March 15, 2018


Source:, March 13, 2018
By: Tom Johnson

Natural-resources damage suit involves three oil companies who contaminated groundwater with potentially carcinogenic gasoline additive

The Murphy administration yesterday said it has settled cases with three oil companies who have agreed to pay nearly $200 million for polluting water with a potential human carcinogen.

Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced approval of draft settlements reached by the Christie administration to resolve natural-resources damage lawsuits against the three defendants involving contamination of groundwater with an additive to gasoline.

The cases involve a decade-old lawsuit filed against nearly 50 companies alleging they were responsible for polluting state waters with the gasoline additive, methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE). The state Department of Environmental Protection has found the potential human carcinogen at over 6,000 sites.

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.”…

December 14, 2016

Sinclair pays EPA $655,000 for asbestos cleanup at former refinery site

Source:, December 13, 2016
By: Christine Peterson

Sinclair Casper Refining Company recently paid the Environmental Protection Agency $655,000 to settle a decades-old cleanup in Thermopolis.

The company agreed in September to pay for costs associated with reclaiming the site of the company’s Thermopolis oil refinery, which operated from 1920 to 1969, according to a news release from the EPA.

“Beginning in 1974, the refinery was razed and equipment was sold and removed from the site by various entities, including Sinclair’s predecessor, Little America Refining Company,” the news release stated. “During demolition activities, a significant amount of asbestos-contaminated pipe insulation was stripped from equipment and disposed at the site.”

When the EPA examined the site in 2011, officials found “significant asbestos contamination.” The federal agency then removed about 4,000 cubic yards of material and soil containing asbestos. Clean, native soil was brought to fill excavated areas in November 2013, and the site was reseeded the following spring.

The agreement is part of the federal Superfund program, which is dedicated to cleaning some of the country’s most contaminated land.

Other Superfund sites in Wyoming included the Baxter/Union Pacific Tie Treating site, which was removed from the list in 1999, F.E. Warren Airforce Base in Cheyenne and the 410-acre Mystery Bridge Road/U.S. Highway 20 site in Evansville.

Exposure to asbestos has been linked to lung cancer and other lung diseases.

June 30, 2011

Jury orders Exxon to pay $495 million for leak

Source:, June 30. 2011

A jury in Maryland ordered oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp. to pay more than $495 million in damages for a leak from a gas station in 2006, the Baltimore Sun reported Thursday.

The Sun, citing documents released by Baltimore County Circuit Court, said the jury had given the awards to 160 families and businesses to compensate for lost property, emotional distress and medical monitoring related to damage from the underground leak of 26,000 gallons of gasoline.

The leak, which occurred from a pressurized line at the retail station over 37 days in January and February in 2006, reached the groundwater in the community that relies on private wells for drinking water.

Reuters was not immediately able to verify the damages, and Exxon Mobil was not able to comment on the report because the judge in the case, Robert Dugan, has imposed a gag order on the parties while the six-person jury remains in session.

The case is the second related to the spill. The jury in the first lawsuit, which involved fewer plaintiffs, awarded $150 million in compensatory damages. Exxon Mobil has appealed that verdict.

An Exxon lawyer told the jury on Tuesday that the company had already spent more than $46 million on the spill’s cleanup and been fined $4 million by the state, the paper reported.…

June 23, 2011

Leukemia victim sues Shell over benzene exposure

Source:, June 20, 2011
By: Sanford J. Schmidt

Scott Monroe was a 19-year-old naval scholarship student of nuclear engineering when he came down with a potentially lethal blood cancer that he and his lawyers claim is the result of a benzene leak from the refinery near his home.

Now, the disease, the refinery and the leak are the subject of a lawsuit Monroe filed last week in Madison County Circuit Court, naming Shell Oil Co. and BP Products North America as defendants.

“Mr. Monroe was first diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia in April 2010, when he was just 19. He lost a $180,000 Navy scholarship to the University of Michigan to pursue a degree in nuclear engineering, and his career prospects have been severely and permanently damaged,” said Christopher Dysart of St. Louis, one of his attorneys.

The suit claims that the disease shortened Monroe’s life expectancy and caused him mental anguish. The suit also is asking for damages for medical bills and for medical treatment, possibly for the rest of his life.

The suit claims Shell released toxic chemicals, including benzene, into the ground and groundwater in Roxana and did nothing to clean up or otherwise address the chemicals for more than 20 years.

