August 30, 2017

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

Source: http://www.constructionrisk.com, 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.”…

February 8, 2017

Duke University researchers find high levels of selenium in lakes receiving coal ash discharge

Source: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org, February 8, 2017
By: Lisa Sorg

At 1,100 acres, Sutton Lake is home to schools of largemouth bass, catfish and crappie. However, the lake also contains high levels of selenium, both in the surface water and in muscles of fish, a consequence of years of coal ash discharge from Duke Energy power plant near its shores.

Duke University scientists at the Nicholas School of the Environment announced the results of a study yesterday that showed levels of selenium were elevated in two of the three lakes sampled.

In Sutton Lake, 85 percent of all fish muscle samples examined contained selenium levels above the EPA’s threshold of 11.3 parts per million. In Mayo Lake near the Roxboro plant, 27 percent of samples exceeded EPA criteria. Levels were below the EPA criteria in Mountain Island Lake near the Riverbend plant in Charlotte.

All of the surface water samples in Sutton tested above the EPA threshold of 1.5 parts per billion. At Mayo, there was just one water exceedance, in “pore water” collected from sediment near the power plant.

Selenium is naturally occurring, but is also a main component of coal ash. It often enters surface water through discharges from power plants. Each day, millions of gallons of wastewater, which is treated, but far from pristine, are discharged into the lakes — popular destinations for boating, swimming and fishing.…

February 26, 2015

Maryland Family Files Class Action Injury Lawsuit Against Constellation Energy After Husband Dies From Drinking Contaminated Water

Source: http://www.marylandaccidentlawblog.com, December 3, 2007
By: Lebowitz & Mzhen

Anne Arundel resident Gayle K. Queen filed a class action lawsuit against power company Constellation Energy last week. Constellation Energy is the largest power company in Maryland.

Queen says her husband David died of kidney failure in 2006 because he drank water with traces of arsenic, lead, and other pollutants. At least five other people have died from suspicious reasons in the same area.

For the last 12 years—until early this fall—Constellation and a contractor dumped billions of tons of waste ash from smokestacks into an unlined former gravel mine pit located close to the neighborhood where Queen resides. The waste ash, also called fly ash, came from Constellation’s coal-fired power plant in Brandon Shores.

The claim filed in Baltimore circuit court is a class action lawsuit intending to represent dozens of residents seeking unspecified damages from Constellation Energy in personal injuries and property value loss.

Before reports exposing the contamination surfaced, Gayle Queen had been considering offers on her house for up to $750,000. The offers disappeared once the information about the contamination surfaced.

Tests conducted by Anne Arundel County discovered that 23 wells tested positive for dangerous metals, including thallium, arsenic, and cadmium (all components of waste ash). Constellation Energy just recently stopped burying ash in that area.…

August 15, 2012

Valero sues over 2008 tank rupture

Source: http://www.mysanantonio.com, August 8, 2012
By: Patrick Danner

Almost four years to the day an explosion at Valero Energy Corp.’s Houston refinery led to the release of dangerous sulfur compounds, the company has sued four companies over the incident.

A Valero partnership claims in lawsuit filed Thursday that the Aug. 4, 2008, incident was the result of defects in the design, engineering and construction of the sulfur tank facilities.

The suit was filed two days before a statutory deadline.

Named in the suit are: Houston-based global engineering and construction firm KBR Inc.; BE&K Inc., which is owned by KBR; Mustang Engineers and Constructors LP, also of Houston; and Berry Contracting LP, also known as Bay Ltd., of Corpus Christi.

“Valero is hopeful this matter can be resolved with a settlement,” company spokesman Bill Day said. None of the representatives for the companies sued responded to requests for comment.

The incident occurred when an above-ground tank ruptured and released gases, the Express-News reported at the time. Residents of a nearby neighborhood were ordered to remain indoors, though the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) later reported some residents complained of sore throats, burning eyes and breathing problems.…

March 23, 2011

Judge holds PA company responsible for polluting river

Read here about a Pennsylvania company that is being held liable for polluting the Conemaugh River.…

March 23, 2011

Cherry Valley looks to ban fracking

Source: Daily Star, The (Oneonta, NY), March 22, 2011
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Like Middlefield, Springfield and Otsego, the town of Cherry Valley is moving to ban drilling and hydraulic fracturing for natural gas within its borders.

The town’s zoning commission will hold a public hearing Monday on a draft land-use law that prohibits new drilling and fracking operations and other new “heavy industry.”

