Utilities

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.”…

April 19, 2013

Minneapolis sues CenterPoint over 2011 gas explosion

Source: StarTribune, Minneapolis, April 18, 2013
By: Alejandra Matos

Two years after a gas explosion in south Minneapolis, officials from the city and CenterPoint still dispute who is responsible for blast.

It was a memorable St. Patrick’s Day in south Minneapolis two years ago when a gas line exploded at 60th Street and Nicollet Avenue. The force of the blast torched vehicles, one of which was Necole Berglund’s, in the Cub Foods parking lot. No one was injured.
Photo: Brian Peterson , Star Tribune

The dispute between Minneapolis and CenterPoint Energy over who was at fault for a gas explosion near a south Minneapolis Cub Foods in 2011 is heading to court.

The city of Minneapolis filed a lawsuit last month against CenterPoint Energy claiming the Texas-based natural gas company was negligent in maintaining and repairing the pipe running under 60th Street and Nicollet Avenue S. The city is seeking compensation for damages to its infrastructure caused by the blast.…

February 14, 2013

San Mateo Creek: Water leak kills fish

Source: http://www.sfgate.com, February 12, 2013
By: Peter Fimrite and Kevin Fagan

A dead fish floats in San Mateo Creek after coming in contact with chlorinated water. Photo: Lea Suzuki, The Chronicle

A broken pipe sent thousands of gallons of drinking water cascading into San Mateo Creek over the weekend, killing scores, possibly thousands, of fish from chlorine poisoning.

The dead fish began floating to the surface Saturday when a thousand gallons a minute of chlorinated water flowed down a forested hillside into the creek about a half-mile below Crystal Springs Reservoir, according to utility officials and residents.

Utility officials located the break in a 60-inch-diameter pipe next to a concrete bridge adjacent to Crystal Springs Road, near the border of Hillsborough and San Mateo. It took them eight hours to cut off the flow along a 4-mile section of pipeline, but water was still leaking out Monday at a rate of 200 gallons a minute, officials said.

The exact death toll has not yet been determined, but at least 30 fish could be seen lying on the bottom and floating along a 100-yard section of the creek, which rolls past stately homes beneath towering oak trees. Rare steelhead trout, which have been listed as threatened along the Central Coast under the Endangered Species Act since 1997, were believed to have been killed.…

December 27, 2011

TN Property Owners Await Judges Decision

Read here about some Tennessee property owners who are waiting on a judge’s decision 3 years after a sludge spill.…

July 26, 2011

SWEPCO reaches settlement on some challenges to Turk plant project

Source: http://www.news-journal.com, July 25, 2011

Southwestern Electric Power Co. on Monday announced it has reached a confidential settlement of lawsuits and other actions that challenged the construction of its John W. Turk, Jr. Power Plant about 15 miles from Texarkana, Ark.

Michael Morris, chairman and CEO of SWEPCO, said the action will allow the company to move forward with construction and plans to have the plant online by next year.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the plant’s neighbors regarding these long-standing issues,” said Michael G. Morris, AEP chairman and chief executive officer.

“Construction of the Turk Plant is 70 percent complete,” Morris said. “As we move forward with this important project, we will continue to demonstrate our commitment to providing affordable, reliable power for our customers while being good stewards of the environment.”

SWEPCO is a division of American Electric Co., based in Ohio. The Turk plant is located in Hempstead County, Ark., and is named after former SWEPCO president and Longivew resident, John W. Turk Jr.

Under terms of the settlement, the litigants are withdrawing all of their challenges to the plant, including the air permit and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit for the plant, and SWEPCO is making commitments regarding its future operations and environmental activities in the area.

Plaintiffs participating in the settlement are the Hempstead County Hunting Club Inc., Dr. Mary O’Boyle, Pat Schultz, the Pat Schultz Family Trust, YCR Limited Partnership, Yancey Reynolds and Charles Mills.

A stipulation of dismissal will be filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas in Texarkana. The settlement resolves all issues raised by these plaintiffs in their challenges to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit for the 600-megawatt Turk project, which is located about 15 miles northeast of Texarkana.

