U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

March 22, 2012

Federal lawsuit filed over drilling in Granger Township

Source: The Medina-Gazette, March 15, 2012
By: Jennifer Pignolet

Two Granger Township couples filed federal lawsuits against Landmark 4 LLC seeking damages for contamination of their properties they allege is from hydraulic gas and oil drilling in the area.

On Tuesday, Mark and Sandra Mangan and William and Stephanie Boggs filed separate suits in U.S. District Court.

In December, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services determined the two State Road homes pose a public health hazard because of methane gas in the water lines.

According to the lawsuits, Landmark 4, began operating two gas wells at Allardale Park, about a half-mile from the two properties, in 2008.

A news release from Climaco, Wilcox, Peca, Tarantino & Garofoli Co. LPA, the law firm representing the couples, said its clients contend they have lost value on their homes as well as quality of life as a result of fracking gone wrong.

“The Plaintiffs charge that Landmark 4 LLC was negligent in the drilling, construction and operation of the Allard Wells and allowed pollutants, including fracking fluid, to be discharged into the ground or into the waters near Plaintiffs’ homes and water wells,” the release said. “The lawsuits further allege that the plaintiffs’ water wells have been contaminated, and that they have been and continue to be exposed to hazardous chemicals, including barium, manganese and strontium.”

Sandra Mangan said Wednesday the families were deferring all comments to their attorneys.…

November 7, 2011

Clean-up slated for former mining site

Source: http://www.mininggazette.com, November 4, 2011
By: Garrett Neese

Over the next year-and-a-half, crews will be removing asbestos and contaminated soil from the former Calumet & Hecla Mining Power Plant in Lake Linden.

The contamination, which includes heavy metals such as lead, arsenic and copper, dates back to the mining days. Honeywell, Inc., the current owner of the building, will pay for and conduct the work, which will be overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Michigan Department of Community Health referred the site to the EPA.

The work is separate from other EPA Superfund activity in the Keweenaw.

“The neat thing about this project is it’s completely different from anything else that’s happened up there,” said Dave Novak, community involvement coordinator with the EPA in Chicago. “(There is) No connection to Torch Lake or (the) Quincy Smelter. It stands on its own merits.”

The project will continue through March 2013. Early work began last week, including surveying the property, establishing limits and marking where a fence should go.

“That should be either being bid this week, or construction of the fence will begin this week,” he said.

A more detailed timeline won’t be available until a work plan is approved, Novak said.

“Obviously, weather is a big factor, and we’re coming into the winter season up there, which doesn’t favor construction of any kind,” he said. “The fence, however, is the prime concern right now, because you have the asbestos and the heavy metals, site security to keep people out.”

A construction office will be located near the site, along with a site information board with information on the project and its status.

Sometime in early 2012, the EPA will hold a public meeting about the site; residents will receive a notice and a fact sheet about the project. Site documents will also be available at the Lake Linden-Hubbell Public Library and the Portage Lake District Library in Houghton.…

September 7, 2011

Leaks from Ameren toxic waste pond in Labadie stir fears

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 1, 2011
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Since 1992, a coal ash pond next to the Ameren power plant here has been ‘seeping,” as the company puts it, leaking into the surrounding area, according to state records.

Put another way, one of the plant’s two ponds storing toxic coal waste has been hemorrhaging up to 35 gallons a minute for two decades.

There’s no evidence the leaks have fouled the groundwater or the drinking water of nearby homes. And critics say that’s precisely the problem — neither the state nor the company has ever tested the area for contamination.

“The government hasn’t required Ameren to do anything,” said Maxine Lipeles, co-director of the Washington University Interdisciplinary Environmental Law Clinic, which represents the Labadie Environmental Organization in opposing a new, 400-acre coal ash landfill at the site. “On the other hand, Ameren has known about it. … And as far as we know, they haven’t done any testing in the area.”

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the agency charged with regulating coal ash ponds and enforcing the Clean Water Act in the state, isn’t required to monitor groundwater at the site under current state laws. But it has legal authority to do so under the plant’s water permit and hasn’t — despite learning of the leaks from Ameren 19 years ago, according to utility filings with the DNR.…

August 8, 2011

New questions raised about ‘fracking’ and drinking water

Source: International Herald Tribune, August 5, 2011
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Critics of drilling method find it hard to get access to energy firms records.

For decades, oil and gas industry executives as well as regulators have maintained that a drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, that is used for most natural gas wells has never contaminated underground drinking water.

The claim is based in part on a simple fact: fracking, in which water and toxic chemicals are injected at high pressure into the ground to break up rocks and release the gas trapped there, occurs thousands of feet below drinking-water aquifers. Because of that distance, the drilling chemicals pose no risk, industry executives have argued.

There have been over a million wells hydraulically fractured in the history of the industry, and there is not one, not one, reported case of a freshwater aquifer having ever been contaminated from hydraulic fracturing. Not one, Rex W. Tillerson, the chief executive of Exxon Mobil, said last year at a Congressional hearing on drilling in Washington.

It is a refrain that not only drilling proponents, but also lawmakers and even past and present directors of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have repeated often.…

August 4, 2011

UPDATE: Massachusetts Proposes $1 Mln Superfund Settlement

Source: Dow Jones News Service, August 3, 2011
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

–Filed settlement might help to clean up century-old pollution

–Companies involved include W.R. Grace, which will pay when it exits Chapter 11

–Proposed settlement calls for $300,000 in groundwater projects and $575,000 in other fish and wildlife projects

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

Massachusetts officials filed a $1 million settlement proposal to help clean up more than a century of pollution from companies including a predecessor of chemicals-maker W.R. Grace & Co. (GRA).

