News and Views

May 20, 2019

Fertilizer leaks into Volo storm drain

Source:, May 18, 2019

A faulty container was being blamed for a chemical spill Saturday morning that leaked about 200 gallons of liquid fertilizer into a storm drain in suburban Volo, officials said.

Lake County sheriff’s deputies were sent to North Cornerstone and Remington drives at about 10:10 a.m. Police said in a prepared statement they located a TruGreen Fertilizer Truck that had leaked the substance.

Fire Department and hazardous materials crews from Fox Lake arrived at the scene, and eventually determined the fertilizer leak did not pose an immediate threat to people living in the area.

The HazMat crews did, however, dam up the storm drains to prevent fertilizer from flowing further into the area drainage system.

Environmental cleanup groups responded to the incident scene for additional clean-up and decontamination work, while officials with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Lake County Health Department and the village of Volo all have been notified of the situation.

Village officials referred all questions to the sheriff’s department.…

May 17, 2019

A dangerous delay

Source:, May 16, 2019
By: Jenn Abelson, Amy Brittain and Sarah Larimer

The University of Maryland waited 18 days to inform students of a virus on campus. That decision left vulnerable students like Olivia Paregol in the dark.

It had been six days since Olivia Shea Paregol walked out of the University of Maryland health center without an answer for why she felt so awful.

Now, the 18-year-old freshman was curled up in the fetal position on the floor of her dorm room at Elkton Hall in College Park, her brown hair resting on the shaggy white rug. She warned her friends, Sarah Hauk and Riley Whelan, to stay away from a plastic bag where she had just vomited.

The teenagers hoisted Olivia up and shuffled to the elevator. Once inside, Olivia leaned against the wall and slid to the floor.

“Don’t sit down,” Riley said. “Come on, it’s just a short ride. You can do this.”

“I literally can’t,” said Olivia, the words slicing her sore throat like knives. “I have to lay down.”

Olivia had been sick most of her first semester living in an overcrowded dorm that was infested with mold. But her symptoms now were far worse than a cough and congestion.

May 16, 2019

Ongoing asbestos cleanup forces two schools to spend another year in temporary campuses

Source:, May 15, 2019
By: Marta Jewson

Two New Orleans charter schools will spend 2019-2020 in temporary facilities as multimillion-dollar asbestos remediation jobs stretch into another school year. The schools — Lafayette Academy and Rosenwald Collegiate Academy — had previously been expected to move into their permanent buildings this fall.

In a lawsuit filed Friday, the Orleans Parish School Board claims it has spent $5 million as a result of contractors’ mismanagement at Lafayette Academy’s South Carrollton Avenue building, which was closed last summer due to an asbestos release. The Choice Foundation, which runs Lafayette charter school, is OPSB’s co-plaintiff in the suit. The network says it’s spent $1.3 million replacing contaminated property.

Construction workers at Lafayette Academy botched an asbestos removal job last year. It was later discovered students had been on campus during previous asbestos work, potentially exposing them to the harmful material. A doctor later told parents their students were at little risk for asbestos-related illness.…

May 16, 2019

Frantic parents fear for kids after radioactive contamination found at Ohio middle school

Source:, May 16, 2019
By: Safia Samee Ali

“It’s so scary that my child has been exposed to this because I have no idea how it’s going to affect him,” one mother said.

Ashley Day has always worried about the health risks of living a few miles from a defunct nuclear power plant in Piketon, Ohio. So, when her son Kendon came home Monday and told her school had been canceled for the rest of the year, she had a sinking feeling there was a connection.

A few hours later, her fears were confirmed: The Scioto Valley Local School District declared in a letter that Zahn’s Corner Middle School would be shut down for the remainder of the school year because of possible radioactive contamination from the nearby Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, which the federal Department of Energy is in the process of decommissioning.

“I felt anxiety, anger, and paranoia all at once,” she said. “It’s so scary that my child has been exposed to this because I have no idea how it’s going to affect him.”

The district said enriched uranium and neptunium-237, highly carcinogenic radioactive chemicals, were detected not only inside the building but also at a Department of Energy air monitor adjacent to the school.…

May 15, 2019

DEC is reviewing contamination at former American Axle site

Source:, May 15, 2019
By: Mike Desmond

Albany is working on a plan to clean up the former American Axle plant on East Delavan. Though there is still activity in the remaining buildings, one section of the vast complex has already been cleaned up and covered over.  The public turned out last night to hear how the rest of the site will be handled.

There is a brownfields section of the property, surrounding a federal superfund five acres. The ground is badly contaminated with industrial oil mixed with PCBs.

