December 19, 2013

Smog Problems in Utah

Read here about smog that has led to a health alert Utah.


December 2, 2013

How pollution results in larger storm clouds, colder days and warmer nights

Source: Asian News International, November 27, 2013
Posted on:

A new study has revealed how pollution causes thunderstorms to leave behind larger, deeper, longer lasting clouds.

Researchers had thought that pollution causes larger and longer-lasting storm clouds by making thunderheads draftier through a process known as convection. But atmospheric scientist Jiwen Fan and her colleagues show that pollution instead makes clouds linger by decreasing the size and increasing the lifespan of cloud and ice particles.

Also, pollution can decrease the daily temperature range via such clouds: High clouds left after a thunderstorm spread out across the sky and look like anvils. These clouds cool the earth during the day with their shadows but trap heat like a blanket at night.

Pollution can cause clouds from late afternoon thunderstorms to last long into the night rather than dissipate, causing warmer nights.

Fan and colleagues decided to compare real-life summer storm clouds to a computer model that zooms deep into simulated clouds. The model included physical properties of the cloud particles as well as the ability to see convection, if it gets stronger or weaker. Most models run in days or weeks, but the simulations in this study took up to six months.

The researchers started with cloud data from three locations that differ in how polluted, humid and windy they typically are: the tropics in the western Pacific, southeastern China and the Great Plains in Oklahoma. The data had been collected through DOE’s ARM Climate Research Facility.

The team found that in all cases, pollution increased the size, thickness and duration of the anvil-shaped clouds. However, only two locations – the tropics and China – showed stronger convection. The opposite happened in Oklahoma – pollution made for weaker convection.

This inconsistency suggested that stronger convection isn’t the reason. Taking a closer look at the properties of water droplets and ice crystals within clouds, the team found that pollution resulted in smaller droplets and ice crystals, regardless of location.

In addition, the team found that in clean skies, the heavier ice particles fall faster out of the anvil-shaped clouds, causing the clouds to dissipate. However, the ice crystals in polluted skies were smaller and too light to fall out of the clouds, leading to the larger, longer-lasting clouds.

The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (ANI)


October 16, 2013

United States: Is The Absolute Pollution Exclusion Absolute? It Depends On Which State Answers The Question

Source:, October 14, 2013
By: Robert S. Sanoff, Foley Hoag LLP

The battle over the scope of the absolute pollution exclusion in general liability policies continues to be fought in the context of defective drywall manufactured in China. An earlier blog entry discussed a Virginia court that had concluded that there was no coverage for defective drywall claims, rejecting decisions from a number of states that had ruled that the absolute pollution exclusion should be limited to industrial pollution claims, particularly Superfund claims.

In Probuild Holdings, Inc. v. Travelers Property Casualty Company of America, a Colorado court relying on Massachusetts and Florida law recently took the other side from the Virginia court. The Colorado court denied a summary judgment motion by an insurer in a defective drywall claim. Citing the Massachusetts case that suggested that the absolute pollution exclusion should be limited to industrial pollution claims, particularly Superfund claims, and not defective product claims involving residential properties, the court concluded that the meaning of the exclusion was at best ambiguous and ambiguity would typically be construed against the insurer. Although suggesting that the policyholder appeared at summary judgment to have the stronger position, the Colorado court left for trial the final resolution.

For the moment at least, the scope of the absolute pollution exclusion depends on which jurisdiction’s law applies.

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September 26, 2013

Smithfield Foods responds to lawsuit over pollution

Source: Star-News (Wilmington, NC), September 24, 2013
Posted on:

Smithfield Foods and its subsidiary Murphy-Brown have responded to the nearly 1,000 Eastern North Carolina residents that have sued or planned to sue the companies and other individual farmers over foul smell and pollution from farms, saying the lawyers that have signed them up for the challenge acted unethically in doing so.

Mark Anderson, trial counsel for Smithfield Foods and Murphy Brown LLC, called it a “serious matter related to ethics which is of great concern to the individual farmers as well as my clients.”

