United States

December 10, 2013

New Rule in WV Regarding Fracking Waste

Read here about a new rule in West Virginia regarding fracking waste.

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December 5, 2013

Oil Spill in MS River

Read here about clean up of an oil spill in the Mississippi River that resulted from a sunken towboat.

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December 2, 2013

Fuel Leak from Towboat in IA

Read here about cleanup of a fuel leak in the Mississippi River in Iowa that resulted from a sunken towboat.…

November 26, 2013

Absolute pollution exclusion does not unambiguously exclude coverage for Chinese Drywall claims under Massachusetts law

Source: http://www.lexology.com, October 31, 2013
Bby: Jan A. Larson, Jenner & Block

A Colorado state court applying Massachusetts law recently denied an insurer’s motion for summary judgment, holding that its absolute pollution exclusion and the term “pollutant” are ambiguous as applied to Chinese Drywall and should be construed in favor of coverage for the insured. ProBuild Holdings, Inc. v. Travelers Prop. Cas. Co. of America, No. 10-0378 (Colo. Dist. Ct. Oct. 4, 2013). In general, Massachusetts looks to the reasonable expectations of the insured in determining coverage, and has refused to apply the absolute pollution exclusion to activities that arise in the course of normal activities simply because the accident happens to involve a “discharge, dispersal, release or escape of an irritant or contaminant,” as those terms commonly appear in an insurance policy’s exclusionary language. Appreciating the nuances of Massachusetts law, the court distinguished external environmental contamination from internal property damage and personal injury, even where caused by the same substance. The court noted that “context is key” and held that the term “pollutants” is ambiguous as applied to any substances potentially emitted from Chinese Drywall installed in a residential home. In so holding, the court distinguished a contrary, unpublished decision from the Eleventh Circuit interpreting Massachusetts law – Granite State Ins. Co. v. American Building Materials, Inc., 504 F. App’x 815 (11th Cir. 2013).

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November 25, 2013

Legionella raises exposures for building contractors

Source: http://www.businessinsurance.com, November 20, 2013
By: Gavin Souter

Legionella is a relatively new liability exposure for construction firms, but pending safety standards concerning the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease should raise risk management concerns, underwriting experts say.

Contractors should ensure that projects they work on comply with the new standard to shield them from liability and to protect their workers, they say.

Legionella often is associated with entities such as cruise lines or hotels, where well-publicized outbreaks of the disease have caused deaths, but the bacteria that causes the disease can be all over construction sites, said Diana Eichfeld, Philadelphia-based assistant vice president at Ace Environmental Risk, a unit of Ace USA.

The disease usually is transmitted through inhalation of water vapor and can be located in water systems such as decorative fountains, in heating systems, and on construction materials, such as PVC and rubber, she said.…

November 14, 2013

ND fire leads to oil & saltwater spill

Read here about an explosion in North Dakota that resulted in an oil and saltwater spill.

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November 14, 2013

NV residents reach mine pollution settlement

Read here about residents in Nevada that have reached a $19.5 million mine pollution settlement.

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November 14, 2013

ACE Releases Advisory Examining Environmental Risks Related to Healthcare Construction Projects

Source: http://online.wsj.com, November 4, 2013

The ACE Group today announced the release of a new advisory entitled, “Healthcare Construction: Managing the Environmental Risks.” The advisory discusses the potential risks and considerations healthcare organizations should identify during new construction or renovation projects. The advisory also examines opportunities to help mitigate the risks of potential pollutant exposures and describes how healthcare organizations can meet higher standards of care and take a proactive approach to risk management to help minimize the potentially harmful effects of pollutants during construction.

“To keep pace with the advances in medical technology and the advent of healthcare reform, healthcare organizations have begun to upgrade their facilities or build new ones to better serve their patients,” said Craig Richardson, Senior Vice President, ACE Environmental Risk. “During new healthcare construction or renovation projects, environmental risks can be a challenge because of the hazards the work poses to patients, staff and visitors. ACE’s Environmental Risk Practice understands these risks and has developed this advisory to provide useful information to help healthcare facilities better mitigate future pollution risks.”

The ACE Environmental Advisory was authored by Gerry Rojewski, Vice President and North America Product Line Manager for the ACE Environmental Contractor Program. The advisory is part of a larger series of papers that ACE produces, which are designed to provide useful information on current industry topics faced by risk managers.…

November 13, 2013

Could fracking boom peter out sooner than DOE expects?: Will U.S. fracking boom soon go bust?

Source: USAToday.com, November 3, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Surging oil and gas production is nudging the nation closer to energy independence. But new research suggests the boom could peter out long before the United States reaches this decades-old goal.

Many wells behind the energy gush are quickly losing productivity, and some areas could hit peak levels sooner than the U.S. government expects, according to analyses presented last week at a Geological Society of America meeting in Denver.

“It’s a temporary bonanza,” says J. David Hughes, an energy expert at the Post Carbon Institute, a research group focused on sustainability. He studied two of the nation’s largest shale rock formations, now the source of huge amounts of oil and gas, and said they could start declining as early as 2016 or 2017.

The reason: “sweet spots” small areas with the highest yields. Hughes says these spots simply don’t last long. Unless more wells are drilled, the Bakken shale of North Dakota and Montana loses 44% of its production after a year and the Eagle Ford shale of Texas, 34%. Most of the nation’s major shale regions produce both oil and gas.

“You have to keep drilling more and more just to maintain production,” says Hughes, adding this can become too costly to be profitable. He notes oil production in the Bakken, which skyrocketed between 2008 and 2012, has already started to slow down and Eagle’s Ford may soon follow. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects both shale plays will hit their oil peak in 2020, declining afterward.…

November 12, 2013

City, state ask Madison-Kipp to replace tainted soil in rain garden

Source: The Wisconsin State Journal, November 5, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

The city and state want Madison-Kipp to remove tainted soil from a large drainage ditch between the company and Capital City Bike Trail.

The city-owned “rain garden,” created in 2006 and planted with prairie plants to filter runoff, showed high levels of PCBs in tests last year, and the city and state Department of Natural Resources now want the East Side company to remove the top few feet of soil and replace it with clean soil. Kipp has agreed.

All entities say, “Let’s get rid of this,” said John Hausbeck of Public Health Madison-Dane County.

The city and Kipp minimized immediate health threats but said it’s prudent to remove the soils.

“Those using the bike path generally would not be exposed to what’s going on in the ditch,” Hausbeck said.

Mark Meunier, the company’s vice president of human resources, added, “No one goes in the rain garden. It doesn’t pose an immediate health hazard to anyone. We were asked, ‘Will you dig it out?’ That will be done shortly.”

Ald. Marsha Rummel, 6th District, who represents the area, called the remediation plan “good news.”

City, DNR and Kipp officials, who met Monday, are now deciding the best plan to remove the soil, Hausbeck and Meunier said.…