“From approximately 1991 through the present, Mr. Monroe lived at 120 East First Street, Roxana. From approximately 1995 through 2009, Mr. Monroe attended elementary through high school at 601 North Chaffer Avenue, Roxana,” the suit states.…

June 16, 2011

Weitz & Luxenberg P.C. Secures $423 Million MTBE Settlement Against Oil Giants

Source:, May 8, 2008

Weitz & Luxenberg P.C. has secured a landmark MTBE settlement against some of the country’s biggest oil companies, which have agreed to pay $423 million in a suit involving the contamination of 153 public water systems nationally.

Of the settlement, Robert Gordon of Weitz & Luxenberg said, “This is an excellent settlement on behalf of our clients. The oil companies knew that MTBE would contaminate drinking water when they used it. The defendants who have settled have lived up to their responsibility by not only paying cash but by offering treatment of future contaminated wells for the next 30 years.”

The MTBE litigation, brought by Weitz & Luxenberg and Baron & Budd, addressed the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether, or MTBE. The chemical is now banned in many states because it can affect the taste and odor of drinking water at extremely low levels

The lawsuit claimed that MTBE was a defective product that led to massive contamination and that the chemical was used by the defendant companies despite those entities being aware that it posed environmental and potential health risks. The Environmental Protection Agency has found that MTBE caused cancer in lab rats exposed to high doses.

Filed on Wednesday with U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in New York, the settlement involves about a dozen oil companies, including ConocoPhillips, Shell, BP, Chevron and Marathon. The original lawsuit, brought in 2003 by public water providers in 17 states, was subsequently consolidated into one federal case. As part of the agreement, the defendants will be required to fund a 30-year clean-up program for contaminated wells and surrounding areas.

Six oil corporations and refineries did not settle, including Exxon Mobil Corp and five smaller companies including chemical maker Lyondell Petrochemical Corp.

“We look forward to trying the case against Exxon Mobil,” said Gordon. “It is not right that the most profitable corporation in the history of the world can contaminate our drinking water knowingly, and then expect the taxpayers to clean up their mess.”…

December 22, 2010

Companies to Pay $28 Million for Polluting Bayou


Two companies have recently agreed to pay approximately $28 million to clean up a polluted bayou as well as settle environmental claims. The settlement includes cleanup of a portion of a bayou, past damage to an estuary, and restoration to a wildlife refuge. The final details of the agreement are being finalized but the agreement will eventually settle both federal and state pollution claims against the two companies.

In this scenario, a Pollution Legal Liability policy may help to mitigate the loss. Most commercial facilities have environmental exposures, especially those that involve chemicals in the manufacturing process.

Some of the benefits to having a pollution policy in place may include:

  • Pro-active risk control services by the pollution insurance carrier to help mitigate potential exposures
  • Emergency response network of contractors, consultants, public relations firms, attorneys who are all well versed in addressing environmental incidents
  • Having the insurance company provide and/or direct the initial and ongoing claims process (rather than leaving it up to a manufacturer to flip through the yellow pages to obtain help)
December 10, 2010

Columbus oil refinery sued by Ohio EPA: State says company violating air pollution limits

Publication Date 06/16/2010
Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)

Less than a year after Heartland Refinery Group was praised by city and state officials as a cutting edge “green” business, the company has been sued by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for violating air pollution limits.

In the process, the state says Heartland created “a substantial odor nuisance and potential adverse impacts to public health and the environment.”

The state’s action is a substantial blow to the plant, dubbed a “re-refinery” because it strips soot and other compounds from used motor oil so that it could be recycled. Heartland officials planned to recycle as much as 20 million gallons of used oil a year.…

December 10, 2010

Pipeline Spill to Cost Est. $60M

Chicago pipeline spill to cost up to $60 million to clean up.

September 1, 2010

Tourism hardest hit in the Gulf in BP oil spill aftermath

Acknowledgement to Ironshore Environmental

August 17th, 2010 12:22 pm
By Dominique Doms, International Trade Examiner

The tourism industry in the Gulf of Mexico is normally at its peak around this time of the year, but tourists are few and far between this time around. A stroll around the beaches of the Florida panhandle and the Alabama shore show some sunbathers and visitors but the signs of a suffering Gulf economy are plenty.

Across the Gulf States, the vacancy rates in hotels, inns or condominiums is around 50% and a simple stroll on the beaches or a visit to a local restaurant show why: the number of visitors is a far cry from what local residents and business owners call “a normal season”.

One business owner in Alabama complained that his foreign visitors cancelled their trips after the April 22 collapse of the Deepwater Horizon rig and the start of the oil spill and opted to reschedule their two or three week vacation somewhere else and away from the Gulf.…