Dangerous goods

September 20, 2013

State to undertake $500,000 cleanup of Pottstown Plating

Source: http://www.pottsmerc.com, September 18, 2013
By: Evan Brandt

The state is stepping in to make sure a half-million-dollar environmental cleanup at a closed plating facility in the borough gets completed after the bankrupt owner stopped work.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced Wednesday it would take over the removal of hazardous materials left over at the former Pottstown Plating on South Washington Street at the intersection with Industrial Highway.

The company, which performed electroplating, opened in 1950 and closed in 2009 just before going bankrupt, according to the DEP.

When the DEP inspected the site in 2009, it found a number of environmental issues that needed to be addressed and the company’s owners hied a contractor to removed hazardous waste there.

However, work stopped in 2010 “due to lack of funding,” and when the DEP issued an order for the clean-up to continue in October 2011, no further action was taken, according to the DEP release.

DEP spokesperson Lynda Rebarchak said the estimated cost for the cleanup is $553,851.

“Since this does not include off-site lab analysis costs, or extra funds for unexpected expenses, the final cost is likely to be higher,” she wrote in an email to The Mercury.

So far, there is no evidence there have been any releases into the environment.…

May 31, 2013

Secured Creditor Exemption Falls Short

Source: Great American Environmental Division, May 2013

A large Financial Institution (FI) entered into a settlement agreement where the FI agreed to reimburse the USEPA for $1.28 million in removal costs incurred at a former wood processing facility. The FI was the successor to the trustee who had held title to the property while the wood treating operations had resulted in releases of hazardous substances. Although the secured creditor exemption of CERCLA provides liability limitations, it does not extend to a fiduciary who negligently causes or contributes to a release. Given the length of time that the spills occurred, the risks posed by the contamination and that the hank had been notified by the USEPA about the contamination, it is possible the bank could have been exposed to potential contribution actions by other responsible parties. In an effort to limit their exposure to additional third-party claims, the FI entered into the settlement agreement with the USEPA which encompassed covenant not to sue and contribution protection.…

May 9, 2013

Money Given to Clean Up Contaminated Sites

Read here about cities in Iowa and Nebraska that have received federal funds to clean up contaminated sites.

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April 26, 2013

Developer liable to clean up pre-existing contamination for failing to exercise “appropriate care”

Source: http://www.lexology.com, April 10, 2013
By: Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP

A buyer of contaminated property was held to have lost its ability to claim to be a non-liable “bona fide prospective purchaser” under CERCLA because it failed to act appropriately with respect to hazardous substances it found on the site. As a result, the buyer was held responsible for cleanup costs.

From 1884 to 1972, fertilizer production on a 43 acre parcel of land in Charleston, SC caused releases of arsenic, lead and other hazardous substances into the soil. In 2003, Ashley II of Charleston, Inc. (Ashley) bought a 27.62 acre portion of the property to include it in a mixed-use project. After Ashley incurred response costs, it sued PCS Nitrogen, Inc. (PCS), as an alleged corporate successor to a company that had caused some of the contamination. PCS counterclaimed against Ashley and brought third-party contribution actions against others currently or formerly associated with the property.…

April 24, 2013

Excavation work that uncovers hazardous materials triggers insurance coverage

Source: http://www.lexology.com, April 12, 2013
By: David Erickson and Mark Anstoetter, Shook Hardy & Bacon LLP

A federal court in New York has held that uncovering buried hazardous substances during excavation constitutes a “sudden and accidental” release thus triggering insurance coverage. Narragansett Elec. Co. v. Am. Home Assurance Co., No. 11-CV-8299, (S.D.N.Y. 4/1/13). At issue was a Massachusetts gravel pit at which hazardous substances had been deposited at some time between 1930 and 1945 by a corporate predecessor of plaintiff Narragansett Electric Co. (Narragansett). Excavation conducted in 1984 uncovered the buried hazardous substances and, according to Massachusetts, “caused hazardous chemicals to be released to the environment.”

The state sued Narragansett, asserting that the company was liable for remediation of the contamination. Narragansett sought insurance coverage for its defense of the state’s lawsuit, but the insurer asserted that under the policy’s pollution exclusion, it had no duty either to cover losses or pay defense costs. Narragansett asserted that an exception to the pollution exclusion, which provided coverage in the event of pollution arising from a “sudden and accidental” occurrence, meant that the insurer had a duty to defend.

Ruling in Narragansett’s favor, the court found that the excavation which disturbed the deposited substances was an intervening event that was temporally sudden and was accidental “in the sense that it was an unexpected and unintentional consequence of excavation occurring outside the insured’s regular business activities and the Site’s function as a sand and gravel pit.” The court determined that the insurer owed its insured the costs of defense under these circumstances.

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March 7, 2013

Seller of drained transformers containing residual PCBs insulated from CERCLA "arranger" liability

Source: http://www.lexology.com, February 22, 2013
By: Andrew H. Perellis and Ilana R. Morady, Seyfarth Shaw LLP

If you sell products that you no longer need that contain residual hazardous substances, and the buyer mishandles them so as to create the need for remediation, are you liable under CERCLA for having arranged for disposal of the hazardous substance?

