May 16, 2019

Ongoing asbestos cleanup forces two schools to spend another year in temporary campuses

Source:, May 15, 2019
By: Marta Jewson

Two New Orleans charter schools will spend 2019-2020 in temporary facilities as multimillion-dollar asbestos remediation jobs stretch into another school year. The schools — Lafayette Academy and Rosenwald Collegiate Academy — had previously been expected to move into their permanent buildings this fall.

In a lawsuit filed Friday, the Orleans Parish School Board claims it has spent $5 million as a result of contractors’ mismanagement at Lafayette Academy’s South Carrollton Avenue building, which was closed last summer due to an asbestos release. The Choice Foundation, which runs Lafayette charter school, is OPSB’s co-plaintiff in the suit. The network says it’s spent $1.3 million replacing contaminated property.

Construction workers at Lafayette Academy botched an asbestos removal job last year. It was later discovered students had been on campus during previous asbestos work, potentially exposing them to the harmful material. A doctor later told parents their students were at little risk for asbestos-related illness.…

September 25, 2015

Unsettling dust: Hundreds of Portland homes demolished with asbestos inside

Source:, September 25, 2015
by: Fedor Zarkhin

Heather Dickinson watched in alarm last year as a man in a backhoe tore down the one-story Southeast Portland house next door, sending a plume of grayish-brown dust above neighboring rooftops.

The dust spread everywhere, creeping into Dickinson’s house, caking her home’s exterior walls, and billowing into the sky, she said. Three men, in addition to the man in the backhoe, were in the thick of the demolition wearing no respirator masks. Dickinson told her 8- and 6-year-old boys, who were mesmerized by the destruction, to come inside.

What she didn’t know and environmental regulators later learned: The contractor demolished the house with hundreds of square feet of asbestos-laden flooring and insulation inside.

With few exceptions, Oregon regulations require licensed contractors to remove asbestos before any demolition. Federal regulations says workers who might inhale cancer-causing asbestos fibers must wear protective gear such as hooded polyethylene coveralls and respirators.

The men working by hand at the Southeast Portland demolition site were likely exposed to asbestos fibers, a state workplace safety official said.

The case is unique only in that regulators found out about it.

Weak regulatory oversight has allowed contractors to tear down hundreds of homes in Portland without properly removing asbestos inside, an investigation by The Oregonian/OregonLive has found.…

September 11, 2015

Insurer must defend asbestos exposure lawsuit, California court rules

Source:, August 27, 2015
By: Amy B. Briggs, Donna M. Carlton, Christine Spinella Davis, David B. Killalea, Stephen T. Raptis and Robert H. Shulman, Manatt Phelps & Phillips LLP

Why it matters: A California federal judge has ruled that an insurer had a duty to defend an apartment owner and its construction contractor in connection with a suit brought by tenants who allege they were exposed to asbestos. Although the policy contained an exclusion for injuries that “related in any way” to asbestos, the underlying allegations included potentially covered claims, such as wrongful entry into the tenants’ unit. As such, the insurer was obligated to defend the entire suit. The insurer asserted that the asbestos exclusion still applied to those allegations because the insured’s employees made multiple entries into the building to abate the asbestos. But the court disagreed, finding that argument to be baseless, pointing out that the tenants did not claim in their suit that asbestos abatement was the reason for the alleged wrongful entries. Emphasizing that the test to prove a duty to defend is extremely lenient, the court explained that “even if one such entry could properly be excluded under the asbestos exclusion, [the insurer] has not established that there was no potential for coverage for the other alleged entries.”

Detailed discussion: In 2012, tenants of Parklyn Bay brought suit against the apartment owner and its contractor Oliver & Co., alleging, among other things, that they knowingly or negligently exposed the tenants to asbestos during a construction project.

The complaint also contained allegations that were unrelated to asbestos. For example, one of the allegations stated: “During the time that plaintiffs were out of their unit, defendants and/or workers employed by defendants made multiple entries into the Premises without prior notice, and without the consent of plaintiffs.”…

January 17, 2012

Asbestos Found in Wood Chips

Read here about low levels of asbestos that have been found in wood chips being sold by a Montana Superfund Site for use in landscaping.…

July 27, 2011

New York Jury Awards a $53-Million VerdictTo Asbestos Victim and Family

Source:, Mealey’s Litigation Report, 2/15/2002

In one of the largest compensatory verdicts for a single plaintiff in the history of Asbestos litigation, a New York jury on Feb. 8 awarded a Mesothelioma victim and his family a $53 million verdict for his Asbestos exposure as a brake mechanic (Patricia Brown, Individually and as Executrix of the Estate of Stephen Brown v. AC&S Corp. et al., No. 12658-00, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.)