He declined further comment, saying, “Given that the matter is now before the court, I don’t feel that further comment would be appropriate at this time.”

The out-of-state plaintiffs’ attorneys, the Middleton Law Firm LLC, of Savannah, Ga., and the Speer Law Firm, P.A., of Kansas City, Mo., could not be reached for comment despite repeated attempts. The listed attorneys are affiliated with the group called the Center to Expose and Close Factory Farms. The lawsuits claim stench and pollution have robbed residents of their ability to fully enjoy their properties.

The motion filed in the Wake County Superior Court by Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, claims the plaintiffs’ lawyers inappropriately shopped for clients, signed up deceased clients, and are using unethical contracts with clients that penalize residents who decide to drop out of the lawsuit.…

June 18, 2013

China orders its industries to cut pollution

Source: The Independent (UK), June 16, 2013
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China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, has ordered companies in its most polluting industries to cut emissions by 30 per cent over the next four years.

The directive, which will compel firms to improve their pollution control equipment and will fine those responsible for excessive emissions, is designed to defuse growing public anger at the country’s appalling environmental record. It is seen as the first stage of President Xi Jinping’s promised reforms to reduce atmospheric pollution and raise food and water safety standards.

“Reducing air pollution is about people’s welfare and the country’s economic future,” the State Council said in a statement. “On the one hand, smog is visible and affects the life of everyone, rich and poor. It has proven that environmental crises can stir controversy and greatly undermine social stability.”

China has seen a number of recent demonstrations – particularly among its growing middle class – against plans to build chemical plants in cities across the country. Sixteen of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are Chinese, and in the first three months of 2013 levels of two atmospheric pollutants in Beijing – nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter between 2.5 and 10 micrometers in diameter, known as PM10 – were 30 per cent higher than at the same time last year. In January, the Chinese capital saw levels of PM2.5 – particles below 2.5 micrometers in diameter – hit concentrations equivalent to those during the notorious peasouper fogs of 1950s London.…

April 5, 2013

China has 'mountains of dumped hazardous waste'

Source: Straits Times (Singapore), April 3, 2013
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A new “environmental time bomb” is ticking away in China, according to a new Greenpeace report citing tonnes of hazardous waste being dumped illegally by fertiliser manufacturers near residential areas.

Investigations carried out by the environmental activist group in several areas in south-western Sichuan province last year found mountain-like dumps of phosphogypsum, a by-product of phosphate fertiliser production.

In one instance, a 20-m-tall heap stretching 1km sits about 100m from Baiyi village and right next to the Mawei river in Mianzhu county.

China’s laws require hazardous waste to be stored more than 800m away from residential areas and at least 150m from surface water bodies.

“What’s worse is that phosphogypsum commonly contains a variety of extremely harmful substances,” Greenpeace campaigner Lang Xiyu told a media briefing yesterday.

Laboratory tests on samples collected from five companies accused of illegal dumping showed inorganic fluoride contents of up to 802 mg per litre, far exceeding the 100mg/l requirement.

Lang believes the dumping problem stems in part from overproduction in China’s phosphate fertiliser industry, which is the biggest in the world.

Total production hit 19.9 million tonnes last year, up 168 per cent from 7.4 million tonnes in 2001. Every tonne of fertiliser produced results in up to five tonnes of waste.…

March 21, 2013

Chinese premier vows to tackle pollution, food safety "with iron fist"

Source: BBC Newsfile (UK), March 17, 2013
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Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has vowed to tackle with mounting problems of environment pollution and food safety with “greater resolution and actions.”

“We are going to upgrade China’s economic development model, which means the people should be able to enjoy clean air, safe drinking water and food,” Li told a press conference on Sunday [17 March] shortly after the conclusion of this year’s parliamentary session.

Li said the government should solve the problems “without mercy and with iron fist”.

He also promised the government will deal with environment and food safety issues in more public and transparent ways.

The government will further create new thoughts on development and push forward the scientific development for the goal, said 57-year-old Li as he met the press for the first time as China’s premier.

Li was endorsed as the Chinese premier Friday at the first session of the 12th National People’s Congress, the country’s top legislature.