Factories around the 22 acres of land and water in the state’s Blackburn & Union Privileges Superfund Site contaminated the area with asbestos, arsenic, lead and other hazardous substances, state officials said.

The latest proposed settlement for restoration of the Walpole, Mass., site follows a roughly $13 million agreement last year with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It calls for $300,000 to help fund state-run groundwater- restoration projects and $575,000 for other projects with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

A W.R. Grace spokesman said the company agreed to the proposed settlement and will contribute to the projects once it emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.

The decree is subject to a public comment period and court approval.

A predecessor firm of W.R. Grace manufactured asbestos brake linings and clutch linings at the property from 1915 to 1936, the state said. A predecessor of another party in the settlement, Tyco Healthcare Group LP, later ran a textile factory at the site from 1946 to about 1983 that used caustic solutions. The property’s current owners are also parties to the settlement.…

August 1, 2011

The New “F” Word: “Fraccidental” Insurance Headaches

Source: http://www.propertycasualty360.com, July 29, 2011
By: Gina Jones, Ivy Riggs

Fracking: Understanding the opportunities & challenges of the latest environmental liability exposures

As the pace of change continues to increase at an exponential rate, many may find it challenging to keep up with yesterday’s trendy slang, much less that of today or tomorrow. So you might not raise an eyebrow to hear college students across the nation singing lyrics about how their drinking water is totally fracked.

Could mean anything, right?

However, when it’s no longer the hip 20-something talking, but rather your clients’ top executives who are demanding to know “What the frack is going on,” it’s time to arm yourself with the knowledge to answer their concerns.

WHAT IS FRACKING?

If you visit the online glossary of a leading oilfield services firm, you may not find the term “fracking,” despite it being in common use among both industry experts and laymen alike. What you will find is the term from which it derives: hydraulic fracturing.

This process involves both horizontal and vertical drilling into our nation’s shale formations. The wellbore is then injected with specially engineered fluids at sufficiently high pressure to fracture the deposits and release the natural gas they contain.

These deposits are so extensive that they are anticipated to produce 20 percent of our total domestic gas supply by the end of this decade, according to the latest estimates by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.…

June 30, 2011

Water contamination is concern in oil and gas drilling

Source: Vindicator (Youngstown, OH), June 29, 2011
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Water contamination seems to be the main opposition to oil and gas drilling throughout shale regions in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Many Mahoning Valley residents, specifically in Columbiana County, signed leases with Oklahoma-based Chesapeake Energy Corp. in April. But until drilling picks up, landowners have been urged to take the necessary steps to ensure water remains safe to drink.

“You inevitably will have accidents or spills,” said Christopher Baronzzi, an attorney at the Youngstown law firm of Harrington, Hoppe & Mitchell Ltd., who spoke Tuesday to nearly 250 landowners at a seminar at Das Dutch Haus Village Inn on state Route 14. “If you have hundreds of thousands of gallons of chemicals spilled, there could be groundwater contamination.”

Baronzzi urged landowners who use wells for drinking water to seek comprehensive water tests before oil and gas companies begin drilling. Water from public utilities must meet National Primary Drinking Water Standards, but well water is a landowner’s responsibility.…

May 27, 2011

AVX buys fouled land in Myrtle Beach

Source: Sun News (Myrtle Beach, SC), May 24, 1011
Posted on: http://fpn.advisen.com

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.…

May 23, 2011

Eyesore in St. Louis will be tough cleanup task

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 12, 2011
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency authorized the cleanup of the Carter Carburetor plant in north St. Louis earlier this year, it was supposed to mark the beginning of the end for the industrial eyesore staining part of North Grand Boulevard.

But a quarter-century after contamination was first suspected at the site near old Sportsman’s Park, there are still years of work ahead and significant hurdles to overcome before the neighborhood is rid of its toxic legacy.

The EPA must get commitments to pay for the $27 million cleanup. The technology chosen to extract contaminants from underground must still be proven effective before the work actually begins. And additional testing has been conducted in the surrounding neighborhood to determine whether it has been fouled by pollutants that migrated off the site.

What’s more, the EPA still can’t convince some north St. Louis residents that it’s serious about ridding the neighborhood of a blight and hazard that won’t seem to go away.…

April 11, 2011

ENVIRONMENT: Public agencies took contaminated soil to reservation facility

Source: The Press-Enterprise, April 11, 2011
By: David Danelski

School districts, the U.S. Marine Corps and Caltrans are among the public agencies and private companies that improperly shipped more than 160,000 tons of hazardous waste to an outdoor soil-recycling plant in Mecca that did not have a state permit to accept such waste, a Press-Enterprise analysis of 2009-2010 state data has found.

The shipments to the 10-acre Western Environmental Inc. plant, located on tribal land near the Salton Sea, violated state regulations that require those who create or dig up such waste to dispose of it at state-permitted facilities.

Residents of Mecca, a predominantly Hispanic farming community in the Coachella Valley, have complained to public agencies about strong odors from plant. They say the smell has made children and adults ill, sending some to the hospital. …