November 14, 2013

NV residents reach mine pollution settlement

Read here about residents in Nevada that have reached a $19.5 million mine pollution settlement.


September 13, 2013

BP toxic gas trial is first of many

Source: Houston Chronicle, September 10, 2013
Posted on: http://fpn.advisen.com

Tons of toxic gases spewed from a tower at BP’s Texas City refinery for more than 40 days in 2010 without warning to the public. This week four of more than 48,000 residents who sued BP claiming health damage from the release will be the first to have their day in court.

They are asking a jury to give each of them up to $200,000 and to punish BP by awarding 10 percent of its estimated $147 billion net worth. The punitive damages would be given to charity, said attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents the four Galveston County residents.

The lawsuit alleges that BP could have shut down a unit that caused the release but refused to do so because it would have cost $20 million in lost revenue.

Jury selection began Monday in the trial, which is expected to set the tone for many trials to follow.

“These test cases are all bellwethers,” Buzbee said. “Whatever decision is made by the jury will not be binding on any clients but these, but it will give a strong indication of the … value of the cases.”

The mixture of gases escaped through a flare, a tower designed to burn away pollutants released into the air, between April 6 and May 22, 2010.…

June 23, 2011

Leukemia victim sues Shell over benzene exposure

Source: http://www.thetelegraph.com, June 20, 2011
By: Sanford J. Schmidt

Scott Monroe was a 19-year-old naval scholarship student of nuclear engineering when he came down with a potentially lethal blood cancer that he and his lawyers claim is the result of a benzene leak from the refinery near his home.

Now, the disease, the refinery and the leak are the subject of a lawsuit Monroe filed last week in Madison County Circuit Court, naming Shell Oil Co. and BP Products North America as defendants.

“Mr. Monroe was first diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia in April 2010, when he was just 19. He lost a $180,000 Navy scholarship to the University of Michigan to pursue a degree in nuclear engineering, and his career prospects have been severely and permanently damaged,” said Christopher Dysart of St. Louis, one of his attorneys.

The suit claims that the disease shortened Monroe’s life expectancy and caused him mental anguish. The suit also is asking for damages for medical bills and for medical treatment, possibly for the rest of his life.

The suit claims Shell released toxic chemicals, including benzene, into the ground and groundwater in Roxana and did nothing to clean up or otherwise address the chemicals for more than 20 years.

“From approximately 1991 through the present, Mr. Monroe lived at 120 East First Street, Roxana. From approximately 1995 through 2009, Mr. Monroe attended elementary through high school at 601 North Chaffer Avenue, Roxana,” the suit states.…

March 9, 2011

BP Fined $62 million for Blast and Spill Under Deal with U.S.

Source: http://enr.construction.com, October 31, 2007

In two plea agreements with the U.S. Justice Dept., energy giant BP Products North America Inc. agreed on Oct. 25 to pay a $62-million criminal fine for a 2005 explosion at a Texas refinery that killed 15 people and for petroleum pipeline spills last year on Alaska’s North Slope. BP also must spend $415 million on improvements to the refinery and the pipeline. Of the total fine, $50 million is for Clean Air Act violations related to the refinery explosion. The $12-million pipeline fine cites BP’s failure to inspect or clean the corroded pipeline.…

March 2, 2011

Oil Drilling To Resume In the Gulf’s Deep Waters

Source: The New York Times, March 1, 2011
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

The Interior Departmentsaid Monday that it had approved the first new deepwater drilling permit in the Gulf of Mexico since the BP explosion and spill last spring, a milestone after a period of intense uncertainty for industry and a wholesale remaking of the nation’s system of offshore oil and gas regulation.

Michael R. Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, said that Noble Energy had been granted permission to resume drilling in 6,500 feet of water off the coast of Louisiana.

Work on the well was suspended, along with virtually all other drilling activity in water deeper than 5,000 feet, immediately after the Deepwater Horizon accident last April 20. The disaster killed 11 rig workers and spewed nearly five million barrels of oil into the ocean.

Still, there was no indication that drilling in the gulf would return any…

February 2, 2011

Jury awards BP workers $100 million in lawsuit

Source: http://www.txattorneys.com, December 18, 2009
By: Juan A. Lozano, Houston Chronicle

A federal jury Friday awarded more than $100 million to 10 workers who claimed they were injured in 2007 when a toxic substance was released at BP PLC’s Texas City plant.