After a monthlong trial in New York County Supreme Court, the jury awarded Stephen Brown”s family $53 million against 36 companies for his death from Mesothelioma as a result of exposure to Asbestos from work he performed as a brake mechanic.

The jury deliberated for a week before rendering the verdict and apportioning liability between 36 companies. A source told Mealey”s that Honeywell, successor to Bendix Corp., is liable for 45.75 percent of the $53 million verdict.…

April 11, 2011

Asbestos Found At NJ Hospital Site

Source:, April 5, 2011

What used to be the old Zurbrugg Hospital in Riverside, NJ is now a pile of rubble. And now the State Division of Criminal Justice says preliminary reports indicate industrial products containing asbestos were found during a search by hazardous materials crews last week.

The products were found in bags, some in a closed container and some buried underground. The state also says asbestos was found in loose material in a remaining structure that was the boiler room.

”Is my house safe, what about my health?” wonders Kathy Jacobs, whose property backs up to the site. She and other neighbors say they complained to local officials about conditions there for months. They were concerned last week when the state’s criminal investigation began, but they were more concerned on Tuesday with the asbestos findings.

”We shouldn’t have been breathing that stuff in,” said Etta Losito, referring to the demolition that started back in September.

The state says Riverside officials are not responsible for monitoring the asbestos removal but must have the proper paperwork in a permit file that shows asbestos was removed and properly disposed of. Officials do have that paperwork, but the town’s redevelopment attorney says he can’t vouch for the completeness of the reports.

”They washed their hands of it from the beginning,” says Jacobs, who believes township officials should have looked more closely at what was happening at the site.

The demolition company’s local office is closed. The site owner and developer, the Teicher Organization, is responsible for the remediation and will be monitored by the NJ Department of Health and Environmental Protection, as well as Division of Criminal Justice.

Residents who have concerns about their health can call the State’s Consumer Environmental and Occupational Health Line at 609-826-4920. No charges have been filed.…

March 28, 2011

Lynnfield asbestos removal company, owners indicted


A Lynnfield asbestos removal company, its owners and an employee have been indicted for the improper removal and disposal of asbestos for work performed on numerous public and private buildings in the city of Lynn, Beverly and Marblehead, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced in a press release.

AEI Environmental, LLC (AEI), David Harder, Jr., 47, and Julie Rosati, 51, of Lynnfield, were each indicted on charges of violating the Massachusetts Clean Air Act (12 counts), violating the Massachusetts Solid Waste Act (two counts) and evasion of unemployment insurance (four counts). Harder and Luiz Dias, 43, of Pelham, N.H., were also indicted on charges of filing false statements for the protection of the environment and conspiracy to file false environmental reports. Rosati was also charged with filing false statements for the protection of the environment.…

March 9, 2011

Going for Broke: How a copper giant plans to make the public pay for its toxic mess

Source:, May/June 2006
By: Marilyn Berlin Snell

At 75, Joe Piñón still wears a crisp white lab coat and fills prescriptions at the pharmacy he’s owned in El Paso, Texas, since 1960. His oversize glasses, helpful in deciphering a doctor’s chicken scratch, lend him an owlish appearance; his soft voice only hints that he’s also a Spanish speaker. In a crowded room, Piñón wouldn’t stand out. Yet his mild manner has not kept him from becoming a leader in his community and a threat to polluters.

Over the decades, Piñón has taken on the American Smelting and Refining Company (Asarco), a massive copper conglomerate that has a presence in more than 20 states, environmental liabilities estimated between $500 million and $1 billion, and its name attached to 19 Superfund sites around the country. Concerned that an Asarco smelter in El Paso seemed to be making people sick, Piñón set up a grassroots organization, spoke out when it was unpopular to do so, and fought the company in court. At times, he says, he felt like Don Quixote tilting at windmills in his lonely battle to get the metals giant to clean up a century-old toxic mess.

Today Piñón has plenty of allies. Scientists, environmental groups, city and state officials, and federal regulators all share his fears about the company’s pernicious legacy, and public opinion has completely turned around. Yet Asarco holds the trump card: It declared bankruptcy in the summer of 2005. Now, as Piñón says with a slight tinge of disgust, “the company can just walk away without cleaning up.” …