News and Views

January 11, 2019

New lawsuit filed against Sands Resort over Legionella outbreak

Source:, January 10, 2019
by: Max Sullivan

Stephen Uliano had no idea where he contracted pneumonia this summer until he read a news story two months later about a Legionnaire’s disease outbreak at Hampton Beach.

Now Uliano, who came to Hampton Beach with his girlfriend from New York this July, has filed the seventh lawsuit brought against the Sands Resort for negligence in exposing him to Legionella, alleging it caused his seven-day hospitalization at Portsmouth Regional Hospital. The suit was filed Wednesday in Rockingham Superior Court against the Sands ownership, as well as Aqua Paradise Pools & Spas, which installed and maintained its hot tub.

State and federal officials say 19 people came down with Legionnaire’s disease while visiting the beach between June 10 and Aug. 26, one person dying afterwards, and they said last year the Sands was considered a likely source of the bacteria that causes the rare form of pneumonia.…

January 11, 2019

Burnsville, other cities sue over pond pollutants

Source:, January 10, 2019
By: John Gessner

Pavement seal the alleged culprit

Burnsville and six other Minnesota cities are suing several chemical companies over products that contaminate stormwater pond basins and raise the costs of dredging and maintenance.

Burnsville’s suit, filed Dec. 28 in U.S. District Court, seeks reimbursement for the past and future costs of removing sediment containing measurable levels of PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), some of which are known carcinogens.

The companies refine and market coal tar, which contain high levels of PAHs, for use in pavement sealants, according to the suit. In Minnesota, the sealants were commonly used on driveways and other surfaces by both paving companies and homeowners until the Legislature banned their sale effective Jan. 1, 2014.

Coal tar sealants wear out, their particles washed or blown into the environment, including stormwater ponds, where they settle at the bottom.

Before cities clean or dredge ponds, they’re required by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to take soil tests, Burnsville Public Works Director Ryan Peterson said.…

January 11, 2019

Long-term use of airport tank farm leads to soil and groundwater contamination


A small airport serving as a regional transportation/shipping hub was owned by a local municipality and operated by a single FBO. They used a tank farm from the 1940s through 2013, which led to discovery of significant soil and groundwater contamination during replacement of aboveground fuel tanks and underground piping. The release was reported to the state regulatory agency and soil remediation was deemed necessary prior to installation of new fuel tanks. The extent of groundwater contamination was unknown.

AXA XL’s claims team retained a consultant to respond to the regulatory agency and prepare a remediation work plan, which allowed the new tank erection to proceed without further delay. Soil excavation and confirmation sampling was completed around old tank and piping areas. The regulatory agency also
required additional groundwater monitoring wells to assess the extent of contamination. Because the airport was in a more remote region, this resulted in higher remediation costs due to increased professional time and materials fees. The extent of VOC groundwater contamination was defined and found to be
localized. Cost of the remediation was capped to just slightly under $1 million, but just as importantly, responsive claim handling allowed the airport to continue operations and avoid any business interruption expenses.…

January 11, 2019

Storage and repair of older, radium-containing aircraft instruments


Based on recent US EPA guidance, an airport determined that one of its FBO tenants, an avionics repair firm, had a large amount of potentially radioactive aircraft instruments stored in their warehouse for many years. The luminescent paint used in these aircraft instruments (new and used) contained radium, which
continued to emit measurable radiation and pose potential health hazards. These instruments were mixed together with thousands of other aircraft parts in the warehouse. The state regulatory agency inspected the site, and a primary concern cited was the potential for a catastrophic fire to result in ingestion/inhalation of radium smoke/soot and generation of contaminated fire-fighting water.

The tenant could not afford to sort and dispose of the radium-contaminated instruments and filed for bankruptcy. The state regulatory agency notified the airport of impending enforcement action and the airport decided it was necessary to dispose of the instruments as low level radioactive waste. An AXA XL technical
consultant worked with the airport to determine the level of risk and appropriate disposal requirements. A third-party consultant was hired to assist with proper hazard identification and disposal of the radium instruments. All costs and expenses associated with the consulting services and instrument disposal fell within the airport’s self-insured policy retention of $500,000.…

January 11, 2019

Use of de-icing fluids impacts wetland


An airport in the northern United States routinely used propylene glycol for de-icing activities, which were performed by several FBOs at multiple locations. Long term use of the de-icing agent resulted in offsite discharges including impacts to an adjacent wetland. Further, the local regulatory authority reduced the stormwater discharge limits for parameters such as the biological oxygen demand (BOD), which resulted in routine exceedances. The airport considered a centralized de-icing area, but due to the physical constraints of the airport, this was deemed impractical and expensive. Faced with significant fines and a potential consent order, the airport was forced to take action so flight operations were not impacted.

AXA XL’s environmental claims counsel and a technical consultant worked with the FBOs and airport to prepare a plan for smaller de-icing areas with an improved collection system. Discharges were routed to a central engineered wetland to provide passive treatment of the propylene glycol and meet storm water permit requirements. Construction of the engineered wetland and storm water conveyance systems cost under $2 million and saved the airport from over $13 million in non-compliance costs and fines. This was accomplished with limited disruption to airport operations and no impact to flight schedules. The FBOs incurred some legal defense expense and a portion of the construction expense.…

January 11, 2019

Airport fuel hydrant leaks


An airport and their FBO used a hydrant system (underground fuel delivery pipeline) for many years. During maintenance of the system, it was discovered that a valve leaked in the fuel hydrant system. Over a long-period of time, jet fuel leaked from this valve at a rate that went undetected by the leak detection system. Over time, significant contamination of the aquifer underlying the airport occurred, resulting in a remediation order from the local/county environmental authority.

