January 19, 2018

San Jose Land Slated For High Rise is Contaminated: Lawsuit

Source: https://www.nbcbayarea.com, January 18, 2018
By: Damian Trujillo

San Jose city leaders are targeting a vacant lot near City Hall for development of a high rise, but critics say the land is contaminated with at least one toxic chemical, and they’ve filed a lawsuit to ensure it’s cleaned up.

The site on Fourth and Saint John streets in downtown San Jose is prime real estate. Officials envision a building that would add hundreds of units to the student housing demand at San Jose State University.

But critics say something scary resides underneath: cancer causing chemicals.

Attorney Tanya Gulesserian says there’s “a leaking underground storage tank, which caused contamination on the property site” that once featured a gas station.

A group of union workers released a Santa Clara County document from 2006 that states the land is contaminated with benzene, a carcinogen. They filed a lawsuit, demanding all construction plans stop until adequate testing is conducted.

“Require the city to disclose, analyze and mitigate potentially significant impacts so this site can be safely developed,” Gulesserian said during a news conference Thursday.

The lawsuit says the city read the county report but ruled that re-zoning the property for joint commercial and residential use would result in no significant impact. The city attorney’s office said the project isn’t ready for an environmental impact report, but one will be conducted at the appropriate time.

Paul Oller is a plaintiff in the suit, as a neighbor of the property and retired union plumber.

“This is very personal to me,” Oller said. “I mean, it’s a nasty place. When you break the blacktop up, you have some serious dirt underneath there.”

Oller says he doesn’t want bulldozers digging up the land that contains cancer causing chemicals.

Critics say they’re not against the development; they just want scientific proof that the land is safe before the bulldozers arrive.…

December 4, 2017

Polluted soil is being removed from this Fort Worth park, a decade after it was discovered

Source: http://www.star-telegram.com, December 4, 2017
By: Sandra Baker

Soil containing arsenic and another known cancer-causing chemical in Greenbriar Park is being removed more than a decade after the contamination was discovered.

Crews are getting two sites in the south Fort Worth park ready for the removal of about 6,000 cubic yards of dirt that contain low levels of arsenic and a hydrocarbon used as a base for coatings and paint, in roofing and paving, and as a binder in asphalt products.

Although a 2005 report by environmental consultants concluded the “risk to human health is minimal and no further action should be necessary,” the city has changed course and will now remove the soil.

The remediation is being triggered by a Parks Department expansion of its service center on James Avenue, on the park’s west side. The expansion will take in about 4.5-acres of the park.

“It became an important project, but it wasn’t necessarily urgent,” said Cody Whittenburg, Fort Worth’s environmental manager. “We’re now close to getting rid of it.”

Greenbriar Park, a 49-acre park about four miles south of downtown, will not be closed while the work is being done.…

September 27, 2017

Legal fees rise as San Francisco’s Millennium Tower continues to sink

Source: http://www.constructiondive.com, September 25, 2017
By: Kim Slowey

  • The San Francisco Bay Area’s Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) has spent $3.5 million in legal fees since December to defend against claims that construction of its Transbay Transit Center contributed to the sinking and leaning of the 58-story Millennium Tower, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The TJPA said the fees could continue to climb, but it expects Transbay contractors or their insurers to reimburse a large share.
  • Developer Millennium Partners alleges that construction crews for the transit center, which is being built near the Millennium Tower, pumped out millions of gallons of groundwater and weakened the soil to the point that the high rise settled more rapidly and significantly than expected.
  • Engineers hired by a group that includes Millennium Partners said the sinking can be stopped by drilling piles into the bedrock below the building at a cost of up to $150 million. An engineering report paid for by the city found that the building could withstand a magnitude 8.0 earthquake.
August 7, 2017

Exide Cleanup Under Fire for Leaving Homes With Contamination

A state agency says their plan meets federal standards

Young children play in the back yard under the shade of an avocado tree. The kids dig holes while their grandfather makes homemade guacamole. It’s a scene that’s played out at the Mariz family home in Maywood for years.

