News and Views

November 13, 2018

‘What did we do?’ Families anxious about chemicals found in tap water

Source:, August 16, 2018
By: Nadia Kounang

It’s been about three weeks since Tammy Cooper last drank water from her tap. That’s when she saw a warning on Facebook for residents of her small Western Michigan town to stop drinking the water.

In Michigan, water main breaks aren’t unusual, although they’re more common in winter. It didn’t immediately strike Cooper as out of the ordinary to not be able to drink the water.

But the Facebook message made no mention of the run-of-the-mill breaks or chloroform warnings; rather, the city’s July 26 post said, “We have just been informed this afternoon by the [Michigan Department of Environmental Quality] that the PFAS level in a City well is 1400 ppt. The limit being 70 ppt.”

It advised using bottled water for cooking, drinking and making baby formula.

“I immediately felt really sick,” Cooper said.…

November 13, 2018

NBC10 Boston Responds: New House Nightmare

Source:, November 7, 2018
By: Leslie Gaydos

Christie and Mike D’Andrea are rebuilding their lives after they lost their home.

“It’s like having a house fire, you lose everything, its tragic,” said homeowner Christie D’Andrea.“You say your house is full of mold and you’ve lost everything people kind of look at you and go, what?”

The couple closed on a newly constructed $481,000 home on Birch Street in Pembroke in Dec. 2014.

They moved in on New Year’s Day and Mike proposed in the front yard. But their new beginning took a disastrous turn weeks later when they discovered mold in the attic and water in the basement.

“I just wish we had never bought it, it turned into such a nightmare,” said D’Andrea.“I wish we had never found the listing. I wish we never embarked on this.”

The D’Andrea’s moved out of the house earlier this year.

They were having health issues they blamed on toxic mold exposure. Mike said he had lost sixty pounds and Christie complained of numbness in her hands and arms. They say their doctor advised them to move out and take nothing with them.…

November 9, 2018

Transbay Terminal: Cause of cracked steel beams could take weeks longer to determine

Source:, November 9, 2018
By: Erin Baldassari

Testing of two cracked beams at the Salesforce Transit Center will extend into next week and the results could prompt further testing, officials said Thursday, pushing the estimated date for determining a cause of the failures to the end of the month or later.

Once a cause is determined, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, the public agency in charge of construction and maintenance of the facility, along with a peer review panel, will determine a permanent fix to shore the cracked beams and reopen the center, said Dennis Turchon, the authority’s senior construction manager.

The $2.2 billion transit center opened on Aug. 12, only to abruptly close six weeks later after workers discovered large cracks in two steel beams that straddle Fremont Street. The beams, which are on the center’s third floor, support the rooftop garden and bus deck.

Officials also closed the section of Fremont Street below the building until crews constructed a temporary fix that allowed the street to reopen last month. Bus riders are using the temporary terminal that had been in place during the center’s construction.

There’s still no estimate on when the center will reopen, a date that will be determined after officials determine a plan for repairs.

Turchon said crews completed a series of onsite tests of the beams before removing samples for testing in a laboratory to determine the steel’s strength and hardness.

“A very important element that we’ll find out very soon is those core samples,” Turchon said. “That is a very important element to weigh into the matrix of solutions.”

But, the authority’s board of directors on Thursday also called for a more thorough review of the entire facility, also by a peer review panel.

“Given that we found (these cracks) just by chance, it begs the question of what other things are in the building that we should be looking at,” said Ed Reiskin, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s director of transportation and a member of the authority’s board. “The emergence of the issue puts at stake the credibility of the entire project.”

The beams used American-made steel and were fabricated by a highly-regarded Stockton-based company, Herrick Corporation, which worked on the Transamerica Pyramid, 181 Fremont Street and the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco.

Skanska USA, a subcontractor of Webcor-Obayashi that was responsible for overseeing the procurement of steel at the transit center, filed a lawsuit in May against the authority, alleging the authority mismanaged the project and provided documents that were flawed or incomplete, causing delays and resulting in extra work for which Skanksa was not reimbursed.

The center’s general contractor, Webcor-Obayashi, also filed a lawsuit in October seeking $150 million in damages, alleging similar complaints. A spokesperson for the contractor said they anticipate the two suits are just the first of “an avalanche of lawsuits” to come due to the early mismanagement of the center.

The authority’s board of directors fired its former executive director, Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan, in 2016 over concerns about major cost overruns and repeated delays. San Francisco’s Department of Public Works then took over the project.…

November 8, 2018

Carbon monoxide leak at downtown Nashville Westin hotel sends several to hospital

Source:, November 7, 2018
By: Natalie Neysa Alund and Mariah Timms

Emergency crews evacuated a portion of the Westin hotel in downtown Nashville on Wednesday morning and transported several people to the hospital after authorities detected a carbon monoxide leak in the building.

The Nashville Fire Department and Metro police responded about 6:50 a.m. at 807 Clark Place, a Metro Nashville dispatcher said.

According to fire officials, the leak sickened 14 people, and crews transported six victims to the hospital.

