September 4, 2013

Enviro-lawsuit forces five Indiana coal plants to shut down

Source: The Daily Caller, August 30, 2013
By: Michael Bastasch

The “war on coal” has five new casualties.

A lawsuit brought by environmental groups has forced the shutdown of five Indiana coal-fired power plants by 2018, totalling 668 megawatts of power.

Duke Energy announced that it would retire five coal plants as part of a settlement reached with the Sierra Club and other environmental groups in a dispute over a clean air permit Duke was issued by the state of Indiana for its new coal-gasification plant in the southwestern part of the state. The five plants will be retired by 2018.

These coal retirements add to the more than 50,000 megawatts of coal-fired power that has been shut down or slated for retirement since January 2010, according to the Sierra Club.

“While today’s settlement is a step in the right direction, more must be done to ensure that Hoosier families are protected from rising energy bills and the enormous health threats posed by Indiana’s reliance on coal-fired power plants,” said Jodi Perras with the Sierra Club’s anti-coal campaign.

The Sierra Club and other environmental groups have been targeting coal plants nationwide for retirement, which they say contribute to global warming and cause health problems.

As part of the settlement, Duke Energy also agreed to create a feed-in tariff program to purchase at least 30 megawatts of solar power from Indiana customers or buy or install 15 megawatts of green power capacity. A feed-in tariff allows customers to sell back home-generated solar power to electric utilities.

“We’re glad to resolve these issues. Our new, cleaner Edwardsport plant modernizes our fleet and enables us to retire older, coal-fired generation,” said Doug Esamann, president of Duke Energy Indiana. “The new plant replaces the old Edwardsport units, which date back to the 1940s and 1950s and were retired in 2011. In addition, we retired two older units at our southern Indiana Gallagher plant in 2012.”

Coal-fired power provided 83 percent of the Indiana’s electricity in 2011, and the state was ranked seventh among U.S. coal producing states in 2010, according to the Energy Information Administration.…

March 6, 2013

IN Oil Refiner Paying Millions for Pollution Controls

Read here about an oil refiner in Indiana who will pay millions to settle Clean Air Act violations.


February 6, 2013

IN Superfund May Become a Park

Read here about Superfund site in Indiana that may become a public park.


January 23, 2013

Recent decisions from the Indiana Court of Appeals and Indiana Supreme Court find absolute pollution exclusion overbroad and ambiguous

Source:, December 31, 2012
By: Brian S. Scarbrough and Jan A. Larson, Jenner & Block

In State Automobile Insurance Co. v. DMY Realty Co., LLP,977 N.E.2d 411 (Ind. Ct. App. Oct. 23, 2012) (No. 49A05-1109-PL-486), the Indiana Court of Appeals relied on a number of other recent Indiana Supreme Court cases in finding an absolute pollution exclusion overbroad and ambiguous such that it did not bar coverage for an environmental contamination and remediation claim. The policyholder, DMY Realty, owned a shopping center in Indiana, which included two retail spaces formerly occupied by dry cleaning facilities. Several environmental site assessments were conducted in connection with the potential purchase of the shopping center. These site assessments uncovered the presence of PCE and TCE, chlorinated solvents commonly used as part of the dry cleaning process, at levels requiring remediation. DMY Realty sought coverage for the contamination and related remediation costs from its insurers. Following the insurers’ coverage denials based on the pollution exclusion, DMY Realty filed a declaratory judgment action. The policies contained an absolute pollution exclusion precluding coverage for “bodily injury or property damage arising out of the actual, alleged or threatened discharge, dispersal, seepage, migration, release or escape of pollutants.” Id. at *1. The term “pollutants” was further defined as “any solid, liquid, gaseous or thermal irritant or contaminant, including smoke, vapor, soot, fumes, acids, alkalis, chemicals and waste. Waste includes materials to be recycled, reconditioned or reclaimed.” Id. Many of the policies also contained an Indiana-specific endorsement providing that the pollution exclusion “applies whether or not the irritant or contaminant has any function in your business, operations, premises, site or location.” Id. at *2. The trial court granted summary judgment for DMY Realty, finding the language of the pollution exclusion overbroad and ambiguous such that it did not bar coverage, as well as noting that the endorsement failed to cure the ambiguity and only took effect once the exclusion had been applied. On State Auto’s appeal, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed, relying on several recent decisions by the Indiana Supreme Court that found identical or substantially similar pollution exclusions ambiguous. Id. at *7-9 (citing State Auto Mut. Ins. Co. v. Flexdar, Inc., 964 N.E.2d 845 (Ind. 2012); Freidline v. Shelby Ins. Co., 774 N.E.2d 37 (Ind. 2002); Am. States Ins. Co. v. Kiger, 662 N.E.2d 945 (Ind. 1996); Seymour Mfg. Co. v. Commercial Union Ins. Co., 665 N.E.2d 891 (Ind. 1996)). According to the court, “this clause cannot be read literally as it would negate virtually all coverage because practically every substance would qualify as a ‘pollutant’ under this definition, rendering the exclusion meaningless.” Id. at *8 (quoting Kiger, 662 N.E.2d at 948). The court further reasoned under Indiana law, “the insurer can (and should) specify what falls within its pollution exclusion.” Id. at *9.


