July 27, 2018

Toxins found in Upper Dublin drinking water; EPA holds forum to address concerns

Source:, July 26, 2018
By: Vernon Odum

The tap water in Upper Dublin Township is widely believed by local residents to be dangerously contaminated by firefighting agents from military bases in this area of Montgomery County.

The acronym for the contaminating chemical in question is PFAS, which stands for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances.

According to the EPA’s website, the chemicals in PFAS are “very persistent in the environment and in the human body,” meaning they accumulate and stay in the body for a long period of time.

“This a Frankenstein’s monster kind of chemical,” said Upper Dublin Resident Mark Cuker. “It doesn’t break down when you drink it. It stays in your body and causes adverse health effects.”…

November 13, 2017

UPDATE: Mountaire cited for contaminating groundwater

Source:, November 10, 2017
By: Maddy Lauria

Company must provide neighbors with clean water

State officials say Mountaire Farms’ Millsboro plant has been polluting groundwater and failing to comply with its state permit to dispose of wastewater on nearby farm fields.

Health risks because of the pollution require Mountaire to provide its immediate neighbors with bottled water or drinking water treatment. To date, state officials have imposed no fines.

Neighbors say they have not received bottled water or additional water treatment since it was required by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency consent order in 2003.

On Nov. 2, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control issued a notice of violation to the poultry-processing plant after inspections found excess nitrate contamination in groundwater and monitoring wells. Bacteria found in the sprayed wastewater in August was measured at more than 5,000 times the permitted level.

Overexposure to nitrates can result in a blood disorder with symptoms including decreased blood pressure, increased heart rate, headaches, abdominal cramps, vomiting and even death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The bacteria found in sprayed wastewater is fecal coliform, which can cause gastrointestinal problems in humans.…

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 10, 2017

Tank Leak Oozes 300,000 Tons Of Molten Glass Into Ohio Plant

Read here about a ruptured tank at an Ohio plant that spilled molten glass.…

August 8, 2017

High manganese levels lead EPA to crack down on Southeast Side polluter

Source:, August 8, 2017
By: Michael Hawthorne

Federal environmental regulators are cracking down on a Southeast Side company after finding high levels of brain-damaging manganese in a low-income, predominantly Latino neighborhood.

Air quality monitors posted around the S.H. Bell Co. storage terminal recorded violations of federal health standards during nearly 40 percent of the days when samples were collected between March and June, according to data posted online Monday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Average concentrations of the heavy metal exceeded the legal limit of 0.3 micrograms per cubic meter of air during the period and spiked up to four times higher, prompting the EPA to cite S.H. Bell with violations of the federal Clean Air Act.

The alarming findings come three years after investigators stumbled across S.H. Bell while taking a closer look at two nearby sites that stored dusty piles of petroleum coke along the Calumet River.

Monitors at one of the sites owned by KCBX Terminals picked up high levels of manganese on days when winds blew across the river from the vicinity of S.H. Bell’s facility between 101st and 103rd streets. After S.H. Bell repeatedly ignored federal and city orders to install additional monitors, a court-ordered legal settlement required the equipment to be up and running by March.…

April 25, 2017

EPA, Beech-Nut to talk about aesbestos pile in Canajoharie

Source:, April 24, 2017
By: Larry Rulison

Discussion will focus on asbestos found at the former food plant

Beech-Nut will be sitting down with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency soon to go over an EPA administrative order that it clean up the asbestos mess at its former Canajoharie plant.

Beech-Nut had until Friday to tell the EPA whether or not it intended to comply with the order, which was issued two weeks ago after a two-year investigation.

“In accordance with the terms of the order, the respondents have acknowledged receipt of the order and have made a timely request for a conference with EPA, which will take place in the near future,” EPA spokesman Elias Rodriguez told the Times Union.

Last week, EPA crews were spraying a protective coating over mounds of toxic demolition debris and plant walls to prevent loose asbestos from blowing into the air of the small village of about 2,100 residents. The debris is there after the demolition of the plant by Todd Clifford, an Ohio developer who bought the building from Beech-Nut in 2013 and apparently took it apart for scrap.

Watchdog groups claim that Clifford may have left behind a huge public health problem.

The piles of asbestos and debris may have exposed anyone nearby to danger, said Emily Walsh, outreach director for the not-for-profit Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the inner lining of the lungs and chest wall that is linked to inhalation of asbestos.

“The asbestos debris that was left out in the open for years could have potentially life-threatening consequences,” Walsh told the Times Union. “Asbestos particles can become airborne and are toxic to breathe in. Once inhaled, the particles can become lodged in their lungs.”…

April 25, 2017

Asbestos exclusion shields Travelers unit from liability

Source:, April 24, 2017
By: Judy Greenwald

A Travelers Cos. Inc. unit is not obligated to pay more than $36 million in indemnification and prejudgment interest to a manufacturing company because of an asbestos exclusion in its excess policies, says a federal appeals court, overturning a lower court ruling.

Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania-based General Refractories Co. manufactures and supplies refractory products designed to retain their strength when exposed to extreme heat, according to Friday’s ruling by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia in General Refractories Co. v. First State Insurance Co. et al.

GRC’s products previously included asbestos in some of its products, which led to about 31,440 lawsuits charging asbestos-related injuries dating back to 1978, according to the ruling.

“GRC’s insurers initially fielded these claims,” said the ruling. During the 1970s and 1980s, GRC had entered into primary liability insurance policies with a number of different insurers and also secured additional excess policies to provide additional coverage, said the ruling.…

March 6, 2015

Louisville Homeowners File Kentucky Whiskey Fungus Class Action Lawsuit

Source:, June 12, 2012

Three Kentucky whiskey makers are facing an environmental class action lawsuit alleging ethanol vapors given off during the aging process are leaving black spots called “whiskey fungus” on nearby cars and homes, and this fungus is allegedly causing permanent property damage.

The class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of homeowners who live near the Louisville manufacturing facilities. They claim a fungus in the vapors is leaving a nonlethal, sooty mold on surfaces near the distilleries. The vapors which occur due to evaporation during the fermentation process are known as “angel’s share”–referring to the guardian angels that are thought to watch over the aging process of the whiskey. Plaintiffs say the companies need to do a better job of “managing their emissions.”

According to McMurry & Associates, co-counsel for the plaintiffs, Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District has been investigating complaints of black spots on some homes and cars near liquor-making operations and had recently tested spots at the home of the lead Plaintiff, Joseph M. Billy. The testing detected baudoinia compniacensis, which is known commonly as “whiskey fungus.”

Because Whiskey fungus can only be removed “with extreme measures,” such as high-pressure washing, Class Members are required to spend an “abnormal amount of time and money cleaning surfaces in and around their property,” the class action lawsuit states.

The defendants in the Kentucky Whiskey fungus class action lawsuit are Diageo Americas Supply Inc. (maker of Crown Royal, Bushmills and Johnnie Walker), Brown-Forman Corp. (maker of Jack Daniels, Canadian Mist and Early Times), and Heaven Hill Distilleries (maker of Evan Williams, Parker’s Heritage and Henry McKenna).

The lawsuit is brought on behalf of all persons who own real property in the vicinity of the Defendants’ ethanol-emitting operations, as well as all persons who own a motorized vehicle that is regularly parked and/or stored in the vicinity, the exact radius of which will be determined later. The lawsuit is seeking injunctive relief and punitive, compensatory and exemplary damages for negligence and gross negligence, nuisance, trespass and strict liability.…

March 4, 2015

Brain Cancer Cases Shot Up in This Florida Town—Is a Defense Contractor to Blame?

Source:, October 14, 2014
By: Sharon Lerner

For years, radioactive waste has seeped into swampland, canals—even drinking water. Now a few families are fighting to hold the polluters accountable.

This article was reported in partnership with the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute, with support from the Gertrude Blumenthal Kasbekar Fund.

A pixielike girl with big blue eyes and long brown hair, Hannah Samarripa began experiencing headaches and fatigue in the middle of eighth grade. By the time the spring dance rolled around, Hannah didn’t have the strength to paint her own toenails. Her mother, Becky Samarripa, did it for her, and then drove Hannah to school and waited outside, knowing she’d be able to put in only a brief appearance. The teenager’s mysterious decline continued on to limping, vomiting, incontinence and—perhaps her most disturbing symptom—occasional fits of barking laughter that sounded so strange and demonic, her father wondered whether she was on drugs. Then, in the summer before ninth grade, while her family was visiting a Civil War memorial on the coast of Alabama, Hannah collapsed.

Still, it was a full six months later, when a doctor spotted her brain tumor during an eye exam—literally seeing the growth through the lens of Hannah’s eye—that the 14-year-old got the diagnosis and then the surgery that saved her life.…

February 4, 2015

Exide battery plant cited for hazardous waste violations

Source: Los Angeles Times, January 29, 2015
Posted on:

Exide Technologies is in trouble again with state environmental regulators who on Wednesday cited the Vernon battery recycler for eight hazardous-waste violations.

Inspections last week by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found the lead-acid battery recycling plant was treating and storing contaminated sludge in unauthorized tanks that lacked an adequate containment system to prevent spills.

In a statement, Exide Vice President Tom Strang said “the company is already taking action pursuant to the notice and will continue to work with the DTSC so that all applicable standards and protocols are met. We intend to operate a premier recycling facility.”

The agency cited Exide for several other violations found during the Jan. 20 and Jan. 21 inspections, including improperly labeling hazardous-waste containers. It said the company must show that it has corrected the problems within 10 days. Exide also failed to properly report a Jan. 12 spill of sodium hydroxide, a caustic liquid used in the recycling process, the toxic substances agency said.

The chemical did not make it off-site and was captured and disposed of properly, the agency said. Because the spilled liquid is not classified as hazardous waste, that incident was referred to the city of Vernon for investigation.…