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Pollution Litigation Review - January 2002
Pollution Litigation Review - January 2002

USA/ Canada

On January 31, 2002, it was reported that an Indiana appellate court further restricted application of the state's 10 year product liability statute of repose with regard to asbestos personal injury claims (Jurich v. Garlock Inc.). The court held that the statute was unconstitutional regarding claims brought by those exposed to asbestos before the enactment of the statute. An earlier decision by an Indiana appellate court held that asbestos claims against companies that mined or sold commercial asbestos were exempted from the statute of repose (Black v. ACandS Inc.). These restrictions on the 10 year product liability statute of repose could open thousands of asbestos personal injury claims. BNA Toxics Law Daily 1/31/02

On January 15, 2002, a Louisiana appeals court found that claims arising from odors emanating from a waste water treatment facility, located at a port, were not barred by a total pollution exclusion (Smith v. Reliance Insurance Co. of Illinois). The case arose after odors from waste impoundments at the South Louisiana Port drifted over a residential community in April 1999. Over 5,000 residents filed suit alleging personal injuries, economic damages and inconvenience. Reliance declined to defend or indemnify based upon a total pollution exclusion in its marine commercial general liability policy. The insurer relied upon the definition of "pollutants" which included "wastes" and also cited a previous Louisiana Supreme Court decision that found a similar exclusion to be unambiguous (Ducote v. Koch Pipeline). The appellate court rejected these arguments and pointed out that the state's Supreme Court overruled DuCote one year later (Doerr v. Mobil Oil Corp.). Reliance also argued that the claim was excluded by two other provisions; an exclusion which barred coverage for injuries arising from or caused by "waste or waste disposal sites;" and an exclusion barring claims arising out of "inhalation of, ingestion of, or absorption of...gases, products, wastes or emissions." The court found these exclusions to be inapplicable because there were no allegations that a waste or disposal site was involved in the release and the exclusion that runs to the inhalation of wastes or emission does not "unambiguously exclude coverage for the plaintiffs' alleged inconvenience and avoidance of odors." BNA Toxics Law Daily 1/31/02

On January 31, 2002, it was reported that The City of San Francisco has filed a lawsuit against the owners of four apartment complexes in Bayview-Hunters Point. Apartment Investment and Management Co. allegedly ignored orders for at least two years to remediate toxic mold and other problems. The complaint states that the company has "maintained the properties in conditions that are dangerous to human life, detrimental to health...with insufficient ventilation... and inadequate or unsanitary sewage plumbing facilities." The buildings, which have a total of 604 apartments, allegedly have extensive water damage, dry rot and "recurring toxic mold." Residents are blaming adverse health affects including cases of asthma on exposure to mold. The suit is seeking to impose fines of up to $7,500 per unit per day which could add up to millions of dollars in fines. A separate article, published earlier this month, reported that the company settled a federal action regarding the failure to warn tenants of lead-based paint in their apartments by agreeing to pay a $129,580 fine and test and remediate some 130,000 apartments. Data Times 1/31/02 & Denver Post 1/17/02

On January 31, 2002, it was reported that pools of mercury have been discovered at a closed chemical plant near Wilmington, North Carolina only 300 feet from the Cape Fear River, a drinking water source for hundreds of residents. HoltraChem Manufacturing Co., LLC was created by Honeywell and another company, Honeywell and subsequently HoltraChem operated the chloralkali plant from 1963 to 2000 when HoltraChem dissolved. State environmental regulators then came in to inspect the facility and found "liquid pools of elementary mercury distributed throughout the bottom floor of the facility....One pool measured 15 feet by 25 feet in size." A stream of mercury was leaking from a tank and was also dripping from pipes. Mercury in the air in the plant measured 14 times higher than federal limits. Due to the magnitude of the mercury contamination discovered, state regulators have asked the federal EPA for assistance. Honeywell has stated that it will "pursue the remediation plan." Earlier this month 9 former Honeywell employees who worked at this facility filed suits alleging bodily injuries, including brain damage, caused by exposure to elevated levels of mercury due to the owner's refusal to cleanup mercury spills at the plant. Knight Ridder Tribune Business News 1/31/02

On January 31, 2002, it was reported that just as cleanup operations were near completion at the Wingate Superfund site in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, dioxin contamination was found in the soil of 17 residential yards adjacent to the site. The Superfund site was formerly the city's incinerator and landfill site. Remediation contractors will begin cleanup of the residential properties. South Florida Sun-Sentinel 1/31/02

On January 31, 2002, it was reported that a copper recycling firm has settled a state action by agreeing to pay a civil penalty of $700,000 for a 1995 spill. Gaston Copper had a spill in 1995 that resulted in lead, cadmium, chromium and arsenic seeping into soil. The company took eight months to begin cleanup operations after the spill. Historical contamination, arising from buried toxic substances, at the facility is also the subject of an ongoing federal and state cleanup action. Knight Ridder Tribune Business News 1/31/02

On January 31, 2002, it was reported that a Connecticut contractor settled a state action by agreeing to pay over $475,000 for violating environmental laws. Inspection conducted last year found violations of air, water and wetland protection laws at O&G Industries' asphalt plants rock quarries and gravel mines in Beacon Falls, Bridgeport, Danbury, Harwinton and Stamford facilities. The company also agreed to revamp operations and pay for long term monitoring to ensure compliance with environmental laws. Associated Press 1/31/02

On January 30, 2002, it was reported that there are approximately 4,000 childhood lead poisoning cases in Wisconsin annually. Wausau Daily Herald 1/30/02

On January 9, 2002, it was reported that a plaintiffs' bar attorney firm, which late last year stated its intent to bring lead poisoning litigation to mid-west jurisdictions, has filed nine separate lawsuits in Ohio. The cases all involve the families of allegedly lead poisoned children suing their landlords. The cases have all been filed in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court (McCane v. Rates; Johnson-Gibson v. McKinley Wiggins; Philpott v. Greer; Walker v. Barnett Management; Morris v. Lovelace; Chambers v. Kirby; Dothard v. Frazzin; and Severs v. Whitmore). Mealey's Litigation Reporter Lead 1/9/02

On January 9, 2002, it was reported that during fiscal year 2001, just over 149,000 New Jersey children ages 16 years and younger were tested for lead poisoning. This represented an 8.5% increase in the number of children tested compared to the previous year. Over 5,600 or 3.7% of the children tested had lead levels in excess of the federal safety level of 10 micrograms per deciliter (mpds). Nearly 9% of children from Essex County had lead levels over 10 mpds. This year the state's Department of Health and Senior Services expects to increase the number of children screened for lead poisoning. Mealey's Litigation Reporter Lead 1/9/02

