December 23, 2010

Design Negligence Leads to Costly Settlement for Desalination Plant

An $8 mm settlement was reached on a claim involving the design, engineering and testing of the reverse osmosis and pre-treatment systems for a desalination plant. Several claims were filed involving the failure of the dual sand filtration system and improper feasibility assessments. Claimant asserted negligence in design, architectural and engineering services, including the design of the intake structures and related pipelines connecting the intake structures of the pre-treatment system of the facility. The claimant contended that the system’s dual sand filters could not remove particulates, resulting in an inability to meet pre-treatment effluent standards. According to the claimant, the system requires greater maintenance and has a decreased useful life span.

This is a claim scenario developed from a single claim or several claims and has been developed for illustrative purposes only.

September 21, 2010

Sprinkler System Installed Without Adequate Vacuum Breakers

Acknowledgement to Great American

A plumbing contractor installing a lawn sprinkler system did not install adequate vacuum breakers on the discharge side of the water supply valves. When pressure in a drinking water system fed by the same water main fell below atmospheric pressure, a vacuum was created which caused back-siphonage of stagnant water from the lawn sprinkler system into the drinking water supply. Several people drank from the water supply and contracted dysentery. Costs were incurred to investigate the issue, purge the system and to provide temporary clean water. Suits followed alleging bodily injury.…

September 21, 2010

Contractor Drills Through Pipe

Acknowledgement to Great American

A drywall contractor was hanging new drywall at a construction project when an employee accidentally drilled through a small water pipe which was located behind the wall. The drywall contractor did not realize the water leak was occurring and a substantial amount of mold grew between the walls before anyone noticed. The drywall contractor was held responsible for clean-up of the mold as well as defense of third party bodily injury claims.…

September 2, 2010

Mold Discovered at Local College

Acknowledgement to Great American

A local college received several complaints from faculty and students about musty odors coming from the basement of a classroom building. Upon investigating and interviewing staff members, it was determined that a downward sloped walkway into the basement caused rainwater to leak into a service entrance. While the rainwater intrusion was reported to the maintenance department from time to time, no action was taken. Results of the investigation also showed that ventilation in the basement of the building was poor. The combination of rainwater intrusion and poor ventilation over the years caused extensive mold contamination which needed to be remediated.…

August 16, 2010

Freon Contaminates Residential Water Supply Well

Acknowledgement to XL Environmental

Litigation was initiated by a water district against three companies for Freon contamination of a water supply well used by local residents. These three companies, in turn, filed a third-party claim against the insured as the prior owner of the facility from which the contamination discharged. Freon, which was leaking from an air conditioning system, impacted the water supply well. A $2,000,000 water treatment system was installed by the local authorities to treat the impacted water.

XL’s environmental claims counsel and a technical consultant worked with the insured to investigate whether and when the Freon release occurred. Local defense counsel was retained to defend the insured’s interests in the litigation. A mechanical engineer was retained to assist in determining whether and how Freon contamination could have occurred. A hydrologist was retained to assist in evaluating technical issues involved in the source, timing, and extent of Freon contamination.

Evidence uncovered during discovery revealed that Freon releases occurred prior to the insured’s ownership. There was no evidence established that a Freon release occurred during the insured’s ownership. The insured’s Pollution and Remediation Legal Liability Policy paid in excess of $425,000 for all costs and expenses associated with the litigation.…

August 13, 2010

Waste Treatment Facility Fire Causes Contamination

Acknowledgement to XL Environmental

An explosion and fire occurred at an XL insured waste treatment facility due to a fire in an on-site trailer containing waste drums. The drums contained lab-packed chemicals including solvents. Between 30,000 and 40,000 gallons of fire water was generated in fire extinguishing efforts. The fire water was retained on the site due to a storm water system and containment dikes. There was no off-site migration of the fire water.

XL’s environmental technical consultant worked closely with the insured following the incident. The technical consultant assisted the insured with oversight of the cleanup at the facility. Most of the water and spilled chemicals were contained on concrete and asphalt, so there were only minor soil affects. Approximately 20 cubic yards of waste were generated from superficial scraping of soils and the parking lot. Free products were recontainerized, as well as cleaned and decontaminated.

XL paid over $250,000 under the insured’s Pollution and Remediation Legal Liability Policy for the emergency response and subsequent cleanup of the insured’s facility.…

July 21, 2010

Camp Enhancement

Pollution Engineering (06/10) Vol. 42, No. 6, P. 31; Zeller, Stephen N.; Ambulkar, Archis

Dredging is the process of extracting sediment material from waterway beds, and common techniques of sediment removal from lakes include draining and excavating the lake, mechanical dredging, and hydraulic dredging. The hydraulic dredging process entails removing and transporting waterways material via sediment/water slurry, and it does not require water drawdown in the lake. Instead, the dredging equipment floats on the water surface and sucks up sediment/water slurry from the lake, conveying the slurry to an offsite location via centrifugal pumps. The process primarily involves a floating barge, dredge unit, pumps, and discharge line, and sediment removal can be carried out over an entire lake or from specific locations within the lakes. Camp Yolijwa in Newville, Pa., faced the buildup of organic sediment in Lake Henrietta, which was impacting the waterfront activities that campers enjoyed. The camp selected a geotextile or filter bags option to separate the water from the sediments; slurry was pumped into polypropylene filter bags, where sediment was trapped and water allowed to filter out through the polypropylene material. The dredged sediment material was disposed offsite following filtering. Some 7,000 cubic yards of dredge material from the lake bottom was removed, and the hydraulic dredging method used a pump to lift the material deposited on the lake bottom and pump it into large filter bags. Within a week or two, the material in the bags reached a texture comparable to wet topsoil and was transported by backhoe and dump truck, and bags were sited along the lake banks so that water returned to the lake as they drained. The dredged material was expected to be compacted to less than 50 percent of its original volume, and the contractor was able to pump the material to any location within an elevation of less than 25 vertical feet of the lake bottom at no extra cost.…

July 12, 2010

Home Builder Ordered to Pay to Resolve Clean Water Act Violations

A nationally recognized home builder was recently fined $1 million in Clean Water Act violations at nearly 600 construction sites in 18 states and the District of Columbia. The company was also ordered to implement a stormwater compliance program to improve their “compliance with stormwater run-off requirements at existing and future construction sites.  (Source: http://washington.bizjournals.com)

The Clean Water Act mandates that construction sites have measures in place that prevent pollution from being discharged into nearby waterways.

A PLL policy can be crafted to provide coverage for civil and administrative fines and penalties as well as punitive damages, where allowable by law as well as any resultant Natural Resource Damages associated with stormwater runoff.…