Source: http://www.propertycasualty360.com, November 27, 2013
By: Amanda Duncan
Vacancy isn’t the only headache property owners can face: Empty buildings and land can cause pollution-related liability. Learn about possible options to mitigate environmental liabilities through insurance and risk management.
As America’s real estate crisis recovers along with our economy, more than 14 million properties remain vacant or abandoned across the country. Real estate is considered a vacant property when it is not currently occupied or in use. This includes empty lots as well as structures.
Cities like Detroit, Cleveland and Las Vegas are dealing with thousands of undeveloped lots, empty houses and even entire neighborhoods, as well as commercial, retail and industrial properties. This has resulted in an increase in crime and lower property values for surrounding areas. Local communities left to care for these properties by default do not have the time or resources to keep the properties in good condition, thus causing an increase in exposure to risks like vandalism, fire, theft and water damage. In turn, these risks hinder the possibility of resale and revitalization in the future as economic conditions continue to improve, leading to possible setbacks throughout our communities.
Several environmental risks are associated with all types of vacant properties. Older buildings may have existing asbestos insulation and tiles, as well as lead paint and lead piping. All buildings constructed before 1980 have the potential to contain both asbestos-containing materials and lead-based paint. Leaking heating oil tanks, pipes and appliances are prevalent, as well as any chemicals or lubricants stored on premises in garages or sheds.…
Source: XL Group Insurance, Construction Insider
By: Laura Wagner, Vice President Construction Practice
Construction activities pose a variety of environmental risks. Construction equipment and materials brought to the jobsite, including fuels, solvents, adhesives, concrete, paint, pesticides, sealers, thinners, and waterproofing agents, all have the potential for environmental impact if mishandled or stored improperly. Water intrusion and the resulting potential for mold, leaks and spill during routine equipment maintenance and fuel storage also carry potential environmental liabilities.
In addition to the risks posed by equipment and materials, contractors also have to keep up with a variety of changing codes, rules and regulations. Clean Air and Clean Water Act violations with fines in the millions of dollars are making news. Asbestos litigation, legionella outbreaks, public perceptions on hydro-fracturing, lead rules and stormwater runoff are other hot topics that are on the list of contractors’ environmental concerns. Add to that the changing exposures surrounding green buildings and the state DOTs pollution coverage requirements and contractors have a lot to manage.
Given the nature of construction and its interaction with people and the environment, it is no wonder why environmental risk management is high up on a contractor’s list of business concerns. Contractors looking to protect public health, their employees and their profitability, have to be attentive to managing their environmental risks as well as the environmental risks around them that can become their problem if not properly handled.…
Source: http://www.montereyherald.com, August 6, 2011
Two companies agreed to pay $110,000 in fines this week for asbestos violations stemming from a 2009 renovation project at Windsor Monterey Care Center.
The work involved scraping an asbestos-laden acoustic ceiling. The facility’s parent company was faulted for failing to conduct a federally required asbestos survey or to notify Cal-OSHA or the Monterey Bay Area Unified Air Pollution Control District before the project.
S&F Management Co. LLC, which oversaw the work, failed to protect workers. Because wet methods were not used, asbestos dust was released, increasing the workers’ risk for lung cancer and other respiratory diseases.
Windsor ultimately hired an environmental firm to remediate the contamination and properly dispose of the hazardous waste.
Monterey County environmental prosecutor Dije Ndreu stressed the importance of conducting pre-demolition asbestos surveys, which are required of all facilities except residential buildings with four or fewer dwellings.…
Acknowledgement to Great American Environmental Division
While installing new electrical lines in a historic building the contractor used a hole saw to cut through a ceiling. Unknown to the contractor, the saw had inadvertently disturbed and released asbestos-containing insulation material. The contractor had to pay for clean-up costs for the asbestos fibers released throughout the building.…
Source: http://www.kold.com, June 28, 2011
By: Bud Foster
A few years ago, it was not unusual for people to use washes and arroyos as their own personal garbage dumps.
It was not illegal, it was convenient and some thought it was a good way to help prevent flooding by shoring up the sides.
Those days are long gone, but what’s left behind is, in some cases, just being discovered.
One of those things is asbestos.
“We did find some asbestos when we were constructing Phase II of the Arroyo Chico project, says Chris Cawein, deputy director of the county flood control district.
Construction workers found a mix of things including siding and roof tiles that contained the asbestos.