On January 30, 2002, it was reported that mold contamination at a Carson City, Nevada elementary school will cost between $800,000 and $3.5 million. Mold has infested the walls in ten classrooms at Bordewich Elementary School. Mold was also discovered in a Nevada high school. The school was closed after Stachybotrys was discovered in two areas of Pahrump Valley High School. Remediation, including replacing dry wall is expected to take up to four weeks. Parents voiced concerns that the mold may be responsible for various ailments experienced by their children. Las Vegas Review-Journal 1/29/02 & Reno Gazette-Journal 1/30/02

On January 30, 2002, it was reported that within the past two months mold contamination has been discovered in dozens of public office buildings and private residences in Nevada. Reno Gazette-Journal 1/30/02

On January 30, 2002, it was reported that according to the EPA, old sewage systems relied upon by 772 communities in 32 states are releasing over 1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage into U.S. waterways annually. Two thirds of these old systems are not in compliance with minimum federal standards that became effective on January 1, 1997. Environmental News Network 1/30/02

On January 30, 2002, it was reported that nine public drinking water wells in Orange County, California have been closed due to the discovery of a new contaminant, 1,4 dioxane, which is listed as a probable carcinogen. Levels of the chemical found in the wells were very low with the highest level found just below 20 parts per billion (ppb). These levels still exceeded the state's recommended drinking water threshold of 3 ppb. Knight Ridder Tribune Business News 1/30/02

On January 29, 2002, it was reported that diversified manufacturer and defense contractor Honeywell International Inc. is currently facing some 47,000 asbestos personal injury claims. The company has paid about $53 million to resolve asbestos personal injury claims over the past twenty years. O the total cases involved, about 74 percent were reportedly dismissed without merit. Honeywell states that it has $2 billion of insurance coverage for asbestos personal injury claims. In addition to the 47,000 current open asbestos claims, the firm may also be exposed to additional asbestos claims related to North American Refractories which it sold to Austrian firm RHI. Honeywell owned North American Refractories from 1979 to 1986. Honeywell reportedly agreed to indemnify RHI for claims arising from discontinued products prior to 1986. North American Refractories is facing some 116,000 asbestos personal injury claims. Reuters 1/29/02

On January 29, 2002, it was reported that Allstate Insurance Company received over 4,000 mold claims in 2001. MSNBC.com 1/29/02

On January 29, 2002, it was reported that some scientists and environmentalists are calling for a ban on a chemical flame retardant used in foam furniture. Early studies reportedly show that polybrominated diphenyl ether, or PBDE, poses some of the same dangers as PCBs and DDT, both banned decades ago. In 1998, Swedish scientists reported that there has been a 40 percent increase in levels of PBDE in human breast milk since 1972 and in December 2001, another study published by the journal Environmental Science & Technology concluded that the breast milk of North American mothers contained at least 40 times the highest concentrations of PBDE found in Sweden. PBDE is building up throughout the food chain and increasing levels have been found in fish in the U.S. Like certain other persistent organic pollutants, PBDE builds up in body fat and remains in the environment for years without breaking down. European regulators have already acted to ban the type of PBDE used in foam furniture manufacture. The ban takes affect next year. The only manufacturer in the U.S. is Great Lakes Chemical. Associated Press 1/29/02

On January 29, it was reported that Reynolds (Oregon) School District employees were relocated on December 21st after unsafe levels of mold were discovered in their office building. An industrial hygienist has been retained to determine the extent of the mold contamination. Mold contamination has reportedly caused problems at Reynolds schools as well. At least one school, Troutdale Elementary, had extensive remediation work done this past summer. The Oregonian 1/29/02

On January 30, 2002, it was reported that a record setting upstate New York lead poisoning suit has been resolved (Graves v. Chen). The case involved two lead poisoned siblings. The landlord, a painter and a municipality were all named as defendants. Last year, the case resulted in a $6.2 million verdict, the highest verdict in an upstate New York lead poisoning case. The case ultimately settled for $1.75 million before appeal after insurers agreed to pay in excess of policy limits to avoid a bad faith claim for refusing to settle for policy limits, which totaled $800,000. This is a record setting settlement for an upstate New York lead poisoning case. Under the settlement, the County of Albany will pay $600,000, North Country Insurance will pay $500,000, Metropolitan Property and Casualty Ins. Co. will pay $300,000, Mutual Reinsurance Bureau will pay $225,000 over the total limits of $800,000 and the painter contractor will pay $125,000. law.com 1/30/02

On January 29, 2002, it was reported that the federal EPA has lowered the level of the contaminant perchlorate in drinking water considered safe from 32 parts per billion (ppb) to 1 ppb. For children the agency lowered the safe level from 10 ppb to 0.3 ppb. The federal government lowered the safety levels after reviewing new studies which concluded that perchlorate is more harmful than previously thought. Perchlorate can impair brain development in early childhood, impairs thyroid function and can cause cancer in adults. Perchlorate is a chemical salt used in the manufacture of rocket propulsion, fireworks and in the manufacture of air bags. The chemical does not break down in soil or water. Subsequent to the new federal regulations. California lowered their "action level" on perchlorate in drinking water from 18 ppb to 4 ppb. The new standards are expected to drive up the costs and scope of cleanup in at least twenty states with groundwater contaminated with the substance. Knight Ridder Tribune Business News 1/29/02

On January 29, 2002, it was reported that aerospace and industrial products manufacturer, Goodrich Corp. has paid out $75 million related to asbestos claims in the fourth quarter of 2001. The company's asbestos liabilities arise from its Engineered Industrial Products subsidiary. Goodrich plans to spin off the subsidiary. Reuters 1/29/02

On January 29, 2002, a new twist on mold litigation was reported. A building owner has filed suit against a tenant seeking $3 million in damages for diminution of the building's value caused by the tenants allegations of mold contamination. The tenant, Carilion Health System used to occupy the top floor of the building but moved its employees out after elevated levels of mold were discovered. The building owner, Johnson Family Investment Corp. allegedly undertook its own investigation which concluded that levels of mold were "typical" for indoor environments as well as outdoors. The landlord is also seeking to recoup lost rent of over $10,000 per month. Knight Ridder Tribune Business News 1/29/02

