News and Views

March 11, 2019

N.J. sues ExxonMobil over Paulsboro plant’s PCB contamination

Source:, March 7, 2019
By: Frank Kummer

New Jersey’s attorney general filed suit Thursday against ExxonMobil, claiming the company contaminated the ground, water, and wetlands at its Paulsboro, Gloucester County, property with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and needs to pay an unspecified amount for environmental damage from the industrial chemicals.

Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal filed the suit in Superior Court on behalf of the state Department of Environmental Protection and said industrial dumping on the 12-acre Lail site stretches to the 1950s. ExxonMobil is one of the world’s biggest energy companies.

“We’re going to bring the hammer down on polluters and hold them responsible for the damage they’ve caused in the Garden State,” said Grewal. “We have strong laws on the books to require companies to clean up their mess, and we’re going to keep using them. That includes revitalizing New Jersey’s long-standing efforts to take ExxonMobil to task for contamination across the state.”

March 11, 2019

Lawsuit seeks damages for water contamination from Peterson Air Force Base

Source:, March 8, 2019
by: Benjamin Lloyd

A multi-million dollar lawsuit has been filed against the federal government because of groundwater contamination from the use of firefighting foam at Peterson Air Force Base.

Both the Security Water District and Pikes Peak Community Foundation, which controls Venetucci Farms on the south end of Colorado Springs, seek $17-million in damages in the wake of the 2016 discovery of contamination from PFCs (perfluorochemicals) and PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl substances).

Attorneys argue negligence as the cause for relief on behalf of the entities. Negligence for disposal of the chemicals, remediation of contamination, and breaching a responsibility to prevent dangerous conditions on the defendant’s property.

The filing states “until 2016, one of Security’s primary water sources was groundwater from the Widefield and Windmill Gulch Aquifers” which “historically supplied about half of Security’s water requirements.” Specifically, the water came from a system of 24 wells owned by the water district.

The Air Force has admitted it’s use of firefighting foam which contains cancer causing agents (polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that seeped into the groundwater.

It’s happened in other communities around the country. In fact, the State of New Mexico has also filed a similar lawsuit.…

March 11, 2019

Pork Giant Loses Another Nuisance Lawsuit by North Carolina Neighbors

Source:, March 11, 2019
By: Emery P. Dalesio

Smithfield Foods was found responsible Friday for a fifth time for nuisances neighbors suffered from waste generated by thousands of the company’s hogs. Jurors determined the pork giant should pay $420,000 after four previous juries awarded nearly $550 million in penalties.

Most of the damages awarded were intended to punish Smithfield Foods for its actions, but a state law limiting the size of punitive awards means they are automatically capped.

Friday’s verdict was the second time a jury heard about intense smells, clouds of flies and other conditions around the same Duplin County operation that raised about 5,000 of the company’s animals.

For this five-week trial, plaintiffs’ lawyers hand-picked the 10 neighbors, who have lived on their Duplin County land for decades. Company lawyers previously picked two other neighbors of Joey Carter’s farm. In July, jurors awarded them $25 million in damages.

A federal judge has the two sides alternating who picks cases for juries to consider, anticipating it could lead to a negotiated settlement that could resolve dozens of lawsuits and the claims of more than 500 neighbors.…

March 11, 2019

Environmental reports reveal contamination at Jackson Street building

Source:, March 10, 2019
By: Julie McClure

Soil borings at a Jackson Street property the Columbus parks department hopes to purchase as a storage building show chemical contamination in soil and groundwater by substances that could have leaked from underground storage tanks there.

Columbus parks director Mark Jones said parks officials continue to examine the Phase I and Phase II environmental reports from Indianapolis-based Ark Engineering Services in preparation to talk to the property owner about remediation before a possible sale of the building to the city.

The environmental testing was initiated by the city after it learned that the property, at 1360 Jackson St., the site of the former Machinery Moving Inc., had three underground fuel storage tanks installed between 1972 and 1976.

The property is owned by Norma Lienhoop, aunt of Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop, who has recused himself from all negotiations or work about the project, Jones said in an earlier interview.

While state records indicate those tanks were removed in 1989, Jones said engineers could find no local documentation that confirmed their removal from the property.…

March 11, 2019

3M taking steps to remove toxic chemicals, but some want more action

Source:, March 10, 2019
By: Eric Fleischauer

Extensive ongoing efforts by 3M Co. to deal with chemicals once disposed of in Decatur and Lawrence County included the erection of a privacy fence last week around property it purchased recently that is contaminated by its own chemical waste.

Lawrence County resident Beth McCarley said hiding the remediation efforts west of Trinity behind a fence is not reassuring to a community frightened of the invisible and indestructible “forever chemicals” once manufactured at 3M’s Decatur plant and dumped in Decatur and Lawrence County.

The chemicals briefly triggered the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority in 2016 to advise its customers not to drink its water.