But no more.

“They found lead throughout my front yard but not as bad as the backyard. The backyard is worse,” said Reynaldo Mariz.

Lead levels are so high that state officials have told Mariz to stay out of his backyard until it’s cleaned. But until recently, his grand kids played in the contaminated dirt all the time.

“What’s going to happen to the kids after they go through that?” wonders Mariz.

Angelo Bellomo, deputy director for health protection for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, says children exposed to lead are at serious risk for long-term health issues.

“It effects brain development. It can cause developmental disabilities, in lower levels, over prolonged periods of time. It could decrease the learning capacity of individuals. So the impacts of lead, even at low levels can be devastating to communities,” said Bellomo.…

July 14, 2017

The Case of the Misplaced Air-Handling Unit

Source: http://www.ecmweb.com, December 1, 2008
By: Leonard Greene, P.E., Orbital Engineering and Consulting

The Case of the Misplaced Air-Handling UnitMaintenance technician makes shocking discovery while performing routine service call on middle school’s A/C unit.

When the work order came across his desk, it seemed like any other routine maintenance call to the school district’s service technician — certainly nothing out of the ordinary. The complaint was not uncommon for the old middle school that housed the problem: a noisy above-ceiling air handler.

After working for the district for several years, the technician had visited the building in question many times prior on various service calls. Arriving onsite just after the students had been dismissed for the day, he thought to himself it was probably just a bad fan belt. Little did he know that the air-conditioning (A/C) unit he was about to troubleshoot was not the same one he’d worked on in the past — a minor detail that would prove to cause him major trouble as the job unfolded.…

June 27, 2017

$200K Awarded for Parker Seal Cleanup

Source: http://www.bereaonline.com, June 26, 2017

A $200,000 grant has been awarded for the environmental clean-up of the former Parker Seal plant in Berea. The Brownfields Program grant was secured from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by the Kentucky River Foothills Development Council Inc. (KRFDC) in partnership with Fahe in Berea.

Located at 103 Lewis Street, the Parker Seal property is said to be impacted by trichloroethene and debris that remained after the plant closed in 2001. The Brownfields Program provides EPA funding for cleanup and reuse of contaminated properties.

Part of the proceeds from the grant will allow the KRFDC to stage neighborhood forums informing local residents about the remediation process. The meetings will also allow KRFDC to gather citizen input regarding the kinds of economic development projects that could result once the chemicals and debris are cleared from the site.

Potential uses of the property include a senior daycare center, a service center with business incubator space, a food distribution/farmer’s market where local producers can sell their goods, and possibly a community meeting center. Nothing will be decided, however, until local residents are allowed to give their input on the plan. “There will be a lot of community engagement,” said Fahe representative Aaron Phelps. “There won’t be something coming into the neighborhood that people don’t want.”…

April 5, 2017

Carbon Monoxide Leak in Michigan Hotel Kills Child, Sickens Others

Read here about a carbon monoxide lead at a hotel in Michigan that killed one and sickened others.…

November 17, 2016

What Contractors Can Get in Soft Pollution Liability Insurance Market

Source: http://www.enr.com, November 2, 2016
By: Scott Van Voorhis and Richard Korman

Are companies taking advantage of opportunity as premiums hit low points?

Pollution insurance for contractors has never been cheaper, with prices down 50% in the past five years, say brokers and contractors. Even after AIG in January pulled out of the market for insuring specific sites, the industry giant chose to continue providing coverage to contractors. So, that didn’t narrow the field.

“Fifteen years ago, there were only two or three companies providing this coverage,” says James Blasting, senior consultant with Arcadis, the water and environmental engineering company. Now, about 40 companies crowd the market segment. “The competition has driven prices down,” says Blasting.

Premiums can’t go any lower, brokers say, and it is unlikely that a $5-million-a-year contractor can renew its policy and expect its premiums to go down 50%. But, in general, contractors can buy much more coverage.