On January 18, 2002, the Louisiana Department of Insurance announced that both the ISO absolute and total pollution exclusions have now been approved for use in the state. Nice, but the Louisiana Supreme Court has still not upheld these exclusions in pollution coverage disputes. Morrison Mahoney & Miller, LLP Insurance Law Newsletter 2/1/02

In January 2002, it was reported that in 2000, the Manville Trust received over 58,000 asbestos personal injury claims, twice as many as the previous year. In the first 11 months of 2001, the trust received over 69,000 claims. The trust has paid out some $2.7 billion to asbestos claimants since 1988. Recently the trust had to lower its payments to five cents on the dollar from 10 cents on the dollar as it only has about $2 million in remaining assets. Asbestos & Lead Abatement Report 1/02

In January 2002, it was reported that some 45 municipal lawsuits have now been filed against lead paint industry defendants generally seeking reimbursement for the costs of abating lead hazards in homes containing lead-based paint. Asbestos & Lead Abatement Report 1/02

On January 28, 2002, eight companies have settled a suit filed by the EPA by agreeing to pay $250 million to remediate solvents in the San Gabriel Valley aquifer. The solvent contamination allegedly emanated from industrial concerns in the 1950s and 1960s. The contaminant plume has now reached 31 public drinking water wells. The proposed settlement is with Aerojet GenCorp., Azusa Land Reclamation Inc., Fairchild Holding Corp., Hartwell Corp., Huffy Corp., Oil & Solvent Process Co., Reichold Inc. and Wynn Oil Co. These eight companies may file suits for contribution against 11 other firms that have refused to join in settlement discussions. Los Angeles Times 1/29/02

On January 28, 2002, it was reported that Asarco may be liable for $1 billion in cleanup costs arising from historical mining and smelting operations throughout the West. The company has agreed to cleanup contamination at and surrounding its former Rustin, Washington smelter and has already paid about $180 million in cleanup efforts. It will cost up to $90 million more to complete the cleanup. The federal government is also holding Asarco liable for cleanup projects in Nebraska, Oklahoma, Colorado, Montana, Arizona, and Idaho. The company is reportedly in financial distress due in part to low copper prices. If the company is unable to pay for sites it is responsible for contaminating, the EPA, under the Superfund law, may have to turn to other entities with ownership ties to these sites. Knight Ridder Tribune Business News 1/28/02

On January 28, 2002, it was reported that a mold remediation firm has filed suit against the Romeo (Michigan) School District seeking $1.5 million. The remediation firm alleges that it is owed the money for mold remediation at the Washington Elementary School. The school district originally approved $200,000 for the remediation project. The final bill including legal fees may now cost the school district over $2 million. Detroit News Local 4 1/28/02

On January 28, 2002, it was reported that a Roseville, Michigan family is suing their landlord over alleged adverse health affects caused by exposure to mold. A mother and two sons, ages 13 and 15, allege that exposure to mold in their apartment has resulted in aliments including asthma, fatigue, muscle pain, dizziness, nose bleeds and headaches. The two boys have reportedly been to the doctors more than 100 times since they moved into the unit eight years ago. Stachybotrys, penicillium and aspergillus have been found in nearly every room of their apartment. They have filed suit for damages against Valley Green Management Co. The Macomb Daily 1/28/02

On January 25, 2002, it was reported that scientists from the National Marine Fisheries Service have recently concluded that about 10,000 gallons of oil is still buried under the coastline of Alaska's Prince William Sound. The oil is left after it was spilled from the tanker Exxon Valdez in 1989. The accident spilled some 11 million gallons. According to recent studies most of the buried oil "hasn't changed much chemically since it was spilled and remains toxic." msnbc,com 1/25/02

On January 23, 2002, it was reported that a class action suit has been filed on behalf of hundreds or thousands of property owners living along several streams in Oklahoma which have allegedly been contaminated by animal wastes from local poultry processing operations. The claim alleges the streams have become unsuitable for any use due to poultry waste contamination including chicken parts, blood, fat machinery oils and other wastes and pollutants. The suit seeks property damages, diminution of value and cleanup costs from defendants: OK Foods Inc., which operates two poultry processing plants, Ecology Management Inc., a subsidiary of OK Foods which operates a waste treatment facility and parent company OK Industries. BNA Toxics Law Daily 1/23/02

On January 27, 2002, it was reported that Solutia has settled two class action suits filed by Anniston, Alabama residents alleging bodily injuries and property damage caused by PCB contamination for $80 million in addition to spending some $40 million in cleanup efforts. The company is facing at least two additional class actions. The trial is underway in one. The New York Times 1/27/02

On January 24, 2002, a California jury ordered Allied Signal to pay a mesothelioma victim $1.125 million in damages (Berning v. A.P. Green Industries et al.). The plaintiff alleged he was exposed to asbestos while changing the brakes on his family car. The jury held the brake products manufacturer, Allied Signal 100% liable for the plaintiff's injuries. The jury found the company negligent and found that asbestos-containing brake products it manufactured in the 1960s and 1970s were defective in design. Harris Martin Asbestos Columns 1/25/02

On January 20, 2002, it was reported that a California jury awarded a mesothelioma victim over $3 million (Taylor v. John Crane Inc.). The plaintiff who was a naval machinist for 20 years alleged his injuries were caused by exposure to asbestos contained in packaging and gaskets manufactured by the defendants. The jury held John Crane liable for 30% of the award. Garlock Inc. was held liable for 10% of the award. Westinghouse was held liable for 4% of the award and the U.S. Navy was held liable for 16% of the award. Other defendants were also held liable for various amounts of the award. Harris Martin Columns Asbestos 1/20/02

On January 18, 2001, a Texas district court held that alleged asbestos exposure at several company locations are multiple occurrences under the insured's primary policy (Fina Inc. v. The Travelers Indemnity Co. et al.). Workers hired by Fina filed personal injury suits against the company alleging they were exposed to asbestos at several locations operated by Fina. Fina's insurer argued that there was only one occurrence which was Fina's failure to protect the workers. The court held that the occurrence was exposure to asbestos, which in this case, constituted multiple occurrences under Travelers policy. Harris Martin Columns Asbestos 1/24/02

On January 25, 2002, it was reported that a New York lead poisoning case resulted in a structured settlement ultimately yielding the plaintiff $2 million (Aguilar v. Visalo Realty Co.; Sbiroli Properties a/k/a Media Associates D; and Ventura Land Corp.). The case settled before jury selection with the defendants agreeing to pay $500,000 up front. The plaintiff was age 7, in 1994, when diagnosed with lead levels of 45 micrograms per deciliter. Injuries alleged included attention-deficit disorder, sleep disorders, hyperactivity, headaches and inattentiveness. The defendants insurers were National Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, PA; North American Specialty Ins., and TIG Insurance. law.com 1/25/02