Source: Xinhua news agency, Beijing, in English


March 15, 2013

United States: Pennsylvania Makes Its Mark On National Chinese Drywall Coverage Dispute With "One Occurrence" Decision

Source:, March 12, 2013
By: Andrea Cortland, Cozen O’Connor

On February 15, 2013 a Pennsylvania federal district court held that the shipment of defective drywall from China to the United States constituted one “occurrence” for purposes of insurance coverage, and the occurrence took place when the damage caused by the drywall manifested itself in the residences or buildings of the underlying plaintiffs. With this ruling, Pennsylvania joins Virginia as one of the few states to opine regarding the number of occurrences in the Chinese drywall context.

Devon International, Devon International Industries, and Devon International Group (collectively, Devon), imported a single order of drywall from China to Pensacola, Fla. Unbeknownst to Devon, the drywall was defective, as it contained an inordinately high amount of sulfur, and a few years after selling the drywall to distributors in the United States, Devon was hit with a multitude of Chinese drywall lawsuits in various jurisdictions.

As is common with Chinese drywall cases, the plaintiffs in the underlying lawsuits generally alleged the sulfur emitted by the drywall damaged their real and personal property. Faced with these lawsuits, Devon turned to its liability insurer, Cincinnati Insurance Company (Cincinnati) to defend and indemnify it under the liability policies issued to it by Cincinnati for two consecutive policy periods. Although Cincinnati accepted Devon’s tender, the parties disagreed as to whether the underlying claims against Devon arose out of a single occurrence or multiple occurrences. Litigation between Devon and Cincinnati ensued.…

March 14, 2013

Zhejiang pig farm admits to dumping corpses

Source: Xinhua News Agency (China), March 13, 2013
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A pig farm in Jiaxing City, east China’s Zhejiang Province, on Wednesday confessed to dumping dead pigs into the Huangpu River, local authorities said.

The admission came after a preliminary investigation traced the birthplace of some of the dead pigs found in a section of the river in Shanghai to Jiaxing, the Jiaxing city government said.

Shanghai has provided 14 ear tags collected from the dead pigs, and Jiaxing is still investigating 13 of these tags.

Nearly 6,000 dead pigs had been pulled out of a section of the Huangpu River in Shanghai as of Tuesday.

Local media had previously reported that the corpses may have come from the upper reaches of the Huangpu River in Jiaxing City.

The Jiaxing city government said a total of 70,000 pigs died due to crude raising techniques and extreme weather at the beginning of the year. All the collected corpses were disposed of safely, and no mass swine epidemic had broken out in the region so far.


March 14, 2013

Shanghai Officials Admit Finding Many More Dead Pigs Than Thought

Source: Dow Jones News Service, March 12, 2013
Posted on:

Authorities in Shanghai late Tuesday appealed for calm as they acknowledged finding far more dead pigs in local rivers than earlier indicated and laid blame for the gruesome waterway disposal on careless farmers in a neighboring Chinese province.

In its latest estimate, the Shanghai municipal government said 5,916 pigs had been retrieved by Tuesday afternoon from the city’s Huangpu River and tributaries, more than six times the number authorities initially reported over the weekend. Key government bureaus in Shanghai played down public concerns about human and animal health from the incident, saying there is no epidemic and that the city’s drinking water remains safe. They said the problem was isolated to poor pig-farming methods in a town near Shanghai.

“The Shanghai municipal government pays great attention to improving the situation in the upper reaches of the Huangpu River after the floating-pig incident,” said a statement published by the municipal-government news service

One of China’s odder and more unsettling pollution scares has Shanghai on edge because most of the tap water for its 23 million residents comes from intakes on the Huangpu River. The river flows through Shanghai’s central districts about 70 kilometers (43 miles) downstream from where the pigs were floating.

The government reiterated Tuesday that its testing has detected only porcine circovirus pathogen, a disease that U.S. and Chinese researchers say affects pigs but isn’t a known health concern for humans. Officials said water monitoring is constant and that they are sample-testing retrieved dead pigs.…