Over the past decade, insurers have diversified the array of pollution types and triggers covered to fill gaps created by exclusions in contractors’ general liability policies. At the same time, insurers have pumped the coverage limits far higher than anyone has seen before. Another sign of the buyers’ market is the way the provisions that extend the effective policy coverage have stretched further into the future. Depending on what they do and how they operate, contractors can buy 10-year completed-operations coverage; further, if the policy for a single project by a larger company is written on a claims-made basis, the extended reporting period can be as long as 15 years. One insurance broker, Don Preston, co-owner of ARC-ENG Insurance Services Inc., said those terms are more likely to be available if the carrier doesn’t have to rely on reinsurance limits that could constrain what it offers.

August 23, 2016

Lead Contamination In Indiana East Chicago Public Housing Soil Displaces Residents

Source: http://www.ibtimes.com, August 22, 2016
By: Alexandra Suarez

Residents of the West Calumet Housing Complex in East Chicago, Indiana, were completely devastated by the news that their housing units would be demolished after it was revealed that the topsoil in the area was contaminated with lead.

In July, residents of the complex were told that the building was the site of lead contamination and that children should avoid playing with the soil, the Associated Press reported.

The EPA posted signs in late July, warning that the topsoil in West Calumet as well as in the soil east to Parrish Avenue, north to Chicago Avenue and south of 151st Street, the Chicago Tribune reported on July 29.

The warnings stated that the lead was most likely from the industrial operations at U.S.S. Lead, a copper and lead melting and processing plant, which began operations in the early 1900s. According to the EPA, the plant was closed in 1985. The U.S.S. Lead building was located right across the street from the housing development on 151st. Street.

State Sen. Lonnie Randolph started receiving calls from tenant about the EPA signs.

“Somebody dropped the ball somewhere,” Randolph told ABC News. “Maybe it was intentional, or maybe by mistake. Maybe it was negligence.”

Since then, EPA contractors spread a rubber mulch as a temporary covering so tenants can avoid contact with the soil.

Days after Mayor Anthony Copeland wrote letter asking residents to relocate temporarily, the city sent a follow up letter stating that it planned on demolishing the complex and that the low-income housing residents find new housing as soon as possible.

More than 1,000 residents are reeling from the news. A hard move-out date has not yet been given.

Residents were told they would be issued “tenant protection vouchers,” that should help them pay rent at new locations.

The news of the lead contamination in the soil follows only months after the crisis in Flint, Michigan. Where the city’s drinking water became contaminated with lead and other toxins, adversely affecting over 98,000 residents.…

August 12, 2016

Edgewater gets update on Quanta cleanup

Source: http://www.northjersey.com, August 12, 2016
By: Svetlana Shkolnikova

Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency and Honeywell International Inc. sought to ease residents’ concerns about the impending remediation of the Quanta Superfund site on Aug. 2 with a pair of information sessions on various health safeguards that will protect the public during a two-year, $78 million cleanup.

Site clearing, debris removal and demolition on the 5.5-acre site is due to in September while the full-scale solidification of 150,000 cubic yards of soil laden with coal tar, arsenic, waste oil and other contaminants will start in early 2017. Four deep recovery wells will also be installed during the remediation work to prevent liquid contaminants from traveling.

The entombment process, which involves mixing cement and slag into the soil to harden it into an impermeable mass, will kick up some dust and amplify the distinct odor of coal tar, said officials, but teams will be on hand to spray down the work areas with either water or foam to keep both at a minimum.

An air quality monitoring system will track the level of dust and 29 site-related chemicals in the air every five minutes during the work day and results will be posted on the project website, quantaremediation .com, the next day.

Should activity on the site produce concentrations of dust that exceed government action levels, the project’s health and safety officer would be able to shut down all work and in a worst-case scenario, alert local authorities, said Steve Coladonato, Honeywell’s remediation manager for the site.…