On January 24, 2002, it was reported that a New Jersey electric utility has settled a federal Clean Air Act suit by agreeing to pay a $1.4 million fine, $6 million on three pollution-cutting projects and spend $337 million on pollution control equipment for its coal-fired power plants in Jersey City and Hamilton, New Jersey. Under the settlement, Public Service Enterprise Group Fossil LLC, is required to cut 36,000 tons of sulfur dioxide emissions and 18,000 tons of nitrogen oxide emissions emitted from the two plants. Dow Jones International News Service 1/24/02

On January 24, 2002, it was reported that Cooper Industries, a manufacturer of tools, hardware and electrical products took a $30 million fourth quarter charge to cover potential asbestos liabilities. The company's potential asbestos liabilities are arising from its former Abex unit, now part of Federal-Mogul. Federal-Mogul has filed for bankruptcy and reportedly may not be able to honor an agreement to cover Abex asbestos claims.asbestos. Reuters 1/24/02

On January 24, 2002, it was reported that Georgia-Pacific, the nation's second largest paper and timber company, took a $350 million fourth quarter charge for asbestos-related liabilities. According to this article, "...it is unclear whether $350 million accurately represents the company's total exposure during the period." According to Georgia-Pacific, "a majority of its [asbestos] liabilities will [be] covered by insurance." Reuters 1/24/02

On January 24, 2002, it was reported that Murphy Oil USA has settled a federal and state suit by agreeing to pay a $5.5 million fine for environmental violations at its Madison, Wisconsin oil refinery. A U.S. District Court found the firm liable for violations of air, water, oil spill containment and waste handling laws. The settlement also requires Murphy Oil to pay $7.5 million to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions from two other refineries. Murphy Oil agreed to improve its ability to monitor and repair leaks and prevent oil spills and bring oil spill containment areas into compliance with current regulations. Lycos Environment News Service 1/24/02

On January 24, 2002, it was reported that the Governor of Maryland has proposed increasing the maximum criminal fines for violating air and water pollution laws from $2,500 per day up to a maximum of $50,000, to $25,000 per day with no maximum limit. Under the proposal, administrative fines for environmental violations will also see dramatic increases. The Governor is also reportedly seeking to impose tighter drinking water standards for the state that would be more strict than the current federal drinking water standards. SunSpot.net 1/24/02

On January 23, 2002, it was reported that the Environmental Bureau of Investigation has discovered a stream of contaminants emanating from a large office park about a mile outside of downtown Montreal. The office park, Technoparc Saint Laurent was built over an old landfill which accepted both household and industrial waste until 1966. There are now 17 companies engaged in biotechnology, pharmaceutical, telecommunications and aerospace research. Samples taken from the St. Lawrence have shown PCBs leaching from the site at levels "hundreds of thousands of times government guidelines." Lycos Environment News Service 1/23/02

On January 23, 2002, it was reported that the confidential settlement reached by 69 families with children diagnosed with cancer and three companies that contaminated groundwater in Toms River, New Jersey included at least $13.27 million. This amount reportedly does not include amounts paid to the estates of 15 children who died of cancer or payments made to adult siblings or adult survivors of cancer. The $13.27 million does include compensation for children diagnosed with cancer, child siblings' compensation for emotional distress and a "recurrence fund" to cover expenses should any of the children experience a relapse. The total settlement is likely millions of dollars more than the $13.27 million. The settling defendants; Ciba Specialty Chemicals Corp., Union Carbide Corp. and United Water of Toms River still face pending lawsuits from 600 plaintiffs who declined to settle. Dow Jones International News Service 1/23/02

In January 2002, it was reported that an Ohio jury awarded the family of a deceased mesothelioma victim $3.5 million (Robinson v. A.W. Chesterton et al.). The plaintiff was allegedly exposed to asbestos while working as a rigger at an ARMCO steel plant for nine years in the 1960s and 1970s. The plaintiff alleged that exposure to products made by North American Refractories Co. (NARCO), including Narcolite Lightweight Insulation Cables, Statz-On Insulating Cement and Unicote Finishing Cement caused his illness. The jury ordered NARCO to pay $2.5 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages. Harris Martin Columns Asbestos 1/02

In January 2002, it was reported that a Georgia appellate court vacated a $4.4 million award to a woman who alleged that occupational exposure to asbestos resulted in her asbestosis (Kellogg Company v. Pinkston). The initial award was against Kellogg Company where the plaintiff worked and was allegedly exposed to asbestos dust in one of the firm's food factories. The appellate court held that the plaintiff "was barred form bringing the common law tort action because her alleged injuries were compensable under the Workers' Comp Act." Harris Martin Columns Asbestos 1/02

On January 23, 2002, it was reported that the Washington State Department of Ecology is going to court to get a former hops farmer to pay over $1 million in cleanup costs for pesticide contamination of neighboring drinking water wells. The farmer is attempting to overturn the state's determination of liability by arguing that farmers' proper acceptance of delivery, mixing and application of pesticides is protected from liability under the state's Model Toxics Control Act. The state counters that the farmer was not a good steward mixing pesticides on bare soil and allowing spillage to seep into the soil. One neighbor's well has levels of the now banned pesticide Dinoseb 100 times higher than safety standards. In October, the federal EPA had 12,000 tons of contaminated soil removed from the hops farm. The EPA is separately seeking reimbursement for those costs. Knight Ridder Tribune News 1/23/02

On January 21, 2002, it was reported that the State of Wisconsin is considering promulgating comprehensive water pollution control laws. The new law, if passed would require new controls on farming and construction site operations, but would also require controls regarding contaminated water runoff from golf courses, athletic fields and even private properties over 5 acres in size. The regulations are expected to initially cost $65 million annually. The proposed rules for Wisconsin farmers are primarily aimed at controlling manure runoff and soil erosion and are expected to cost about $40 million per year. Knight Ridder Tribune Business News 1/21/02

On January, 21, 2002, it was reported that a new study by the Public Interest Research Group found that over 1,100 schools in the five states studied were built within a half mile of a hazardous waste site. The report cites a growing body of research indicating that being near hazardous waste sites can contribute to higher rates of learning disabilities, lower IQ and cancer. The five states studied were: California, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and New York. Knight Ridder Tribune Business News 1/21/02

