News and Views

September 4, 2018

Firms face indemnity insurance exclusions on Grenfell-style projects

Source: https://www.newcivilengineer.com, August 28, 2018
By: Emily Ashwell

Consultants which have worked on buildings with cladding similar to that used on Grenfell Tower are being refused professional indemnity insurance for some of their projects, New Civil Engineer can reveal.

Insurers are asking some to review 12 years worth of these projects and identify the risk posed by that cladding when renewing their professional indemnity insurance on buildings with cladding.

In some cases, insurers are refusing to cover these projects, leading to fears that these firms could be open to legal action if the client then decides the cladding is a risk.

Dame Judith Hackitt led a review into building regulations following the Grenfell Tower fire last year. She called for fundamental reform of the construction industry but stopped short of a recommendation to ban combustible cladding.

August 17, 2018

Asbestos has been found in Playskool crayons sold at Dollar Tree (DLTR)

Source: Business Insider, August 8, 2018
Posted on: http://www.advisen.com

  • A pack of crayons sold at Dollar Tree has tested positive for traces of asbestos, according to a consumer watchdog group.
  • The US Public Interest Research Group is advising Dollar Tree to recall the crayons and contact customers to let them know.
  • A Dollar Tree spokesperson said that the crayons had passed all of its legal and safety requirements but did not comment on whether the items would be recalled.

A consumer watchdog group is warning customers that some crayons sold at Dollar Tree have tested positive for traces of asbestos.

On Tuesday, US Public Interest Research Group released its annual report about the safety of school supplies. Dollar Tree’s Playskool crayons, specifically the green-colored crayon sold in each $1 pack, were highlighted as testing positive for traces of tremoline, a kind of asbestos. It recommends that Dollar Tree recall the “asbestos-tainted crayons” and contact customers to warn them about the crayons.

Dollar Tree did not comment on whether it would be recalling these items, but told Business Insider that the crayons “passed all legal and safety requirements.”…

August 16, 2018

Newburgh sues feds, state, manufacturers over toxic water

Source: http://www.recordonline.com, August 7, 2018
By: Leonard Sparks

Newburgh is suing the federal government, New York, state agencies and manufacturers it blames for the contamination of the city’s primary water supply, which has been closed for more than two years due to high levels of a chemical associated with cancers, low infant birth weight and other health problems.

A suit filed Monday accuses the U.S. Department of Defense and Air Force, the state Department of Transportation, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the National Guard and 18 other defendants of allowing perfluorooctane sulfonate to poison Washington Lake through the use of firefighting foams at Stewart Air National Guard Base and New York Stewart International Airport.

According to the complaint, the airport and base lacked measures or had inadequate or “failing” protections in place to prevent the leaking of the chemicals into the lake’s watershed. The airport and base are on DOT-owned land.

The suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, also accuses 3M and other companies that manufactured the class of chemicals that includes PFOS of knowing the environmental and health risks since at least the early 1970s.…

August 14, 2018

Galesburg settles lawsuit with engineering firm

Source: http://www.galesburg.com, August 6, 2018
By: Rebecca Susmarski

A lawsuit the city of Galesburg filed against the engineering firm it hired for the Oquawka water treatment plant came to an end Monday.

The Galesburg City Council agreed during its regularly scheduled meeting to settle the city’s lawsuit against AECOM, the parent company of engineering firm Consoer Townsend Envirodyne Engineers Inc. AECOM will pay the city $73,710 in accordance with the settlement.

The city sued AECOM in June 2015 to recoup money lost due to defects in the design of the water treatment plant, according to The Register-Mail’s archives. The city contracted with Consoer Townsend Envirodyne Engineers Inc. in April 2007 for design services on the water plant, which commenced operations in 2010.

“The plant was built and began operating, after which, the city alleges, a host of problems appeared, including malfunction of water pumps within the plant, corrosion of ductwork and electrical components, insufficient heating, problems adjusting water flows within pipes, problems with drainage, various difficulties with the placement of pipes and other equipment, and several missing devices that were required but not in the original plans,” according to the lawsuit.…

August 10, 2018

Contractor fights faulty Portsmouth housing construction claims

Source: http://www.seacoastonline.com, August 3, 2018
By: Elizabeth Dinan

A contractor accused in a federal lawsuit of faulty construction at the 100-unit Wamesit Place housing complex filed a court motion denying liability, while reporting if it is found liable, so too should five other contractors who worked there.

The lawsuit was filed by Portsmouth attorney John Bosen, on behalf of the Wamesit Place Family Housing Limited Partnership, and claims poor construction caused mold to grow in apartments, that firewalls “are inadequate and/or nonexistent throughout the apartments” and remediation will require a “massive” amount of work and the temporary relocation of some residents.

One of the defendants, Portland Builders, filed a July 30 notice with the U.S. District Court of New Hampshire stating it was contract manager in 2011 and 2012 for renovations that included roofs, windows, doors and siding at homes throughout the neighborhood. The contractor reiterates Wamesit’s claim that defects were discovered, beginning in 2015, that led to mold and the discovery of code violations.

Portland Builders, in its new court filing, states it performed its work according to the scope of its agreement with Wamesit, but if a jury finds it liable for damages, it will ask a jury to share responsibility with Goduti-Thomas Architects, Veteran’s Construction, Eastern Mechanical, Corey Electric, Bio Environments and an unknown cable company.