December 26, 2012

Landfill Cleanup Is a Money Pit for Ex-Owners

Source: Courthouse News Service, December 20, 2012
By: Joseph Celentino

Owners and insurers connected to an Indiana landfill abandoned in the early 1980s may have to shell out additional funds for cleanup efforts, the 7th Circuit ruled.

From 1977 to 1982, Environmental Chemical and Conservation Co., or Enviro-Chem, operated waste-disposal and recycling sites near Zionsville, Ind. When the Blankert family closed the company, they left behind storage drums and other waste at three disposal sites.

The Environmental Protection Agency responded in 1983 by allocating $3 million to clean the area, and then sought reimbursement from the Blankerts, Enviro-Chem and 250 other parties.

Cleanup initially focused on the main Enviro-Chem site and north side sanitary landfill, but investigators later found pollution at a third location.

Samples of the soil and groundwater around the third site found elevated concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs). Water collected from nearby Finley Creek, which contributes to the Indianapolis water supply, also contained elevated levels of VOCs.

Responding to a 1996 EPA order, Enviro-Chem and several other companies helped reroute Finley Creek away from the third site.

Plans for cleanup of the third site continued into 1999, when the EPA directed groups responsible for the pollution to bankroll an Engineering Evaluation and Cost Analysis (EE/CA) of the area and reimburse past EPA response and oversight costs.

All obligations under the 1999 order were met in October 2000, but the work was not over.…

June 21, 2012

EPA Settles Case in 2 States: Clean Air Act Case Brings $1 Million Penalty

Source: National Law Review, June 11, 2012
By Alice Su, Center for Public Integrity

The EPA issues a $1 million fine against a global plastics producer for alleged Clean Air Act violations in Alabama and Indiana.

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a $1 million fine against a global plastics producer for alleged Clean Air Act violations at its plants in two small, polluted communities seven hours apart in Alabama and Indiana.

The civil penalty against SABIC Innovative Plastics, announced May 31, targets leak detection and repair failings that resulted in hundreds of tons of hazardous air pollutant releases every year, the federal agency said.

SABIC, a global producer of polymers and thermoplastics, is a top employer in the two towns involved: Burkville, a rural community best known for hosting Alabama’s annual Okra Festival, and Mount Vernon, a town of just under 6,700 nestled in the southernmost tip of Indiana.

The EPA’s 15-count complaint said SABIC skirted Clean Air Act rules on monitoring and repairing equipment leaks, complying with chemical plant regulations and reporting known violations. SABIC agreed to the penalty to settle the case.

The Mount Vernon plant recently won several environmental awards. In 2011, the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable recognized it with a Most Valuable Pollution Prevention award. This April, the plant won three Responsible Care Energy Efficiency Awards from the American Chemistry Council.…

December 10, 2010

Indiana Court Approves $4.3 Million Cleanup Settlement for Contaminated Scrap Yards

Publication Date 09/21/2010
Source: Business Wire

A federal Judge in Indiana today approved a $4.3 million settlement agreement, ending three years of environmental litigation over cleanup costs for two Evansville sites contaminated with lead and PCBs.

The Evansville Greenway & Remediation Trust filed a lawsuit in 2007 against Southern Indiana Gas & Electric Company (SIGECO), Heritage Coal; Mead Johnson Co., Black Beauty Coal; Squaw Creek Coal, and Mulzer Crushed Stone under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and Indianas Environmental Legal Action statute (ELA) seeking cleanup costs for polluted scrap yards owned by General Waste Products, Inc. …

July 22, 2010

Wastewater Treatment Superintendent Faces Jail Time

A U.S. District Court in Indiana sentenced the former superintendent of a wastewater treatment facility to one year in prison for falsifying discharge monitoring reports. The erroneous reports concealed violations of the Clean Water Act. The former plant head admitted to making as many as 55 separate falsifications in reports from September 2004 through May 2007 to show that pollutant levels were in compliance
with concentration limits when he knew that the levels were too high.…