December 2, 2013

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

Source: Asian News International, November 27, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

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: http://www.mondaq.com, 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.

To view Foley Hoag’s Law and the Environment Blog please click here

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

October 15, 2013

Louisiana Appellate Court holds that pollution exclusions bar coverage for pollution caused by oil and gas operations

Source: http://www.lexology.com, October 7, 2013
By: Ruth S. Kochenderfer and Kate M. Riggs, Steptoe & Johnson LLP

In Lodwick, L.L.C. v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc., No. 48,312-CA, 2013 WL 5477240 (La. Ct. App. Oct. 2, 2013) (applying Louisiana law), the Second Circuit Court of Appeal of Louisiana granted summary judgment in favor of commercial general liability (CGL) and excess insurers, holding that pollution exclusions barred coverage for pollution liability arising from gas and oil exploration and production activities.

The underlying liability arose when a group of land owners sued oil and gas operators for alleged property damage associated with oil and gas activities, including the operation of oil wells and disposal of oil field waste. In particular, plaintiffs allege that predecessors of the policyholder, Oracle, conducted oil and gas activities from 1978 to 1990 that caused pollution that migrated and damaged soil and groundwater underneath plaintiffs’ property. Id. at *1. The policyholder filed third-party claims seeking indemnification and defense from three CGL and excess liability insurers.1 The trial court granted partial summary judgment against two of the three insurers, agreeing with the policyholder that some of the underlying plaintiffs’ causes of action, such as breach of contract and trespass, could be unrelated to pollution damage, thus triggering the duty to defend and not falling within the scope of a pollution exclusion. Id. at *4. The trial court denied the policyholder’s summary judgment motion as to the third insurer on the basis that the insurer’s “other insurance” clause provided that the third insurer did not owe a defense if another insurer has a duty to defend. Id. at *2.…

September 26, 2013

United States: Second Circuit Canvases Case Law, Upholds Pollution Exclusion

Source: http://www.mondaq.com, September 23, 2013
By: Jason D. Sanders and Virginia L. White-Mahaffey, Steptoe & Johnson LLP

In Emerson Enterprises, LLC v. Hartford Accident and Indemnity Co. et al., No. 12-4287-CV, 2013 WL 4753564 (2d Cir. Sept. 5, 2013), the Second Circuit, applying New York law, affirmed the district court’s summary judgment order holding that three liability insurers had no duty to defend their policyholder against environmental contamination claims because their policies’ respective pollution exclusions barred coverage for pollution resulting from intentional conduct.

The policyholder in Emerson owned property in New York that it had leased out for industrial operations since the 1960s. In 2000, a dry well containing hazardous substances was discovered on the property and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) demanded that the policyholder pay for the investigation and remediation of the contamination. See Emerson Enterprises, LLC v. Crosby, No. 03-CV-6530, 2007 WL 4118299, *1 (W.D.N.Y. 2007). The policyholder subsequently sought a declaratory judgment that the three insurers were required to defend and indemnify it in the proceedings brought by the NYDEC. The policyholder argued that it was entitled to coverage under the policies of two of the insurers, based on an exception that made the pollution exclusion in those policies inapplicable to a “sudden and accidental” discharge of pollutants. The policyholder likewise argued that it was entitled to coverage under the third insurer’s policies because the pollution exclusion in those policies applied only where the discharge from which the damage arose was “expected or intended.”…

July 30, 2013

Ace: With M&A Uptick Comes Need to Review Environmental Liabilities

Source: http://www.propertycasualty360.com, July 26, 2013
By: Anya Khalamayzer

The rate of global mergers and acquisitions (M&A) has seen a recent uptick, prompting a need for growing companies to review their global environmental liability strategies, says a report by ACE’s retail operations group.

2012 showed M&A growth, according to Mergermarket statistics, with the year’s first quarter topping three successive quarters of the highest M&A values experienced in the last five years.

“Certainly, for those companies with strong balance sheets, access to inexpensive debt and superior working capital management practices, M&A will remain a core part of their strategic growth priorities, both domestically and abroad,” says Seth Gillston, senior vice president of Ace Global Mergers & Acquisitions Industry Practice and co-author of the study. “Companies seeking a stronger foothold in emerging markets–particularly within those countries that have liberalized foreign ownership rules–will continue to pursue M&A as a means of entry. In doing so, they will confront compliance with a patchwork quilt of constantly shifting environmental laws and regulations.”