“I am not confident at all with 3M. They have proved themselves not to be for the people, just for the almighty dollar,” said McCarley, who has become an informal grassroots coordinator of people in the county concerned about their exposure to the chemicals. “They shouldn’t be putting up fences. They should be telling us exactly how they’re going to solve this mess. We won’t know what they’re doing behind that fence.”

The fence is one step in a wide-ranging cleanup effort that led 3M in 2008 to discontinue the manufacture and use of the chemicals, that last year led it to purchase two contaminated local properties, that last month led seven company representatives to meet with state officials, and that includes an ongoing effort to blanket hundreds of acres of contaminated fields at its Decatur facility with liners.

March 8, 2019

Pollution Exclusion Bars Insurance Coverage for Oil-Based Paint Fumes

Source:, March 7, 2019
By: Steven A. Meyerowitz

March 8, 2019

Other possible sources of PCE contamination identified in South Lake Tahoe

Source:, March 7, 2019

With a 400 acre plume of tetrachloroethylene (PCE) in some of the South Lake Tahoe groundwater, agencies tasked with protecting the local drinking supply updated the community on cleanup efforts and the status of the plume Wednesday evening.

Authorities originally identified the chemical entered the groundwater at the site of the old Lake Tahoe Laundry Works which was located at the South Y Center that is now home to Raley’s and KMart.

During the meeting, Scott Ferguson of the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board revealed some other points of entry for the chemical are around Tucker and Glorene avenues, near where the former Big O Tire store and the current Napa Auto Parts store are located as well as over at the current site of TJ Maxx where an old dry cleaners was located.

Ferguson said Lahontan, who has been working on the chemical in area water since its discovery in 2009, said they should know by this summer on the exact sources and have a plan in place to remove from the groundwater.

PCE is a man-made chemical that was used from the early 1960s through the mid-1980s as a solvent for dry cleaning clothes and degreasing metal. During the late 1980s, concerns about the toxicity of PCE led Federal and State environmental agencies to list PCE as a probable carcinogen and as a toxic pollutant.…

March 8, 2019

Duke Energy settles coal ash lawsuit

Source: Winston-Salem Journal (NC), March 7, 2019
Posted on:

Pete Overby says he’s resigned to the reality his beloved Dan River will never flow pristine again.

Overby feels his grandson will never be safe from pollution swimming in the river he enjoyed as a child. And after the 2014 coal ash spill at Duke Energy’s shuttered steam plant, they’ll never again catch their supper from the bank near the family home.

Overby, 86, and his wife, Wanda, along with 32 other families and individuals who live along the Dan River in Rockingham County, learned Wednesday that their attorney had reached a settlement with Duke Energy in a lawsuit alleging the group suffered damages as a result of the Feb. 2, 2014, coal ash spill.

Details of the settlement were not publicly disclosed.

Bryan Brice, a Raleigh-based environmental attorney representing the plaintiffs, described the settlement with the Charlotte-based utility giant as “amicable.”

In a written statement, Duke Energy spokeswoman Paige Sheehan disputed complaints that the river remained tainted.…

March 6, 2019

Cleanup of mercury, gas tank at Seaport lot draws concerns from neighborhood

Source:, March 6, 2019
By: Caroline Spivack

“Who wants their children to run around next to where they’re pulling mercury out of the ground?”

Parents at the Peck Slip elementary school are considering pulling their children from the sought after public school in anticipation of a developer’s plans to cleanup chemicals that have leaked into a nearby block-sized lot—fearing their children will be exposed to hazardous materials kicked up during construction.

The sprawling 250 Water Street parcel currently functions as a parking lot but was bought by the Howard Hughes Corporation last June. In January, the developer unveiled plans to enter the state’s Brownfield cleanup program to address environmental contamination on the property that once hosted a thermometer factory and a gas station. But the lot is on the door step of the Peck Slip School and runs along several apartment buildings, and neighbors fear the work may impact the area’s air quality.

“I just feel like I’m in the dark about how they’re going to make sure the air we breath is safe,” said Sara Williams, whose son attends fourth grade at Peck Slip. “I’m honestly thinking about finding a new school for him because this site is right next to where the kids come out and play—who wants their children to run around next to where they’re pulling mercury out of the ground?”…

March 5, 2019

State files lawsuit against Cannon, Holloman over contamination

Source:, March 5, 2019

The New Mexico Environment Department and the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General have filed a lawsuit against the Air Force to compel officials to address the contamination caused by the discharge of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances at Cannon and Holloman Air Force bases. 

“In the absence of cooperation by the Air Force, the New Mexico Environment Department will move swiftly and decisively to ensure protections for both public health and the environment,” said Environment Secretary James Kenney in a news release. “In addition to violating environmental laws, the Air Force violated our public trust. Today we begin holding them accountable.”

The complaint, filed in New Mexico federal court, alleges violations of the state’s Hazardous Waste Act.

According to a news release the state is requesting immediate injunctive relief from the court that requires the Air Force to clean up the contamination at the two bases and pay for the abatement activities.

This is a developing story.…