“We have tried to calm some of the excitement relative to exposure from off-site residents,” said State Regional Remediation Engineer Chad Staniszewski who was at last night’s meeting.

“So, we will reiterate that again that there is no exposure concern to off-site residents, from either the superfund site or the brownfield cleanup program site. So, that’s really what we want to get across.”…

May 15, 2019

State now controlling oil spill clean-up that dumped toxic chemical into river, lake

Source:, May 14, 2019
By: Steve Kiggins

Crews continue cleaning up an oil spill that has impacted a river, a lake and several parks in the South Sound.

The problem: oil leaking from an old electrical transformer at the Olympia Brewery began in late February, but also mixed in with the oil is a dangerous toxic chemical that’s been banned for decades.

Plus, taxpayers could for now be picking up the tab which could climb into the millions of dollars.

While officials say the immediate threat to people and the environment is small, it remains possible the dangerous chemical could seep into the food chain.

“It’s a disaster pretty much,” said resident Andrew Kerr.

Wearing protective boots and clothing, contractors are still busy cleaning up an oil spill that has been causing problems since late February.…

May 14, 2019

State ordered chemical companies to pay for pollution clean-up. They say, no way!

Source:, May 13, 2019
By: Michael Sol Warren

We won’t pay.

That’s the message that a group of major chemical companies have in response to being ordered by the state of New Jersey to pay for the cleanup of what are known as “PFAS” chemicals (short for polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances).

The five companies — DuPont, DowDuPont, Chemours, 3M and Solvay — have all informed the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection that they have no intention to pay for statewide cleanup after a state directive issued in March asserted them to be financially responsible for PFAS contamination around the Garden State.

But in letters first reported by Bloomberg, lawyers for each of the companies strongly object to the directive, question the state’s legal footing and declare that the have no intention of paying for the cleanup of the entire state.

The amount of money at stake in this dispute is unknown, but is expected to reach massive levels. When the directive was announced, NJDEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe told NJ Advance Media that upgrading drinking water systems across the state to address PFAS chemicals could cost hundreds of millions of dollars — that cost does not include any actual cleanup work.…

May 13, 2019

3M, DuPont Refuse to Pay for New Jersey Chemical Cleanup

Source:, May 10, 2019

Chemours Co., 3M Co. and DuPont are taking a stand against what one company called an “unprecedented” New Jersey order, saying they won’t pay for a statewide investigation of fluorinated chemical contamination.

The companies asserted they aren’t responsible for contamination under the state’s Spill Compensation and Control Act, which prohibits hazardous substances and pollutants from being discharged and imposes liability on those who do so.

New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection in March ordered DuPont Specialty Products USA LLC, DowDuPont Inc., E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., Chemours Co., Solvay Specialty Polymers USA LLC and 3M to tell the state where and when they manufactured, dumped, supplied, or used poly- or perfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS.

The chemicals have appeared in drinking water supplies across the country, spurring new federal legislation, state regulations and orders including New Jersey’s.

New Jersey also requested the companies set up a fund for investigating and remediating PFAS across the state, but the companies have refused, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg Environment May 9 through a state public information request.…

May 13, 2019

Former Fairfield gas station site to get $300K cleanup before redevelopment

Source:, May 12, 2019
By: Michael D. Pitman

The site of a former gas station on Ohio 4 will be cleaned up with funds from the state.

“Mr. Hamed has expressed interest in redeveloping the site, but his options right now are limited due to the current extent of the environmental conditions,” he said. Hamed’s current tenant on the site is Weaver Barns.

Fairfield City Council approved last month submitting an application for an Abandoned Gas Station Cleanup Program grant and contracted Patriot Engineering and Environmental to clean up the site.…

May 13, 2019

Parchment suing 3M for PFAS contamination

Source:, May 13, 2019
By: John McNeill

New revelations suggest that 3M, the giant Minnesota conglomerate that produced PFOS, knew for decades that it might be toxic, but covered it up.

Documents revealed in a Detroit Free Press story suggest that internal company tests as far back as the 1950’s revealed it was causing disease in lab animals, that the company kept from the EPA and the public.

Detroit Attorney Nicholas Coulson, who is representing Parchment and others in a class action lawsuit against 3M and Georgia Pacific says its nasty stuff, that can cause cancer, high cholesterol and a number of other health issues.

He says a paper trail of internal documents found by Minnesota’s Attorney General shows there was a cover-up at 3M..

The chemicals, which do not break-down in the environment, have been used in everything from Gore-Tex, to Teflon, to Scotch Gard. It’s been used to make everything from shoes to sandwich wraps to popcorn bags.…