Risk management is crucial to transferring exposures from a target company’s previous activities, which may include pollution, contamination, mold, hazardous waste, and toxic chemicals in water, air, and on land- especially when it comes to acquiring industrial manufacturers.…

July 9, 2013

Second Circuit rules that transfer of contaminated fuel oil between containers does not give rise to a “pollution condition”

Source: http://www.lexology.com, July 1, 2013
By: John O’Connor and Christopher M. Dougherty, Steptoe & Johnson LLP

In Colonial Oil Industries Inc. v. Indian Harbor Ins. Co., No. 12-4063-cv, 2013 US App. LEXIS 12946 (2d Cir. June 25, 2013), the Second Circuit, applying New York law, ruled that an insurer did not owe defense and indemnity coverage under a Pollution and Remediation Legal Liability (“PLL”) policy for costs incurred from the transfer of contaminated fuel oil from one container to another. Because “the unwitting introduction and transfer of polluted oil into containers otherwise meant to hold that oil” did not fall within the scope of a “pollution condition” as defined by the policy, the court affirmed the grant of summary judgment to the insurer. Id. at *10.

In Colonial Oil Industries, the policyholder’s business involved the transportation, storage and sale of fuel oil. Id. at *2. Over the course of two weeks in September 2009, the policyholder received 25 truckloads of oil from a third-party seller, which were placed into a partially-filled storage tank. Id. After some of the oil in the tank had been delivered to a customer, the policyholder discovered that the fuel oil it had received was contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyl (“PCB”). Id. This contamination resulted in lost oil and decontamination and remediation costs to both the policyholder and its customer. Id.

June 26, 2013

XL Group launches environmental insurance product for airports' fixed base operators

Source: http://commerciallines.insurance-business-review.com, June 19, 2013

Global insurance and reinsurance company XL Group’s Environmental business has rolled out a new pollution insurance protection policy for airports’ fixed base operators, which will addresses on-site pollution incidents, including incidents due to noise pollution.

Explaining the launch of new offering, XL Group North America environmental business president Matt O’Malley said that each industry has their own different environmental liability concerns.

“Fixed Base Operators face a number of environmental exposures specific to their work at an airfield,” Matt added.

“Our policy can be customized to recognize these exposures whether they are specific to hangers, fuel tanks, or aircraft fueling.”

The new policy offers protection for disaster response expense, including advisory costs, medical expenses, travel, temporary living, among other coverages and contractors pollution legal liability to provide coverage for contacting operations across the airport.

It also offers protection for financial responsibility for tanks and pollution and remediation legal liability to cover remediation and legal expenses as well as costs related to third-party bodily injury and property damage.

Designed to address environmental exposures of fixed base operators, the new policy can be customized to the individual needs of international, regional, municipal and privately-owned airports.

XL Group, through its subsidiaries, offers property, casualty and specialty products to industrial, commercial and professional firms, insurance companies and other enterprises across the globe.


June 24, 2013

Pollution From Mines Leads to Lawsuits

Read here about lawsuits that have been filed by environmentalists as a result of water pollution from reclaimed mine sites.


June 24, 2013

Ash Grove Cement agrees to pay $2.5 million fine

Source: http://www.kansascity.com, June 20, 2013
By: Kevin Collison

Ash Grove Cement has agreed to pay a $2.5 million fine and upgrade pollution controls at its plants in eight states, which should reduce its harmful atmospheric emissions by more than 17,000 tons a year, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

In a consent agreement announced this week, the Overland Park company said it will spend about $30 million in additional pollution controls at its nine Portland cement manufacturing plants, including facilities in Chanute, Kan., about 120 miles southwest of Kansas City, and Louisville, Neb., near Omaha.

In addition, the company has agreed to spend $750,000 to mitigate the effects of past excess emissions from several of its plants, close two older kilns at its Texas plant and spend $750,000 replacing old diesel truck engines at its plants in Kansas, Arkansas and Texas, according to the Justice Department.

“This significant settlement will achieve substantial reductions in air pollution from Ash Grove’s Portland cement manufacturing facilities and benefit the health of communities across the nation,” acting assistant attorney general Robert G. Dreher said in a statement.

Ash Grove officials said that while they believe their facilities comply with Clean Air Act and Environmental Protection Agency requirements, they reached the settlement to avoid continuing costly litigation with the federal government.

“The agreement with the EPA will allow Ash Grove to move forward and provide an environmentally sustainable product that is the foundation of our economy,” chairman and chief executive Charles T. Sunderland said in a statement.

The agreement is expected to take effect next month. The federal government has been joined in the settlement by Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Oregon and Washington, along with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency in Washington.

Federal officials say the pollution control improvements mandated by the agreement will remove thousands of tons of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide that have been emitted by the Ash Grove plants. It also is expected to reduce the amount of particulate matter coming from the facilities.

The settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.


June 18, 2013

China orders its industries to cut pollution

Source: The Independent (UK), June 16, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

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.…