About 1500 cubic feet of soil and debris had to be removed from two sites and another one will be cleaned up later this week.…
Source: http://chronicle.northcoastnow.com, June 8, 2011
A Lakewood property owner is being sued by the state attorney general for hiring a contractor who did not follow asbestos removal protocol when demolishing two buildings on Middle Avenue in Elyria.
The two properties at 518 and 522 Middle Avenue came down in May 2007. At that time, Donald Mountain, of Lakewood, was the listed owner of the two properties, and he hired Cleveland-based Richard’s Your Outdoor Connection Inc., to raze the buildings.
However, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Lorain County Common Pleas Court by attorneys in the Environmental Enforcement Section of the Ohio Attorney General’s office, neither Mountain nor the company he hired notified the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency of plans to demolish the properties, and a thorough asbestos inspection of the properties was not done prior to the buildings being torn down and the site being cleared.
Under Ohio law, any time asbestos is removed from a building, a thorough remediation plan must be filed through the Ohio EPA and precisely followed to ensure the particles, which have been linked to cancer, are not airborne in the community.
The lawsuit, which demands a civil penalty award of $25,000, said Mountain “increased risk to the public health and environment, and illegally thwarted the ability of the Ohio EPA to ensure that the quality of air in Lorain County is protected from the emission of airborne asbestos.”
The contractor, Richard Whitt, did secure two demolition permits from the Elyria Building Department, but failed to follow up with the Ohio EPA for the proper prior inspection and notification.…
Source: http://www.14wfie.com, April 1, 2011
By: Araceli Thiele
Is it wise to start removing asbestos from a school when school is still in session? A question being asked in Carmi, Illinois.
In March a letter was sent out to parents notifying them of asbestos removal at Carmi White County High School.
School officials say although it will take place during the next three months, it will not compromise air quality or put students or staff at risk.
For those parents who contacted WFIE, removing asbestos on school property during the school year sounds dangerous.
Environmental experts say it’s common and strictly regulated by the state.
“We will not be going into lets say a classroom and removing pipe insulation, and then little Johnny and little Susie being in there the next day. It doesn’t work like that,” Jeffry Faust of Environmental Consultants LLC, Principal says.
As required by state law, Jeffry Faust is with a third party agency hired to oversee contractors.…
Source: http://www.telegram.com, March 26, 2011
By: Martin Luttrell
The owner of the Bancroft Commons apartment building downtown pleaded guilty in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston yesterday to the improper removal and disposal of asbestos and for failing to provide pay records and evading unemployment insurance payments.
Worcester Commons LLC and JM Realty Management Inc., real estate development and property management companies, and their president, John McGrail, pleaded guilty and were sentenced to probation, according to state Attorney General Martha Coakley.
Mr. McGrail contended that his companies did not intend to improperly dispose of construction materials, and that the allegations were initiated by undisclosed union workers whom he did not hire. …
Source: Daily Freeman, Kingston, NY, March 23, 2011
Contractors working on refurbishing the sidewalk canopies in the city’s Uptown business district have found asbestos that will have to be removed, Mayor James Sottile said on Tuesday.
Sottile said the amount of asbestos is unknown and that a deeper examination will be needed.
The mayor said he does not believe the discovery will significantly delay the project, which is to be completed in August, but that specially licensed asbestos-removal experts will need to be hired.
“It is a hoop we will have to jump through, but I don’t think it will bring the project to a screeching halt,” Sottile said.
It was not immediately clear whether the asbestos removal will add to the of the $1.7 million cost of project, which started last week.
Asbestos long was used as insulation in construction projects because of its ability to absorb sound and resist heat, electrical and chemical damage. But it was linked to cancer in the 1970s, its use was discontinued, and it now must be removed when found.…
Source: http://www.oregonlive.com, March 23, 2011
The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division has fined a Newport retailer for asbestos violations. OSHA issued three citations, totaling $300 in fines, to the Dollar Tree Store for failure to identify the asbestos, repair or remove it and for failing to provide employees with an awareness training course.
The asbestos was found in the basement level of the store and in a freight room on the main level. In the basement, tests found 1 percent asbestos dust and on the main floor 1 percent asbestos in floor tile glue.
Melanie Mesaros, public information officer for OSHA said inspectors said the risk from the dust was low and that tiles had been covered.
The store will close for one week in late April to tear out the flooring and replace it, she said.…