A federal District Court recently granted summary judgment to a CERCLA defendant concluding that because the company did not take intentional steps to dispose of a hazardous substance, it was not subject to CERCLA liability. In Carolina Power & Light Company (CP&L) v. Georgia Power Company et al., No. 08-CV-460 (E.D. NC February 1, 2013), CP&L filed a contribution complaint alleging that Georgia Power arranged for the disposal of hazardous waste when it sent electrical transformers containing PCB-laden oil to the Ward Superfund Site.

Yet Georgia Power only sent transformers to the site that were capped to prevent oil spillage or that had been drained of oil and contained only a residual oil sheen. The transformers also had resale value: the Ward Transformer Company repaired and reconditioned the transformers and sold them for a profit.

The Court granted Georgia Power’s summary judgment motion based on its consideration of several factors:

  • Value and usefulness of materials sold. Because Ward was able to resell the transformers for a profit, and because the transformers were, by extension, useful materials, the Court found that Georgia Power had not arranged for the disposal of a hazardous waste.
  • State of the product. Because the transformers were either capped or drained of oil save for a residual sheen, the Court found that Georgia Power’s purpose was not to dispose of the PCB-laden oil.
  • Knowledge. Although Georgia Power had general knowledge about transformer repair and PCBs in transformer oil, it did not have knowledge that the oil would be spilled or leaked at the Site.

This case is a reminder that simply sending a hazardous material to a Superfund site is not enough to establish arranger liability under CERCLA. Courts will undertake a fact-specific inquiry on whether a CERCLA defendant had the necessary intent to qualify as an arranger.

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February 9, 2012

Hewitt to address issues with asbestos in city buildings

Source: http://www.kxxv.com, February 6, 2012
By: Adam Shear

The City of Hewitt is planning to remove traces of asbestos from some of their buildings that they discovered when they began a renovation project.

The city found the traces of the hazardous material in the flooring of two bathrooms in their police department and in ceiling and some of the walls in the community services building. The city believes the asbestos was found due to the age of the buildings.

Texas state laws require that asbestos checks are done prior to any sort of building renovation. The city will remove the asbestos, which will cost them approximately $11,800, before continuing their $200,000 renovation plan of their city facilities.

“We’re taking the approach that we just really want to abate [the asbestos] and just get it out of the facilities,” said Hewitt City Manager Adam Miles. “It’s kind of funny, we anticipated there may be a little bit more in those older facilities and in our police department. Once we sampled it I was kind of surprised there was only a small quantity and I haven’t heard anyone that has come in and had any concerns about it being here.”

According to Miles the asbestos is not harmful to Hewitt employees and the removal process will also not affect their safety or productivity because of the precautionary measures they plan to take.

The city is renovating their buildings because they did not have enough of a budget to build new facilities. The city believes that eventually they will have to build new buildings.…

April 11, 2011

Liquid fertilizer spill shuts down SLC intersection

Source: http://www.wflx.com, April 6, 2011
By: Rachel Leigh

The intersection of Midway and Glades Cut-Off roads shut down Wednesday morning following a spill of liquid fertilizer officials said.

Liquid fertilizer reportedly was being transported in a tanker and there was a leak in the tank St. Lucie County Fire District spokeswoman Catherine Chaney said. The fertilizer apparently was being transferred from one tanker to another when one of the tankers ruptured, spilling fertilizer in the area.

Fire District crews went to the area about 8:25 a.m. Wednesday.

An amount of 3,800 gallons of fertilizer spilled.

The chemical is ammonia polyphosphate solution and is acidic according to the St. Lucie County Fire Department. They say no one is in any immediate danger.

The intersection of Midway and Glades Cut-Off roads is shut down, and St. Lucie County Sheriff’s deputies are diverting traffic away from the area.

Officials say a hazardous materials cleanup company is on scene. It was hired by the transport company of the spilled tanker.…

March 31, 2011

In brief: Storage company fined for 2007 ammonia leak

Source: Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA), March 29, 2011
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Empire Cold Storage will pay a $67,142 fine for failing to report the release of an estimated 400 pounds of anhydrous ammonia in 2007 from its Spokane warehouse.

No injuries were reported from the leak on July 14, 2007, which occurred over about three hours at 1327 N. Oak St. Company officials failed to immediately report the leak to local and state authorities, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which reached a settlement with the company.

Empire Cold Storage uses large amounts of anhydrous ammonia as a refrigerant. The toxic gas attacks the skin, eyes, throat and lungs. It can cause serious injury or death.

Armed man robs Valley mini mart

A clerk at a convenience store in Spokane Valley was robbed Sunday by a man who showed the butt of a pistol hidden under a coat.…

March 9, 2011

Ammonia Leak Sends People to Hospital

Read here about how an ammonia leak in Connecticut sent 12 people to the hospital.…