The contractor alleges the Portland, Maine, architect designed the plans and specifications it followed and the construction company was contracted to “perform services related to the firewalls.” The mechanical company performed plumbing and ventilation work at Wamesit, the electric company installed bathroom ventilation fans and the environmental company conducted mold testing and remediation. The unknown cable (or security) company did work at the housing complex after Portland Builders was done, which “damaged firewalls,” the contractor’s court motion claims.

Based on those allegations, Portland Builders reports to the court that it “is entitled to have the jury apportion liability during the trial of this matter.”

Wamesit’s amended suit filed in April reports that between 2015 and 2017, mold was found in apartments, “that is growing due to the condensation of humid exhaust air accumulating and saturating insulation in ceilings and attics.” Mold remediation was conducted by third parties and before insulation could be replaced, it would have to remove all insulation, including in building overhangs, and clean all surfaces in ceilings and attics. All ceiling drywall will also have to be replaced and proper re-insulation will be needed, in addition to new bathroom fans and duct work to roof vents, it’s alleged.

Tenants in the apartments will need to be temporarily relocated during the repairs and Wamesit seeks an unspecified monetary award to cover related costs. Wamesit is alleging breach of contract and negligence in the federal suit.

Portland Builders previously countered that change orders eliminated attic insulation, ventilation “and other work that was part of the original contract.”

The Portsmouth Housing Authority manages the Wamesit Place apartments on Greenleaf Avenue and its director, Craig Welch, previously told the Portsmouth Herald he can’t discuss the pending litigation and he assured no residents’ health is at risk.…

August 7, 2018

Contractor fights faulty Portsmouth housing construction claims

Source: http://www.seacoastonline.com, August 3, 2018
By: Elizbeth Dinan

A contractor accused in a federal lawsuit of faulty construction at the 100-unit Wamesit Place housing complex filed a court motion denying liability, while reporting if it is found liable, so too should five other contractors who worked there.

The lawsuit was filed by Portsmouth attorney John Bosen, on behalf of the Wamesit Place Family Housing Limited Partnership, and claims poor construction caused mold to grow in apartments, that firewalls “are inadequate and/or nonexistent throughout the apartments” and remediation will require a “massive” amount of work and the temporary relocation of some residents.

One of the defendants, Portland Builders, filed a July 30 notice with the U.S. District Court of New Hampshire stating it was contract manager in 2011 and 2012 for renovations that included roofs, windows, doors and siding at homes throughout the neighborhood. The contractor reiterates Wamesit’s claim that defects were discovered, beginning in 2015, that led to mold and the discovery of code violations.…

August 3, 2018

Oregon creosote plant agrees to pay $1.25M in odor lawsuit

Read here about a crosote plant in Oregon that will pay over $1 million to settle a lawsuit over odor emissions.…

August 1, 2018

Pipe explosion NYC: What to know about asbestos, health risks

Source: https://www.amny.com, July 20, 2018
By: Lauren Cook

Anyone who was covered in material from the blast should bag their clothing and shower, Con Edison said.

People who were near the steam pipe explosion in the Flatiron District Thursday morning are being urged to take precautions after debris from the blast tested positive for asbestos.

Tests conducted by Con Edison and the city Department of Environmental Protection confirmed there was asbestos in the steam line casing, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“That’s obviously a real concern to us,” de Blasio added.

Con Edison said anyone who was covered in material or debris from the explosion should bag their clothing and shower. Decontamination tents were set up at 22nd Street and Broadway as well as 19th Street and Broadway for anyone who was exposed to the steam to be evaluated and drop off their clothing.

Hours after the explosion, air quality tests showed no “meaningful presence” of asbestos, de Blasio said. The concern, according to the mayor, is with the debris that the blast created, some of which could still be seen on nearby building facades and on the street Thursday afternoon.

July 30, 2018

S.F. Shipyard homeowners sue developer

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, July 25, 2018
Posted on: http://www.advisen.com

The developer of the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, already beleaguered by a cleanup scandal and slumping condominium sales, now has another problem to worry about: lawsuits by homeowners.

On Tuesday, attorneys for two families who bought homes in the Bayview district development in 2015 and 2016 filed lawsuits against both the developer and the environmental engineering firm accused of botching the cleanup of the Superfund site, which was home to the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory from 1946 to 1969.

In the lawsuits, the homeowners, Theo Ellington and his wife Victoria Trusty, and Linda Parker Pennington and husband Greg Pennington, claim that developer FivePoint and property owner Lennar failed to disclose to prospective residents the extent of contamination of the property. They also claim the developer didn’t inform home buyers about allegations that Tetra Tech, the environmental engineering company that was paid more than $250 million for the cleanup, had faked soil samples in order to pass off parts of the shipyard as being less contaminated than they were.

The lawsuits state that the “defendants are all responsible for the loss of value in plaintiffs’ homes due to the continuing toxic nature of the Superfund and former nuclear testing site upon and near plaintiffs’ homes, and the ensuing health and other issues that waste has caused, is causing, and will continue to cause until it is remediated.”…

July 27, 2018

Toxins found in Upper Dublin drinking water; EPA holds forum to address concerns

Source: https://6abc.com, July 26, 2018
By: Vernon Odum

The tap water in Upper Dublin Township is widely believed by local residents to be dangerously contaminated by firefighting agents from military bases in this area of Montgomery County.

The acronym for the contaminating chemical in question is PFAS, which stands for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances.

According to the EPA’s website, the chemicals in PFAS are “very persistent in the environment and in the human body,” meaning they accumulate and stay in the body for a long period of time.

“This a Frankenstein’s monster kind of chemical,” said Upper Dublin Resident Mark Cuker. “It doesn’t break down when you drink it. It stays in your body and causes adverse health effects.”…