News and Views

July 12, 2019

Contamination could drive new Miami courthouse costs past $1.2B

Source: https://www.constructiondive.com, July 11, 2019
by: Kim Slowey

Dive Brief:

  • A new federal and civil courthouse in downtown Miami is going to cost at least $1.2 billion, Miami Today reported, but that doesn’t include the costs of ridding the new site of arsenic or lease payments for the property.
  • The $1.2 billion of payments to the selected public-private partnership would be spread out over 30 years, and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez told county commissioners that other services would have to be cut to pay for the project, which would be built on an old railway yard owned by the Miami-Dade Department of Transportation and Public Works, unless they raised taxes.
  • There are no estimates yet as to how much it will cost to remediate the new site’s groundwater and soil. Gimenez told the commission, however, that discussions with potential P3 groups have yielded ideas about how to cut costs.
July 12, 2019

PFAS: FIVE FAST FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW

Source: https://ewma.com

PFAS is a top NJDEP contaminant of emerging concern. They pose potential environmental and public health concerns.

1)     Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a subset of man-made fluorinated chemicals containing carbon and fluorine atoms in a chain chemical structure, including PFOS, PFOA, PFNA and many others (thousands, in fact!). These three PFAS chemicals mentioned have been the most extensively studied to date.

2)     PFAS have unique chemical properties, which have been utilized in commercial and industrial applications and products across the United States since the 1940s. PFAS sources are found associated with chemical manufacturing plants, commercial airports, and textiles. PFAS are found in an extensive range of everyday consumer products, including firefighting foam, Teflon cookware and waterproof clothing, to name a few.

3)     PFAS are extremely resistant to biological/chemical degradation and bioaccumulate in the environment and wildlife. In addition, their high solubility and mobility in surface and groundwater pose a significant challenge to control sources that remediate them.

4)     A main concern of PFAS exposure is the contamination to drinking water aquifers. Though there is NO national standard, NJ and other states have set standards in low parts per trillion (ppt) concentrations. NJ has issued standards for three of the chemicals – PFOS, PFOA and PFNA – for both groundwater and drinking water: 10 ppt, 10 ppt and 13 ppt, respectively.

5)     The PFAS field sampling procedure is extremely stringent, including specialized hygiene requirements and utilization of unique testing equipment so as not to skew readings.…

July 12, 2019

Pig intestines cause traffic delays in downtown Kansas City

Source: https://www.kctv5.com, July 11, 2019
By: David Harris, Savannah Rudicel

Piles of animal product littered the highway for hours. People walking around downtown Thursday morning saw, and smelled, what was left of the spilled pig intestines along Interstate 670.

“It made me gag the first time I smelled it,” Marisa Deitrich, resident, said.

“It’s pretty pungent with a twang to it. It’s foul,” Jesse White, onlooker, said laughing.

From Chopper 5, you can see the mess stretched out a few hundred feet.

From the ground, you can see it all up close.

All lanes of westbound Interstate 670 past 71 Highway were blocked.

Police said they don’t know how the guts spilled out of the trailer, but there wasn’t a wreck.

“I live in northwest Pennsylvania, so I’m used to seeing them plow snow, but not pig intestines,” Jake Welsh, onlooker, said.

So how did crews try to cut the mess and the smell? Sawdust and powdered soap. It helped. But KCTV5 News found out first hand, it wasn’t a perfect solution.

If you’re wondering where all of that spillage went, MoDOT said the company transporting the load came back to shovel it away.

MoDOT said the traffic backup Thursday morning was at least three miles down Interstate 70. You can see more of the video from Chopper 5 on KCTV5’s Facebook page.…

July 11, 2019

Fifth Legionnaire’s disease lawsuit filed against Mount Carmel Health

Source: https://www.nbc4i.com, July 9, 2019

Another lawsuit has been filed against Mount Carmel Grove City Hospital in connection with a recent outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease at the new facility.

Patient Ronald Biegler claims in the suit that he got sick while undergoing tests at the hospital back in mid May.

This is the fifth lawsuit connected to the Legionnaires’ outbreak.

In total, 16 cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been diagnosed in Mount Carmel Grove City patients.

The family of Dee Rezes filed a wrongful death lawsuit on June 27 against Mount Carmel Health and Mount Carmel Grove City after Rezes died after being diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease while a patient at the hospital.

In a response to the new lawsuit, Mount Carmel issued the following statement:

We have not been made aware of a new lawsuit; however, we apologize to everyone who was affected by legionella and are committed to doing what is fair and right for them. There is nothing more important to us than the safety of our patients, colleagues and visitors. Every day we are trusted with people’s lives and we take that responsibility seriously. We are implementing a long-term solution to ensure legionella is effectively controlled and that this doesn’t happen again.

July 11, 2019

Legionnaires’ Disease in Northern NJ: A Possible Link to Water Treatment Failures?