Although, the airport had initially installed and operated the hydrant system, the current FBO’s contract made it responsible for preventing and responding to spills/releases and overall environmental compliance. AXA XL’s claims counsel and consultants worked with the FBO and airport to reach a settlement and develop a remediation work plan. A risk assessment was performed to ensure that there was no harm to airport users or employees from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in groundwater. A long-term remediation project involving monitored natural attenuation for 20 years was implemented. Costs are
expected to exceed $400,000, but are still significantly less expensive than an active groundwater treatment system.…

January 11, 2019

Contractor Gets Green Light to Fix Two Fractured Girders at Salesforce Transit Center

Source:, January 10, 2019
By: Nadine M. Post

On Jan. 10, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority announced that procurement has begun for the repair of the two fractured bottom flanges of the twin parallel girders that span 80 ft across Fremont Street in the 4.5-block-long Salesforce Transit Center in San Francisco. TJPA shuttered the transit center on Sept. 25, less than six weeks after it had opened, after a ceiling installer noticed a crack in one of the bridgelike spans.

Last month, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s peer review panel, overseeing the TJPA’s investigation into the causes of the fracture, approved the repair scheme, designed by the project’s engineer-of-record, Thornton Tomasetti. Materials for the repair, which also includes the same fix for identical First Street girders that did not fracture, may be available in two weeks, said Mark Zabaneh, TJPA’s executive director, at the Jan. 10 TJPA board of directors’ meeting.

There is no date set yet to reopen the facility, Zabaneh added. But the TJPA is “close to determining” the schedule to reopen, he said. He added that there has been significant progress toward determining a cause of the failure but did not offer any details.…

January 11, 2019

Auditor: Prematurely Awarded Contracts Increased Honolulu Rail Cost by $354M

Source: The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, January 20, 2019
Posted on:

A series of “prematurely” awarded rail contracts doled out to construction companies as early as 2009 prompted delay claims and change orders that increased the cost of the Honolulu rail project by more than $354 million , according to a new report by the Hawaii State Auditor released today.

The report also noted some delay claims and change orders are unresolved, which means the cost of those claims will continue to rise. For example, rail officials are now trying to settle a claim by rail contractor Ansaldo Honolulu JV, which sources say originally demanded $200 million in 2016 connection with rail construction delays.

The auditor’s report also cited documentation that the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation staff throughout 2015 reported one set of rail cost and schedule estimates to the HART board of directors, political leaders and the public, and reported different cost and schedule estimates to the federal government.…

January 10, 2019

Let’s Talk: Airport Fixed Base Operators and Environmental Incidents

Source:, December 11, 2018
By: Samantha McCree, AXA XL Senior Underwriter

From supplying support equipment to refueling and de-icing operations to managing fuel storage facilities to hangars, and more, thousands of fixed base operators (FBOs) provide vital support that keep US and Canadian airports operational. Because of FBOs important role in supporting air travel, AXA XL’s Samantha McCree has developed her expertise to help FBOs remain operational. As a senior underwriter on AXA XL’s North America Environmental insurance team, Samantha helps FBOs in the US and Canada manage their environmental risks to assure that a spill or other pollution incident does not hinder their operations. See how she does it.

How did you develop your underwriting specialty focused on FBOs?

McCree: After graduating with a civil engineering degree from Drexel University, I worked at an engineering firm and one of the things I was tasked with was inspecting above and below ground storage tanks. That experience was helpful when I joined AXA XL as an environmental underwriter more than 19 years ago. Many FBOs contend with the effective management and maintenance of storage tanks. Therefore, my hands-on experience with tank integrity and management was a plus, especially when it came to underwriting environmental insurance coverage for FBOs’ environmental exposures. Having a background in engineering has been very helpful in serving FBOs and underwriting appropriate pollution coverages. Engineers want to know what makes things tick. We’re very observant – and we like digging into the details. That’s what I do on a daily basis. Over time, I’ve become very familiar with the environmental risks that my FBO clients face and more importantly, the best ways they can minimize potential environment liability and damage to their reputation and bottom line.…

January 9, 2019

Millbrook students ‘home’ after months-long mold cleanup, repairs

Source:, January 9, 2018
By: Nina Schutzman

A Millbrook district elementary school is open again, nearly four months after shutting down for mold remediation and renovations.

And for Elm Drive Elementary’s 160-plus students, the re-opening of their building brought a fresh start and a homecoming.

Elm Drive had been closed since September. While remediation and repairs were ongoing, Elm Drive’s K-2 students were relocated to Millbrook Middle School.

Now the kids are “back where they belong,” said Millbrook Central School District Superintendent Philip D’Angelo.

And the school they returned to is in better shape than the one they left behind, officials say.

“It’s been a difficult start of the school year,” D’Angelo told the Poughkeepsie Journal. “You try to find an opportunity out of a tough situation. This building is 59-years-old, but (now) it’s almost like new.”

The district’s insurance company, New York Schools Insurance Reciprocal, is projected to pay more than $2 million for work completed inside of the school, said Brian Fried, Millbrook’s assistant superintendent for business, finance and operations.…