On January 20,2002, it was reported that nine former Honeywell employees have filed separate toxic tort suits against the company alleging that their injuries resulted from exposure to elevated levels of mercury while working at the firm's Wilmington, North Carolina facility. The facility used mercury to process salt water into caustic soda and chlorine used by paper mills. Additional former employees may also file suit against the company. The plaintiffs allege injuries including brain damage, tremors, emotional disturbance and depression. Honeywell was reported to have previously settled a similar lawsuit filed by 113 former employees who worked in a Georgia plant for $17 million. Honeywell, a.k.a Allied Chemical Co. and AlliedSignal, built the plant in the 1960s, but sold the facility to LCP Chemicals & Plastics Inc. in 1979. Two former LCP executives were given prison sentences for "knowingly exposing" workers at Georgia facility to hazardous chemicals and illegally dumping hazardous wastes into tidal waters. Honeywell became involved with the facility again when it created a limited liability corporation with HoltraChem GP to acquire the plant in 1994. Knight Ridder Tribune News 1/20/02

On January 19, 2002, one person died and 60 others went to the hospital when a train derailed in Minot, North Dakota releasing a cloud of anhydrous ammonia into the air. Thirteen of the sixty were admitted into the hospital. The train was operated by the Canadian Pacific Railway. The New York Times 1/19/02

On January 18, 2002, it was reported that a new proposal has been put forward to remediate Portland, Oregon's harbor. Sediment in the harbor is contaminated with pesticides, tars, metals and PCBs. The harbor was added to the federal Superfund list in 2000. Nine PRPs have already agreed to spend up to $20 million to investigate the extent of the contamination. The new plan calls for the state to raise $80 million to $100 million to pay for the necessary cleanup and then recoup the remediation costs from PRPs. Knight Ridder Tribune Business News 1/18/02

On January 15, 2002, a California appellate court, in a matter of first impression, held that a claim for wrongful death caused by exposure to pesticides sprayed in an apartment building is barred by the policy's absolute pollution exclusion (MacKinnon et al v. Truck Insurance Exchange). The Fourth District Court of Appeal held that the claim was barred because the exclusion is not limited in scope to "environmental pollution," did not contain a sudden and accidental exception to the exclusion and the definition of "pollutant" includes chemicals which would include pesticides. Mealey's Litigation Report Insurance 1/22/02

On January 17, 2002, the Washington Supreme Court held that where existing contamination of the insured's property is known by the insured prior to purchasing a CGL policy and results in liability to a third party subsequent to the policy's purchase, claims for cleanup costs are barred as there has been no "occurrence" under the policy (Overton v. Consolidated Insurance). In this case the EPA had notified the insured of contamination in 1976. The insured purchased a CGL policy from Consolidated in 1979 which expired in 1982. The suit for third party damages was filed in the 1990s. The court reasoned that CGL polices only cover "(i) accidents which, (ii) during the policy period, (iii) result in property damage (iv) that is neither expected nor intended (v) from the standpoint of the insured." This is the first pro-insurer ruling by the Washington Supreme Court out of the past nine cases of pollution coverage litigation before the court. Morrison, Mahoney and Miller 1/17/02

In January 2002, it was reported that a suit has been filed against the Romeo, [Michigan] Community School District alleging that she suffered injuries resulting from exposure to mold in Washington Elementary School. The suit alleges that exposure to mold caused injuries or aggravated pre-existing conditions including asthma and a variety of other respiratory ailments. Washington Elementary School closed before the 2001-2002 school year due to mold contamination found in the ceiling and roof of the building. Mealey's Litigation Report Mold 1/02

On January 17, 2002, it was reported that PCBs emanating from a former Monsanto plant in Anniston, Alabama is still contaminating the air even though production of PCBs stopped in the mid 1970s. A laboratory manager at the University of Pennsylvania testified, in a suit brought by residents of Anniston against Solutia Inc. a corporate spin-off of Monsanto's chemical operations, that air samples taken near the plant measured PCB levels in the air nine times higher than federal limits. The trial, on behalf of 3,500 residents has been broken into groups. The trial involving the first 16 plaintiffs is underway. At least 13,000 more claims against the company are pending. Dow Jones International News Service 1/17/02

On January 17, 2002, it was reported that the nation's second largest apartment owner, Colorado based Apartment Investment and Management Co., has settled a federal action by agreeing to test over 130,000 apartments for lead-based paint and remove lead-based paint hazards in apartments where hazards are discovered. The company has also agreed to pay a $129,580 fine. The suit alleged that the company failed to warn tenants of potential lead paint hazards. The company owns some 304,000 apartment units in 48 states. Denver Post 1/17/02

On January 16, 2002, it was reported that an Ohio appellate court has upheld a $1.6 million award to an asbestos plaintiff (Cicchillo v. Pittsburgh Corning). The plaintiff alleged exposure to Pittsburgh Corning's products while employed as a steel worker caused his illness. The award was initially handed down last year. The plaintiff's family may now file suit against distributors of Pittsburgh Corning's products. Reuters 1/16/02

On January 17, 2002, it was reported that residents of Norco, California have filed suit against two of the nations largest developers alleging that they concealed the potential risks and contamination associated with an adjacent laboratory which engages in top secret work for the federal government. The facility, which began operations in the 1950s, is owned by Wyle Laboratories. The lab has been involved in testing radioactive materials and testing rocket and missile components. The facility is authorized to handle 12 of the 20 top hazardous substances identified by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Groundwater under the facility is contaminated with volatile organic compounds and trichloroethene, a carcinogen, but groundwater off-site has not been tested. The residents all bought homes for $350,000 or greater and seek the option to void the purchase of their homes, expenses and punitive damages. Centex Homes and Western Pacific Housing, a division of Schular Homes have been named as defendants in the suit. Attorney's for the plaintiffs have said that the City of Norco and Wyle Laboratories may also be named as defendants in the future. Knight Ridder Tribune News 1/17/02

On January 16, 2002, it was reported that mold was discovered in one third of the rooms in Chavez Elementary School in Madison, Wisconsin. The school has been closed since mold was first discovered on November 28, 2001. Gazette Extra 1/16/02

On January 16, 2002, it was reported that a Brownsville, Texas health clinic will close for up to four months to remediate mold contamination. The 6500 square foot building opened in 1999. An environmental consulting firm recommended removing all vinyl wall covering, sheet rock and other mold contaminated materials in 6 rooms and associated hallways as well as removal of all ceiling tiles and cabinetry throughout the building. The Brownsville Herald 1/16/02