Source: https://www.nrdc.org, July 10, 2019
By: Erik D. Olson

Recent months have brought a spate of Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks across northern New Jersey. In May, press outletsreported that at least three Newark residents had been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. Three weeks later, officials in neighboring Union County announced that five people had died from Legionnaires’ disease, with more than twenty infected across the county. And back in 2018, Legionella bacteria was found in nine schools in West Orange and at least two cases were reported in 2018 at a hotel near Newark airport. What is causing these outbreaks, and could they be related to Newark’s violations of numerous federal rules designed to protect drinking water? More information and a comprehensive state (and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) investigation is needed.…

July 11, 2019

More Defendants to Settle Lawsuits in FIU Bridge Collapse

Source: https://www.nbcmiami.com, July 10, 2019
By: Tony Pipitone

Six more companies involved in the failed FIU pedestrian bridge project – including the bridge designer, FIGG Bridge Engineers — have agreed in principle to settle lawsuits against them and pay an as-yet undisclosed sum of money into a pool set aside for victims as part of the bankruptcy of the general contractor Munilla Construction Management.

The deal was announced Wednesday morning in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, but will be formalized in federal bankruptcy court, after which lawyers involved say the full amount of funds available to victims would be disclosed.

MCM’s insurers have already contributed $42 million to that pool and retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Fred Lewis has been meeting confidentially with parties as he decides how to apportion that money among the 20 people and estates that have filed wrongful death or personal injury claims in state court.

Six people died when the span collapsed over Southwest 8th Street in March 2018 as a work crew was carrying out FIGG’s orders to re-stress steel bars running through a truss that began cracking five days earlier, soon after the span was lifted from its roadside construction site and placed onto a pylon and pier.…

July 11, 2019

3M Investigating Potential Contamination at North Alabama Plant

Source: https://www.insurancejournal.com, July 10, 2019

3M says it is expanding an investigation of possible chemical contamination around its north Alabama plant in Decatur.

WAAY-TV reports the company issued a statement Monday saying it’s looking at old landfill sites in Morgan and Lawrence counties to test for waste that may include substances called PFAS. The landfills date back to the 1950s.

The company has operated a manufacturing plant in Decatur since 1961. Earlier this year it settled a lawsuit filed by a north Alabama water system over contamination by chemicals from the same family.

Federal rules prompted a brief scare in 2016 when the water system told customers not to drink the water because of chemical contamination.

Decatur’s water system says it knows about the 3M review, and it says its water remains safe to drink.…

July 11, 2019

Bourbon Spilled from Kentucky Jim Beam Warehouse Heading to Ohio River

Source: https://www.insurancejournal.com, July 10, 2019

Bourbon that leaked from a fire that destroyed a Jim Beam barrel warehouse in Kentucky is making its way to the Ohio River.

State environmental officials say they’re assessing wildlife impacts and doing fish kill counts along the waterways near the Woodford County facility.

The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet says in a release on social media that an “alcohol plume” from the bourbon runoff in the Kentucky River is approximately 23 miles (37 kilometers) long.

The cabinet says the bourbon should dissipate very quickly once it reaches the much larger body of water.

Officials estimate about 45,000 barrels of bourbon were destroyed in the fire that started Tuesday. It was extinguished over the weekend.…

July 11, 2019

How to Handle Environmental Release Investigations

Source: EHS Today, July 3, 2019
Posted on: https://www.advisen.com

Any kind of environmental release at one of your facilities creates the potential for distracting regulatory investigations, stinging fines and costly litigation. Some of that can be ameliorated by conducting the right kind of internal investigation of a leak immediately after it occurs.

Internal investigations may be driven by a company’s desire to identify the root cause of an incident, verify an unconfirmed allegation, be a responsible corporate citizen, address liability concerns, or take remedial measures to prevent similar incidents from reoccurring, among many other reasons.

“These incidents can result in governmental enforcement actions, third-party civil suits, individual liability and significant reputational damage, so another key purpose of an internal investigation is often for the company to obtain legal advice based on the investigation findings,” says attorney Paul Drucker of the law firm of Barnes & Thornburg LLP.

Although you want to conduct such an investigation as swiftly as is practical, it is necessary that you know all of the steps that need to be taken and bases touched to avoid many of the pitfalls that can result from not taking sufficient care, Drucker cautions.…

July 9, 2019

New tests begin to detect spread of PFAS contamination at Vermont Air Guard base

A second round of testing is now underway across the Burlington airport to see whether chemical contamination at the Vermont Air National Guard base has spread underground beyond the security perimeter.

A first round of soil and water testing, in 2017, confirmed the presence of polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals. Guard leaders say the contamination came from firefighting foam used by the base’s fire department for years. That foam was discontinued in 2015, a Vermont Guard spokeswoman said.

Col. David Smith, the 158th Fighter Wing Commander, said it’s important to note that residential neighborhoods who surround the base utilize public water supplies and are not impacted by potentially leaching underground chemicals.

The new sampling will involve boring up to 100 feet underground, to test groundwater around the base.

Samples will be sent to a laboratory in California for analyst. Results will be released publicly next winter.

Officials said those results are expected to guide development of a remediation effort around the base, which could run into the millions of dollars.

Smith said no Guard personnel had become ill because of the contamination. The base has installed a new carbon filtration system.…