The jurors in Galveston, about 50 miles southeast of Houston, gave each contract worker $10 million in punitive damages. Nine of the workers were also awarded between $5,000 and $10,000 for pain and suffering and medical expenses, while the 10th got more than $240,000.

The verdict came after 1 1/2 days of deliberations following a three-week trial.…

August 17, 2010

Florida Developer Sues Halliburton Over Oil Spill

Florida real estate developer St. Joe Co. is suing Halliburton Co. over its role in the rig explosion that led to the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

St. Joe states that Halliburton, which was responsible for encasing BP PLC’s subsea well in cement, ignored safety procedures and didn’t properly manage the cementing process. In deepwater drilling, cementing is a critical element in preventing oil and gas from escaping from the well.

“As a result, the cementing failed, allowing oil and gas to escape the well which caused the catastrophic blowout,” St. Joe said. The cause of the blowout has not yet determined. Multiple investigations are ongoing.…

July 23, 2010

Texas Sues BP for Refinery Pollution

Texas’ Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against BP for violating the state’s pollution laws. The civil lawsuit cites 46 releases of pollution at the refinery, including those associated with a 2005 explosion that killed 15 employees and injured 180 others. Unspecified monetary damages are sought for each day each violation occurred, in addition to legal fees for the cost of the lawsuit and civil penalties. BP has already invested over $1 billion in people and processes to decrease pollution at the facility.…

July 21, 2010

Breaking Down the Risk-Assessment Process

Compliance Week (06/15/10), Thompson, Louis M.

In order to examine risk assessment in general, one must see how companies have developed their risk-assessment process. Most tend to follow legal and regulatory requirements relevant to their industry and standards from the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.  Risk assessment has evolved to a large number of people with responsibility having the title of chief compliance officer.  The sophisticated companies have joined their legal and regulatory risk assessments with enterprise risk management.  This is holistic, since finding risks involves analyzing the enterprise in general.  Risk assessment is undertaken by compliance and risk management professionals, typically because they have trouble defining their roles, boundaries, and coordination.  At Marsh & McLennan, the two functions are now performed by a chief risk and compliance officer.  The company argues that it may be enough to increase awareness of risk through risk identification processes the first year.  Additionally, the Marsh Mac thinks it will be successful in the long-term by having executive management support, and by ensuring that the board of directors are senior management are engaged.  H.J. Heinz boosted its risk assessment process by including reputation management as part of the company’s risk assessment.  Heinz today makes sure that executives assess risk in operational and non-operational areas.  Recent incidents at BP and Massey Energy show that proper risk assessment and management most likely could have prevented operational failures and the ruin of reputation.…

July 15, 2010

“Oilicane” in the Gulf?

As we continue to watch the environmental disaster unfold in the Gulf of Mexico, the final impact to the environment, property, and human health has not even begun to unfold.  According to Advisen,  as of July 9, 2010, 13 organizations including BP plc, Transocean, Andarko Petroleum, Cameron, and Halliburton, are named in loss events in legal cases stemming from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster and subsequent spill.  As of early July, over 130 individual loss situations are being tracked and that may be only the beginning.

As claims and lawsuits continue to mount, commercial and habitational real estate owners along the Gulf Coast need to be cognizant that their property and casualty insurance policies may include absolute or total pollution exclusions and therefore will not address any resulting contamination from the oil spill.  With the projected higher than average hurricane season upon us, concerns including storm surge, wind-driven rain and just plain wind-driven oil-contaminated sea water (the potential “oilicane”) onto both coastal and inland, real and personal properties may compound the environmental tragedy.

Pollution Legal Liability (PLL) insurance could assist in mitigating some of the fears property owners along the Gulf may have.  PLL would provide coverage for clean-up of oil-contaminated properties as well as any resultant third-party bodily injury and property damage claims and may even be expanded to include business interruption.  In the event such contamination resulted from the oil spill, the carrier may have grounds to subrogate against BP and perhaps others.

The environmental insurance marketplace is keeping a keen eye on the events unfolding in the Gulf, with a few markets developing exclusions and underwriting restrictions, while others see an opportunity and continue to write business in the region.  New Day can assist you and your real estate clients in understanding the insurance implications of a potential “oilicane” as well the inherent insurance risks that the oil spill in the gulf poses.  Contact New Day to discuss PLL coverage for your real estate clients and allow New Day to assist in developing a comprehensive environmental insurance program.…