 2016

Paterson schools mishandled asbestos, mold removal alleges ex-employee in lawsuit

Source:, December 13, 2016
By: Jayed Rahman

The former environmental occupational health and safety officer for the Paterson Public Schools claims the state-operated district improperly handled asbestos and mold removal at a number schools buildings in a lawsuit filed in New Jersey Superior Court.

Brenda Zemo, who worked at the district over the past eight years, alleges the district and its facilities director failed to abide by federal and state regulations while handling asbestos and mold removal. She also alleges she was subjected to a hostile work environment by the director.

School 12

emo alleges Steve Morlino ordered the improper removal of asbestos laden flooring from a School 12 classroom that was closed for more than a year following a fire. She claims the director ordered district carpenters to cut the flooring which had multiple layers, one of which tested positive for asbestos, in large sheets.

She told the director in a meeting in August 2014 the removal required individuals licensed in asbestos removal and the material had to be properly disposed at a registered landfill. She told him the district did not have licensed employees to perform the work and that the schools did not have the respirators needed to handle the task.…