On January 16, 2002, it was reported that the State of New York has filed suit against two electric utilities for violations of the Clean Air Act (CCA). The state has sued Niagara Mohawk and NRG Energy alleging that their Dunkirk and C.R. Huntley facilities violated the CCA 50 times between 1982 and 1999. These plants are allegedly responsible for 38 percent of all sulfur dioxide emissions and 20 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions released by all New York power plants. These facilities also emit large quantities of fine particulates which can cause, or worsen, respiratory ailments. Lycos Environment News Service 1/16/02

On January 15 2002, it was reported that Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Co. (3M), has stated that it has been named as a defendant in 20,000 asbestos personal injury suits involving some 85,000 plaintiffs. In November 2001, a Mississippi jury ordered the company to pay four plaintiffs $22.5 million. At the end of September 2001, the company reported it had asbestos liabilities of $122 million with $184 million of insurance recoverables. Reuters 1/16/02

On January 15, 2002, it was reported that the EPA is evacuating some 100 homes in Herculaneum, Missouri that have been contaminated by operations of Doe Run's lead smelter. Herculaneum is 30 miles south of St Louis. The smelter has been operational since the 1970s. Nearly 80 of the towns (pop. 2,800) children six year s or younger are lead poisoned. Associated Press 1/15/02

On January 15, 2002, it was reported that mold claims are "beginning to ripple into commercial lines in California." There are reportedly some 2,000 California plaintiffs in pending mold suits. Mold exclusions are proliferating. Building owners looking for mold coverage are turning to expensive pollution liability policies for coverage. Bestwire and Knight Ridder Tribune News 1/15/02

On January 2002, it was reported that between 1994 and 1999, an environmental contracting firm, Carolina Upgrading of South Carolina, falsified test data for some 1,500 underground storage tank (UST) tests for 400 customers in six states. The company provided falsified test data for firms in North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. The company reportedly either printed false graphs for improperly performed tests or did no perform the tests at all. Lycos Environment News 1/16/02

On January 15, 2002, it was reported that Haliburton Co., an oil field construction firm is appealing four recent asbestos personal injury jury verdicts against the company totaling $152 million. On January 4th, the company's stock fell to a 15 year low due to fears of asbestos liability facing the company. Reuters 1/15/02

On January 14, 2002, it was reported that California homeowners premiums rose about 20 percent last year. The state's insurance department attributed the increase to "mold or fear of mold." Knight Ridder Tribune Business News 1/14/02

In January 2002, it was reported that two tenants in a California apartment complex have filed suit against the building's owners alleging they suffered physical injuries and property damages due to exposure to mold in their apartment (Creighton and Hahn v. Park West Apartments). The suit alleges that the owners knew of the mold contamination at the time the unit was leased to the plaintiffs and even after complaints by the tenants did nothing to remediate the mold. Plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages as well as medical expenses. According to the plaintiffs' attorneys, this is one of four mold cases filed against the apartment owners. Harris Martin Columns Mold 1/02

On January 14, 2002, it was reported that the Broward (Florida) School District expected to pay $44 million between 1998 and 2003 on mold remediation at 155 schools. The mold contamination is reportedly to blame for "widespread illness among students and staff at numerous schools." Disorganization and waste have undercut the school district's mold remediation plan. Roof leaks repaired at one school only four years ago at a cost of $365,000 have already deteriorated and had to be ripped out and replaced. Poor design and construction defects are blamed for much of the mold contamination. South Florida Sun-Sentinel News 1/14/02

On January 11, 2002, it was reported that the York County, Virginia school district will install filters on all drinking water fountains in 15 of the district's 19 schools after tests at York High and Yorktown Middle school found lead in drinking water at levels 5 to 7 times acceptable levels. Water for kitchen use is being brought in and the children are now drinking bottled water. Daily Press 1/11/02

On January 11, 2002, it was reported that California has "zero funding" to implement the state's new Toxic Mold Protection Act. Funding to implement Department of Health Services' studies may be delayed for a year. Costs of implementing the research demanded by the law are estimated at $700,000 annually. Knight Ridder Tribune Business News 1/11/02

On January 10, 2002, it was reported that Dow Chemical Co. settled an asbestos suit filed by 14 plaintiffs in Texas state court for an undisclosed amount. Dow's asbestos liability arises from its acquisition of Union Carbide Corp. in 2001. Union Carbide once mined asbestos and manufactured asbestos-containing products. Dow believes that it has adequate insurance coverage to cover its asbestos liabilities. The company's stock price dropped 14% due to investors fears over asbestos liability. Reuters 1/10/02

On January 10, 2002, it was reported that a partial cleanup of a Montana gold mine will cost $33.5 million. Water contaminated by the mining operation will "have to be treated forever." A defunct Canadian mining firm, Pegasus Gold Corp., began mining operations in the 1970s. The operations involved heavy use of cyanide. The company filed for bankruptcy in 1998. The partial cleanup costing $33.5 million is in addition to bonds posted by the mining company which were meant to assure the cleanup of contamination. Seattle Post Intelligencer 1/10/02

On January 9, 2002, it was reported that Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) failed in its attempt to move a case involving 1,250 plaintiffs seeking $500 million in damages from a California state court to a bankruptcy court. The suit alleges injuries caused by drinking water contaminated by chromium 6 which the utility dumped into unlined pits during the 1950s and 1960s. An earlier case involving 650 plaintiffs was settled by PG&E for $333 million. Reuters 1/9/02

On January 10, 2002, it was reported that Moody's downgraded the insurance financial strength rating of Fireman's Fund from Aa1 to Aa3 one of the reason's cited for the downgrade was "uncertainty regarding the company's exposure to asbestos claims." Insurance Day 1/10/02

On January 9, 2002, it was reported that mold remediation at Hamden, Connecticut's Bear Path Elementary School is expected to cost $158,000 plus the costs of air quality testing. Tests revealed very high levels of mold in five classrooms. The New Haven Register 1/9/02

On January 9, 2002, it was reported that insurers estimate that they paid $670 million in mold claims in 2001 - double what they paid in 1999. There are currently some 10,000 toxic mold suits filed in courts around the country. National Center For Policy Analysis Daily Policy Alert 1/9/02

On January 9, 2002, it was reported that an Alabama court has narrowed the scope of a class action lawsuit against chemical manufacturer Solutia. In a suit which originally had 3,500 plaintiffs seeking damages for PCB contamination and exposure in Anniston, Alabama, the court held that only residents that have illnesses linked to the pollutant will be allowed to remain in the suit. Dow Jones 1/9/01