A Westin employee who answered the phone Wednesday morning said the hotel was not completely evacuated.…

November 7, 2018

Investigation points to concrete, steel defects as cause of cracks in Texas stadium

Source:, August 1, 2018
By: Kim Slowey

In the second of three reports, Nelson Forensics has determined that the cracks in the McKinney High School football stadium, according to The Dallas Morning News, were caused by: too much water in the concrete mix, which caused the concrete to shrink more than it should have while it dried; not enough concrete in the cross-section along pier lines; and too little steel reinforcing to control shrinkage cracking.

Nelson said that the stadium’s design was not at issue but rather that construction was not carried out in accordance to the project documents.

The company reiterated its position that the cracks did not pose safety concerns, only durability concerns. However, Nelson said that while cracking at the visitor concourse did not affect the structural integrity of the slabs, if the cracks are left unrepaired, they could widen and become a tripping hazard. Water intrusion could also corrode reinforcing steel.…

November 7, 2018

Contractors face tough time covering construction delays

Source:, November 6, 2018
By: Gaven Souter

Delays in construction projects can cause huge increases in costs, but identifying insurance policies to cover the costs is complex and varies significantly depending on policy wordings, construction insurance experts say.

While traditional construction insurance coverages may apply or specific delay in startup insurance may be triggered, there’s rarely a straightforward solution to covering the construction delays, they say.

Most construction projects run late, and a significant proportion of projects run over budget, said Tony Rastall, divisional director, energy, at Ed Broking Group Ltd. in London.…

November 6, 2018

Johnson Street Bridge builder sues City of Victoria over design, costs

Source:, November 3, 2018
By: Bill Cleverly

The new Johnson Street Bridge is built and in use, but legal wrangling over its design and costs continue.

In a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court, PCL Constructors Westcoast Ltd., the company that built the bridge, maintains design information for the bridge “was not accurate and complete” and “contained errors, omissions and misrepresentations.”

The suit seeking unspecified damages names the city, bridge design consultant WSP Canada Group Ltd. (formerly known as MMM Group), and Hardesty & Hanover, a sub-consultant, as defendants. The statement of claim, filed in Supreme Court in Chilliwack, says the city failed to provide design information in a timely manner, unreasonably changed the design (including specifications), and failed to pay PCL’s costs arising from changes.…

November 1, 2018

Mold Contamination Causes Weeklong Closure Of Stamford School

Source:, October 31, 2018
By: Zak Failla & Joe Lombardi

A Stamford elementary school will be closed for a week to give crews time to remove mold from the building.

The Stamford Board of Education announced on Tuesday that due to elevated mold levels, based on preliminary air quality test results that were reported earlier in the day, the Westover Elementary School will be closed for remediation until Tuesday, Nov. 6.

In a statement, the Board of Education said that “The district is working closely with the Boys and Girls Club to provide childcare for those families who do not have the option of keeping their children at home during the day.”

Students who need to go to the Boys and Girls Club can report to their regularly scheduled bus stops for transportation. The district will be providing support staff to the Boys and Girls Club to assist with the students.

The announcement of the closure at Westover Elementary comes on the heels of Mayor David Martin forming a mold task force that includes city and school officials.


November 1, 2018

AG’s Office accused of foot-dragging on PFAS pollution crisis

Source:, November 1, 2018
By: Paul Egan

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office dragged its feet on putting legal muscle behind state claims that the U.S. Air Force is liable for chemical contamination of waters around a former military base in northern Michigan, according to an attorney who owns nearby property.

Anthony Spaniola’s allegations — in part corroborated by minutes of meetings and other records — relate to contamination from PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances used in firefighting foam and other substances) that is spreading from contaminated groundwater beneath the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda Township into Van Etten Lake and other adjacent bodies of water.

The chemicals, which don’t break down in the environment, have been linked to cancers, reproductive problems and other health issues. State officials have warned people not to eat both fish and deer from around the base and PFAS has been found in high levels in a white foam increasingly coating the surface and shores of waters surrounding the base.

The Air Force, which closed the Wurtsmith base in 1993, has been working to clean up contamination on the former base and has also provided bottled water and/or reverse osmosis filtration systems to the few area residents whose wells contain PFAS compounds above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory limit of 70 parts per trillion.…

October 31, 2018

Risk Tip – Identifying Limitations of Liability

By: Bill Webb

When a general contractor or builder accepts a Limitation of Liability (LOL) be aware there may be insurance implications under the protective indemnity insuring agreement.  Contractor’s Protective Professional Indemnity (CPPI) forms often contain language that limits accepting a Limitation of Liability to available insurance proceeds.  While the Owner’s Protective Professional Indemnity (OPPI) policy requires notification of any LOLs agreed to by the Named Insured.  As protective indemnity is a first party excess coverage, both forms have a Minimum Insurance Requirement (MIR), the minimum amount of underlying insurance the carrier expects to be available.  If an LOL is agreed to below the MIR and is not identified, the insured may be responsible for paying the difference between the LOL and MIR before the protective coverage part will respond.  The protective insuring agreement is designed to indemnify the insured for damages they are legally entitled to recover.  Limiting recovery through an incorrectly worded LOL potentially restricts your insured’s coverage within their own policy.  Given the possible ramifications, it is important to advise insureds that accepting Limitations of Liability that limit liability to available insurance proceeds increases the chance of insurability and indemnity.