March 6, 2013

Toxic site in Burlco remains troubling

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, March 3, 2013
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On a recent afternoon last month, a man and his dog jogged down a peaceful, winding lane in Moorestown past a row of tidy $725,000 homes that exhibited tiered fountains and stone goddesses.

Not on display in the Wexford development were about 58 monitoring wells that lie about 25 feet beneath the ground in the area, installed after hazardous, carcinogenic solvents were spilled at the nearby defense plant.

“We’re watching it,” said Larry Hajna, spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, referring to tainted groundwater the agency says was caused by Lockheed Martin’s predecessor, RCA Corp., nearly three decades ago.

While some tests show improvement, the monitoring area off Borton Landing Road has widened. Hazardous vapors were detected between 2008 and 2011 in air pockets of the soil near and beneath the basements of a nearby day-care center and 17 homes in the 60-house Wexford community.

Continued testing inside the buildings, however, has yielded conflicting results. Dangerous vapors were not detected in the day care but were found in a few homes, according to reports filed by Lockheed Martin’s state-licensed environmental consultant.

Two Wexford couples have filed a lawsuit in federal court against Lockheed Martin, alleging that the vapors have slowed the growth rates of their children.

The case, filed in 2011 by former next-door neighbors Michael and Ashley Leese, who have three children, and Jay and Raquel Winkler, who have two children, is approaching trial in U.S. District Court in Camden. The Leeses moved out last year but have not yet put their house up for sale.…

February 28, 2013

The Toxic Threat of Vapor Intrusion

Source: Risk Management, February 12, 2013
By: Anne E. Viner and David L. Rieser

Vapor intrusion may soon become an important environmental concern for commercial property owners, buyers, developers and lenders. While this is not a new issue, burgeoning state regulations, upcoming federal guidance and new environmental auditing standards—if passed—may make vapor intrusion a critical factor in commercial real estate transactions.

Fortunately, there are steps to take to prevent it from becoming a serious problem.

Exposure Dangers

Vapor intrusion refers to the potential for contaminants in the soil or groundwater beneath a building to enter the structure due to air movement that flows through cracks or crevices in the basement or lower floors. Theoretically, these contaminant vapors can accumulate and increase to levels that environmental agencies deem hazardous to human health.

Vapor intrusion can be dangerous. In the most extreme example, houses in Hartford, Illinois, have exploded due to gasoline vapor contamination. In the more typical setting, however, it is not clear whether vapor intrusion can present anything more than a theoretical risk.

New and Existing Regulations

During the previous 15 years, most state environmental agencies have generally considered buildings to present a physical barrier to exposure from outside contamination. They have approved numerous remediations that left contamination in place under buildings. State agencies have issued many No Further Remediation (NFR) letters in exactly such instances. But the new concern regarding vapor intrusion may undercut the validity of those NFRs.…

June 20, 2012

Risks increasing for properties with chlorinated solvent contamination

Source:, June 6, 2012
By: Susan P. Phillips and Katy E. Ward, Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo PC

For properties where chlorinated solvents have been released, new regulatory challenges and related liability concerns are increasing as a result of controversial human health studies recently published by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The following summarizes the new challenges and presents recommendations for addressing them.

Issues Presented by Chlorinated Solvents

Properties with chlorinated solvent contamination are already particularly difficult to clean up to meet regulatory standards. The two chlorinated solvents most typically of concern are tetrachloroethylene (PCE), a chemical long used in dry cleaning, and trichloroethylene (TCE), used in parts washing and degreasing activities. Both of these chemicals can migrate in groundwater, sink through water into bedrock where they are difficult to reach, contribute in certain conditions to indoor air contamination (known as “vapor intrusion”), and already are subject to very stringent cleanup standards.…

October 6, 2011

Industrial solvent TCE even more dangerous to people

Source: Los Angeles Times, September 30, 2011
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One of the most widespread groundwater contaminants in the nation is more dangerous to humans than earlier thought, a federal agency has determined, in a decision that could raise the cost of cleanups nationwide, including large areas of the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys.

The final risk assessment for trichloroethylene by the Environmental Protection Agency found that the widely used industrial solvent causes kidney and liver cancer, lymphoma and other health problems. That lays the groundwork to reevaluate the federal drinking-water standard for the contaminant: 5 parts per billion in water, and 1 microgram per cubic meter in air, officials said.

Paul Anastas, assistant administrator for the EPA’s office of research and development, said toxicity values for TCE reported in the risk assessment released this week may be used to establish new cleanup strategies at 761 Superfund sites, as well as in aquifers supplying drinking water to millions of residents in the San Gabriel and San Fernando valleys.