Additional filings will be made to withdraw the air permit appeal and terminate other cases.

Two litigants – the Sierra Club and the National Audubon Society/Audubon Arkansas – are continuing to challenge the air permit before the Arkansas Court of Appeals and the Corps permit in a companion case still pending before the U.S. District Court in Texarkana. SWEPCO will continue to aggressively defend the permits issued for the plant, Morris said.…

April 7, 2011

Utilities Knew Of Chrome-6 Contamination For Years

Source: Environmental Working Group, April 5, 2011
Posted on: http://www.publicworks.com

2004 Tests Found ‘Brockovich’ Chemical Nationwide

Some water utility representatives have protested Environmental Working Group’s report of laboratory tests that found worrisome levels of chromium-6, a suspected carcinogen, in the drinking water of 31 cities across the country.

Yet the tap water industry was worried enough about the contaminant to conduct its own extensive survey in 2004 that found clear evidence of widespread chromium-6 pollution in untreated source water. The survey, conducted by the Awwa Research Foundation (since renamed the Water Research Foundation), an offshoot of the American Water Works Association, obtained data on 341 source water samples from 189 utilities in 41 states. The conclusion: chromium-6 is common in American groundwater. …

March 30, 2011

Socorro-Horizon wastewater fight goes on

Source: El Paso Times (TX), March 28, 2011
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

A fight between the Horizon Municipal Utility District and the city of Socorro over a wastewater discharge project here continues.

Most recently, a district judge ruled the Horizon Municipal Utility District has to get proper permits to continue with the project.

However, Benny Davis, president of the Horizon Municipal Utility District board of directors, said the district is appealing the court’s decision.

The Horizon Municipal Utility District sued Socorro in November for allegedly not letting them finish a $2.2 million wastewater discharge project in the Mesa Spur Drain, an irrigation canal owned and operated by El Paso County Water Improvement District No. 1.

In a written statement, the city of Socorro said a judge ruled the utility district has to apply for the permits in order to discharge three million gallons of wastewater per day through a pipeline that flows into the Mesa Spur Drain.

Socorro officials said these rules are designed to protect the Lower Valley community’s public health and safety.…

December 17, 2010

Ohio Utility to Settle Clean Air Act Violations

Source: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Publication Date 05/18/2010
Source: PR Newswire US

Emissions to be cut by more than 34,000 tons annually

American Municipal Power (AMP), an Ohio non-profit utility, will permanently retire its Richard H. Gorsuch Station coal-fired power plant near Marietta under a settlement to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act, the Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today. As part of the settlement, AMP will also spend $15 million on an environmental mitigation project and pay a civil penalty of $850,000.

“The Justice Department is committed to strong enforcement of our nation’s environmental laws in order to protect human health and the environment,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This settlement will remove harmful emissions from this coal-fired power plant by tens of thousands of tons each year and will significantly benefit air quality. We are also pleased that AMP has shown creative leadership to implement a program that encourages efficient energy use.”…

August 16, 2010

Freon Contaminates Residential Water Supply Well

Acknowledgement to XL Environmental

THE CLAIM
Litigation was initiated by a water district against three companies for Freon contamination of a water supply well used by local residents. These three companies, in turn, filed a third-party claim against the insured as the prior owner of the facility from which the contamination discharged. Freon, which was leaking from an air conditioning system, impacted the water supply well. A $2,000,000 water treatment system was installed by the local authorities to treat the impacted water.

THE RESPONSE
XL’s environmental claims counsel and a technical consultant worked with the insured to investigate whether and when the Freon release occurred. Local defense counsel was retained to defend the insured’s interests in the litigation. A mechanical engineer was retained to assist in determining whether and how Freon contamination could have occurred. A hydrologist was retained to assist in evaluating technical issues involved in the source, timing, and extent of Freon contamination.

THE SOLUTION
Evidence uncovered during discovery revealed that Freon releases occurred prior to the insured’s ownership. There was no evidence established that a Freon release occurred during the insured’s ownership. The insured’s Pollution and Remediation Legal Liability Policy paid in excess of $425,000 for all costs and expenses associated with the litigation.…