A copy of that proposed law, available at http://cherryvalleyny.us/pdfs/LandUseDraft, states in part:

“New ‘heavy industry’ uses, as defined elsewhere in this law, shall be prohibited in the town of Cherry Valley beginning on the effective date of this local law. The definition of ‘heavy industry’ in this law includes the exploration for natural gas, extraction of natural gas, natural gas processing facilities, exploration for crude oil, extraction of crude oil, oil refineries, coal mining, and coal processing … “…

March 15, 2011

Environmental concerns likely to alter planned Ohio pipeline

Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH), March 14, 2011
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

The drilling boom that has created hundreds of natural-gas wells in Pennsylvania and West Virginia could shoot new pipelines across Ohio.

State officials are weighing proposals for three pipelines that would help move ethane, propane and other liquefied natural-gas products to refineries in Ontario and Louisiana.

It’s not clear whether all three pipelines would be built.

An application that Houston-based Kinder Morgan Inc. filed with the state in November calls for a 240-mile pipeline from the Ohio River in Monroe County to the Michigan line west of Toledo.

The $550 million pipeline would create as many as 2,500 construction jobs and transport as much as 93,000 barrels of liquefied natural gas a day, according to the application.

It also would cross 334 streams, including three state scenic rivers, and go through 11 high-quality wetlands. The pipeline also would run near Toledo’s Oak Openings Preserve Metro Park, home to 180 rare and endangered plants.

That has environmental advocates concerned. Trent Dougherty, an attorney for the Ohio Environmental Council, said the state often does a poor job of enforcing rules that require companies to avoid or repair environmental damage.…

March 7, 2011

Chesapeake Energy Says It Is Facing Drilling-Contamination Probes

Source: Dow Jones News Service, March 2, 2011
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) said some of its oil-and- gas-drilling operations in Pennsylvania and West Virginia are being investigated by environmental regulators.

In Pennsylvania, the state Department of Environmental Protection is looking into the possible contamination of groundwater and residential water wells with methane, Chesapeake said in documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission late Tuesday.

In West Virginia, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is probing Chesapeake’s compliance with Clean Water Act permitting requirements, the company said in its filing.

Chesapeake, the second-largest U.S. natural gas producer by output, said the investigations were initiated in the fourth quarter of 2010 and the first quarter of 2011 and that the company is cooperating with investigators. The company said in the filing that any fines or penalties imposed would likely exceed $100,000.…

March 2, 2011

Arch Coal to pay $4 million to settle pollution claims

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), March 1, 2011
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Arch Coal Inc., the nation’s second-largest coal producer, will pay a $4 million penalty to settle claims that it violated federal water-quality standards in three eastern states.

The agreement was announced Tuesday morning by the Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency.

Under the settlement, Creve Coeur-based Arch also agreed to make changes to mining operations in Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky that will prevent an estimated 2 million pounds of pollution from entering waterways each year, the Justice Department said.

Arch said it reported more half a million water-quality parameters to federal and state regulators from 2003 to 2010, the period covered by the settlement, and its operations were compliant with standards 99.9 percent of the time.

“While the company fulfilled its legal obligation under the Clean Water Act to sample and report water quality from its discharge points, the fines reflect those rare instances when water quality parameters were exceeded,” Paul A. Lang, Arch’s senior vice president of operations, said in a statement. “We regret these exceedances and have taken aggressive steps to ensure that they will not be repeated in the future.”

A joint federal-state complaint was filed against Arch in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of West Virginia that allege numerous violations of the mining company’s permits, which set limits on pollutants that are discharged into streams.

The lawsuit says Arch released excess amounts of iron, manganese and other pollutants that “reflect deficiencies in operation and maintenance of wastewater treatment systems” at four mining operations.

The settlement calls for Arch to install a treatment system to reduce selenium runoff from mines that can harm aquatic organisms. Arch also agreed to a series of inspections, audits and other tracking measures at the mines to ensure compliance, the Justice Department said.

Half of the $4 million penalty will be paid to the United States. The rest will be divided between West Virginia and Kentucky. The settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.…

March 1, 2011

Regulation Lax as Gas Wells’ Tainted Water Hits Rivers

Source: The New York Times, February 27, 2011
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

The American landscape is dotted with hundreds of thousands of new wells and drilling rigs, as the country scrambles to tap into this century’s gold rush — for natural gas.

The gas has always been there, of course, trapped deep underground in countless tiny bubbles, like frozen spills of seltzer water between thin layers of shale rock. But drilling companies have only in recent years developed techniques to unlock the enormous reserves, thought to be enough to supply the country with gas for heating buildings, generating electricity and powering vehicles for up to a hundred years.

So energy companies are clamoring to drill. And they are getting rare support from their usual sparring partners. Environmentalists say using natural gas will help slow climate change because it burns more cleanly than coal and oil. Lawmakers hail the gas as a source of jobs. They also see it as a way to wean the United States from its dependency on other countries for oil.…