The risk assessment had been subject to more than a decade of delays. A 2001 draft assessment that suggested a strong link between TCE and cancer was opposed by the Defense Department, the Energy Department and NASA.…

September 6, 2011

Toxic solvent being cleaned up in Florida

Read here about a site in Orlando, FL that is being cleaned up of a toxic solvent dumped nearly 50 years ago.…

August 29, 2011

S.C. jury awards $4.7 million in toxic chemical case

Source: Lawyers USA, August 15, 2011
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A pair of South Carolina attorneys recently won millions in a personal injury case after rejecting a low ball settlement offer and overcoming a lack of medical evidence to prove the cause of their client’s life-altering disability.

William S. Tetterton and co-counsel Vincent A. Sheheen represented a father of two who began having debilitating muscle spasms after inhaling a toxic chemical that was sprayed into the small cab of a crane he was operating.

The crane operator, Terry Geddings, and his wife, Candace, sued contractor D&L Inc., alleging that two of its employees had acted recklessly when they sprayed six to a dozen bottles of a product called Blast-A-Coil into the crane’s air conditioning unit while Geddings was still inside.

The Achilles’ heel of their case was the fact that no medical or scientific study had ever established a connection between the inhalation of trichloroethylene, or TCE – the chemical used in Blast- A-Coil – and permanent nerve or muscle damage in humans.…

August 1, 2011

Tour discusses discovery of contaminant

Source:, July 28, 2011
By: Rachael Ruybalid

A groundwater contaminant at the former Nebraska Ordnance Plant wandered where it wasn’t wanted this spring.

During quarterly sampling in January and April at the perimeter monitoring well 116, trichloroethene (TCE), a solvent, was discovered in amounts exceeding the federal drinking water standards.

“We suspect an irrigation well pulled it that way,” Corps of Engineers Project Manager Kristine Stein said.

Because monitoring well 116, near the intersection of Johnson Creek and Clear Creek, is only located about 400 feet outside of the main contaminant plume, there is no reason to panic, Stein said. Once the drift was discovered, extraction well one was set to increase its pumping to its maximum rate of 191 gallons per minute in an attempt to bring the contaminated groundwater out of the perimeter monitoring well area.

So far, it seems to be working.

The level of contaminant in the monitoring well is already down from what it was.

“The extraction well is doing its job and the plume is in containment,” Stein said.

Stein added that none of the residential wells in the area were impacted by the escaped TCE.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducted its annual site tour and open house at the former NOP near Mead on July 20. The guided bus tour went around to several locations at the NOP site with representatives from the Corps and the Corps’ contractor, ECC, available for questioning.…

May 27, 2011

AVX buys fouled land in Myrtle Beach

Source: Sun News (Myrtle Beach, SC), May 24, 1011
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Electronic components maker AVX Corp. has purchased the Myrtle Beach property that it contaminated with a suspected carcinogen called trichloroethylene, according to Horry County property records.

AVX paid nearly $4.6 million for the approximately 21.5-acre parcel previously owned by Horry Land Co., according to a deed transfer recorded last week.

The property is across the street from the manufacturer’s facility along 17th Avenue South.

The price tag was less than the $5.4 million that Horry Land sought when it sued AVX over the contamination in October 2007. That lawsuit eventually was moved to federal court and the two sides reached a settlement agreement in midtrial earlier this year.

Those involved in the land sale could not be reached for comment Monday. AVX lawyer Kevin Dunlap, Horry Land officials and their lawyer, Saunders Bridges, did not return telephone calls seeking comment.…

March 14, 2011

Myrtle Beach officials consider legal action over AVX pollution

Source:, March 10, 2011
By: David Wren

Myrtle Beach officials say they are concerned that groundwater contamination from AVX Corp. might be more widespread than previously thought, and they are looking into whether legal action is warranted against the manufacturer.

“We want to know what liability they [AVX] have to the city and to the residents that live in that area,” Mayor John Rhodes said Wednesday. “We’re looking at the impact this has had on those residents’ welfare and the value of their property. Also, what impact the negative publicity will have on the city.”

Rhodes said more information will be gathered before the city makes any decisions. The City Council received a legal briefing on the issue during its meeting Tuesday. …

March 1, 2011

AVX settles contamination lawsuit

Source: Sun News (Myrtle Beach, SC), February 28, 2011
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AVX Corp. on Monday reached a confidential settlement with an adjacent land owner over groundwater contamination near the manufacturer’s facility on 17th Avenue South in Myrtle Beach, bringing an end to a dispute that started in late 2007.

The settlement was announced during what would have been the fourth day of testimony in a jury trial over contamination discovered on property owned by Horry Land Co.

Neither AVX nor Horry Land would comment on the settlement agreement.

The trial will move into a second phase beginning Thursday, when Judge Terry Wooten will decide whether the U.S. military contributed to the groundwater contamination on Horry Land’s site.

AVX has admitted in contaminated Horry Land’s groundwater with trichloroethylene, a common degreaser in the 1960s and ’70s that now has been determined to cause cancer. AVX, however, says some of the contamination could have come from the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, which is located adjacent to the manufacturer. The military also used large amounts of trichloroethylene, or TCE, and there are several areas on the former base where groundwater is polluted by the chemical.…