On January 9, 2002, it was reported that a new study released by the Environmental Working Group and the Public Interest Research Group concludes that chlorination by-products (CBPs) in drinking water elevates the risk of miscarriage for more than 100,000 U.S. women. A handful of large cities reportedly put the greatest number of women at risk. These are the Washington DC suburbs, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh suburbs and San Francisco. There are, however, over 1,100 small water systems ion the U.S. that also reported potentially dangerous CBP levels. Some of the highest CBP levels were recorded in small rural water systems. CBPs are created when chlorine reacts with organic matter such as sewage, animal wastes and soil and plant material which have entered the water treatment plant. The EPA has estimated that CBPs cause 9,300 cases of bladder cancer in the U.S. annually. Lycos Environment News Service 1/9/02

On January 8, 2002, it was reported that mold was discovered at Central Middle School in Mt. Morris, Michigan. Stachybotrys was discovered in the school's preschool classroom and band room. Seven additional classrooms are being tested for mold contamination. Some parents of students at the school have reported that their children have developed respiratory illnesses over the past year. The Flint Journal 1/8/02

On January 9, 2002, it was reported that 17 additional New Jersey municipalities have joined Newark in filing lawsuits against lead paint manufacturers. The municipalities allege that the defendants knew that exposure to lead-based paint could cause adverse health affects and are liable for creating "a public nuisance because they created and/or maintained an environmental hazard that will continue to endanger the safety or health of a considerable number of people." The additional municipalities are: Union City, Linden, Irvington, Union Township, Union County, Roselle, Roselle Park, Essex County, Highland Park, Gloucester County, Cumberland County, Plainfield, Camden, Phillipsburg, North Plainfield, City of Gloucester and the Borough of Collingswood. Each municipality is suing: the Lead Industries Assoc., American Cyanamid Co., Valspar Corp., Cytec Industries, Atlantic Richfield, E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co., The O'brien Corp., ConAgra Grocery Products Co., NL Industries, Millennium Inorganic Chemicals, Sherwin-Williams Co. and other unnamed defendants. mealeys.com 1/9/02

On January 8, 2002, it was reported that a new study by researchers at Kaiser Permanente in California concludes that exposure to high levels of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) - particularly in the first ten weeks of pregnancy - increases a woman's risk of miscarriage by six times. "High levels' were defined in the study as being greater than 16 millgauss. The findings were considered significant and were published in the journal Epidemiology. Dow Jones 1/8/02

In January 2002, it was reported that New Jersey homeowners and contractors have reached a confidential settlement in a toxic mold suit (Miller et al. v. James Nigro Inc., et al.). The plaintiffs alleged that construction defects resulted in mold contamination which caused bodily injuries and property damage including loss of furnishings. The couple's young sons allegedly experienced anemia, microcytic anemia, lymphopenia, blood infections and mental anguish. The sons were hospitalized and underwent surgical procedures. The parents allegedly suffered pulmonary injuries and emotional distress. Plaintiffs experts deposed prior to trial reportedly found that the 20,000 square foot home had an inadequate drainage system. Defendants in the case included: James Nigro Inc., the designer, general contractor and broker of the home; Advanced Central Heating & Cooling Inc.; Kevo plumbing & Heating; David O'Donavan, the excavation contractor; Peter J. Mercorelli, the architect; Hudson Engineering Co. and a number of other contractors. Harris Martin Columns Mold 1/02

In January 2002, it was reported that 160 students, parents and staff at two Texas elementary schools have filed suit against architects and contractors alleging a wide variety of injuries caused by exposure to mold (Castillo et al. v. Carroll Dusang & Rand, Inc. et al.). Injuries alleged include: asthma, bronchitis, fatigue, nausea, rashes, headaches, diarrhea, chest pains and eye and ear infections. The suit alleges that design and construction defects lead to mold contamination at Aiken Elementary School and Besteiro Middle School. According to the suit mold contamination can be traced back to 1997, the second year of operation of Aiken Elementary. The Texas Department of Health found aspergillus and penicillium at Aiken in 1998. The Brownsville Independent School Board subsequently paid $144,000 for mechanical upgrades to eliminate excessive moisture and humidity. Mold was then discovered at Besteiro in August 2001. The school board has allocated $900,000 for mold remediation at Besteiro. Defendants in the suit include architectural firm Carroll Dusang & Rand; contractors Stotler Construction Co. and D. Wilson Construction Co.; air conditioning contractor Victoria Air Conditioning, Ltd. and engineering firms CRC Engineering and Coastal Engineering Inc. Harris Martin Columns Mold 1/02

On January 7, 2002, residents of Idaho's Coer d'Alene basin have filed a class action suit against mining companies seeking medical monitoring for up to 100,000 past and present residents. A century of mining has contaminated the areas air and water. The EPA is holding several mining companies liable for its planned $359 million cleanup of the basin. The New York Times 1/9/02

On January 7, 2002, it was reported that Texaco Exploration and Production settled a federal action by agreeing to pay a $243,725 fine for violations of the Clean Air Act at is Aneth, Utah gas plant which is on the Navajo Nation. Violations reportedly including failure to report equipment leaks. The settlement also provides that Texaco will pay an additional $52,275 to provide emergency response equipment and training to the Navajo Nation's Montezuma Creek Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department. Lycos Environment News Service 1/7/02

On January 7, 2001, it was reported that the cleanup of hazardous substances at a Bridgeport, Connecticut plating shop will take up to four months and cost $1 million. Progressive Plating ceased operations in the fall of 2001 and left hazardous substances including cyanides, acids, nickel and zinc in the one story shop. Lycos Environment News Service 1/02

On January 8, 2002, it was reported that new environmental tests and evidence of illnesses have cast doubt on toxic exposures arising from the World Trade Center (WTC) site. Independent tests performed in an air vent of a Battery City apartment building reportedly have found levels of asbestos 555 times acceptable levels. These tests also found dangerous levels of fiberglass. Many people who live or work in downtown Manhattan report "strikingly similar symptoms: nosebleeds, sore throats, bronchial infections, and an endless racking cough." Twenty-five percent of the city's firefighters are experiencing severe coughing and more then 1,000 have filed claims against the city. Four Port Authority police officers at the WTC site have been found to have elevated levels of mercury in their blood. Dow Jones International News Service 1/8/02

On January 7, 2002, it was reported that chemical manufacturer Solutia Inc. is spending between $30 million and $40 million annually on cleanup costs to remediate contamination at and emanating from its U.S. facilities. Solutia, formerly Monsanto's chemical operations, has stated that it believes it has adequate reserves and commercial insurance coverage for all of its environmental and litigation liabilities. A trial is set to begin today involving a suit filed by some 3,500 Anniston, Alabama residents against Solutia alleging injury and damages arising out of PCB contamination. PR Newswire 1/7/02

On January 7, 2002, it was reported that North American Refractories Co. (NARCO), a fireproofing materials manufacturer, is the latest company to file for bankruptcy protection due to mounting asbestos personal injury claims. NARCO is a subsidiary of Austrian fireproofing materials maker RHI. Harris martin New Alert & Reuters 1/7/02

On January 3, 2002, it was reported that attorneys representing some 1,250 plaintiffs suing Pacific Gas and Electric estimate that the claims will yield about $500 million in damages. The utility has estimated the potential liability at $160 million in filings made by its parent company. The litigation arises from allegations that the utility's facility in Kings County, California contaminated groundwater with chromium 6. The current plaintiffs are residents from Kings, Riverside and Bernardino counties. A similar lawsuit against the company resulted in a settlement of $333 million. Associated Press 1/3/02

In January 2002, it was reported that an Arizona court order a home builder and a concrete contractor to pay homeowners $680,000 for mold contamination and water damage (Rivera et al. v. Brown et al.) The plaintiffs alleged that failure to compact the landfill underneath their homes when they were being built resulted in water becoming trapped under the concrete slabs. Mold contamination penetrating up into the structure allegedly ensued. The plaintiffs were originally seeking $3.1 million in bodily injuries and property damage. The jury awarded $680,000 in property damage. The award was divided between the three couples as follows: $335,000 for Rivera; $215,000 for Zestrijian and $130,000 for Pasula. The jury did not award any damages for bodily injuries reportedly because each of the plaintiffs had pre-existing medical conditions and the jury couldn't determine which conditions could be specifically tied to mold exposure. Defendants in the case were: Regal Homes, Inc.; GMS Concrete Specialists, Inc.; Maryland Casualty Co. and Zurich Ins. Co. Harris Martin Columns Mold 1//02

In January 2002, it was reported that after a confidential settlement was reached between the owners of the Henry Phipps Plaza South apartment complex in New York and some 500 tenants alleging mold related injuries the judge allowed the settlement to be disclosed. The case settled for $1.17 million. This is considerably less than the $12 billion being sought by the plaintiffs. This could partially be due to the fact that the judge would not include any plaintiffs with allegations of cancer or wrongful death in the first batch of plaintiffs to go to trial. The $1.17 million settlement will be paid by three insurers: Zurich American Ins. Co., CNA Financial Corp. and Travelers/Aetna Property Casualty Corp. There are still three separate Phipps-related mold cases outstanding which are being handled by a different plaintiff attorney firm. The attorney firm handling the remaining cases obtained a $1 million verdict for two apartment tenants which was upheld by the Delaware Supreme Court. Harris Martin Columns Mold 1/02

On January 4, 2001, a Summit County, Ohio court rejected B.F. Goodrich Company's attempt to collect some $27 million in cleanup costs from London market insurers. The case involved contamination arising from a Kentucky chemical facility. The court held rejected coverage based on late notice. The court found that the company knew of the contamination as early as 1964, but did not notify its insurers until 1989. Dow Jones 1/4/02

On January 2, 2002, it was reported that the State of California has agreed to pay $14.95 million to resolve its liability for contamination emanating from the Casmalia landfill. The site was operational from 1973 to 1989 and received some 5.5 billion pounds of waste including pesticides, solvents, acids, metals, cyanide and other hazardous substances. The site was added to the National Priorities List in 2001. To date, other potentially responsible parties have contributed $30 million towards the cleanup. In May 2001, the State agreed to pay the EPA $99.4 million for past cleanup costs at another landfill, the Stringfellow Superfund site. Chemicals from the Stringfellow site contaminated groundwater and resulted in hundreds of defendants paying residents in the community of Glen Avon, California over $100 million in damages. BNA Toxics Law Daily 1/2/02

On January 1, 2002, it was reported that Solutia Inc., formerly Monsanto, is facing another toxic tort class action suit filed by 3,600 residents of Anniston, Alabama who allege injuries caused by exposure to PCBs emanating from the company's 77 acre facility between 1930s and the late 1970s. To date, the company has paid $40 million to cleanup PCB contamination in Anniston and spent an additional $80 million settling previous suits filed by Anniston residents. Plaintiffs' attorneys have reportedly obtained Monsanto documents, many marked "CONFIDENTIAL: Read and Destroy," which allegedly show that the company knew of the hazards associated with PCB exposures and concealed the information. Monsanto's Anniston facility allegedly was releasing 50,000 pounds of PCBs annually into Snow Creek and had also buried more than 1 million pounds of PCB-laced waste into unlined pits. The Washington Post 1/1/01


Rest of World

On January 31, 2002, it was reported that the Taiwanese Environmental Protection Administration is seeking $28.6 million in damages from the owners of a vessel that ran aground spilling 338,235 gallons of oil last January. The oil spilled from the vessel, Amorgos, contaminated 6,987 square meters of national park shoreline. This is the first case handled by the agency since enactment of their Ocean Pollution Control Law passed in November 2001. Oil Spill Intelligence Report 1/31/02

On January 28, 2002, it was reported that Poland's new contaminated land cleanup law came into effect on October 1, 2001. The law, which requires owners of contaminated land to remediate contamination by June 30, 2004 unless they can prove it was contaminated by a third party, was passed to facilitate the country's entry into the European Union. Financial Times Information Limited 1/28/02

On January 28, 2002, it was reported that the European Commission unveiled its directive on environmental liability. The proposal would enable public interest groups to require governmental authorities to act where industry has caused environmental damage to ensure cleanup and to ensure the enforcement of the polluter pays principle. Strict liability will apply to companies listed in Annex 1 of the directive (these include facilities releasing heavy metals into air or water, facilities producing dangerous chemicals and landfill and incinerator operators). Those causing environmental damage while engaged in activities not listed in Annex 1 could still be held liable but only if negligence is found. Joint and several liability may apply where more than one operator caused the same damage. The proposal does not call for retroactive liability. If agreed upon, the proposal could still take five years before it comes into force and is put into legislation of the individual member countries. Barlow Lyde & Gilbert/Insurance Day 1/31/02, Financial Times 1/28/02, & BNA Toxics Law Daily 1/29/02

On January 23, 2002, it was reported that "Royal & Sun Alliance is seen by the stock market as the [insurer] most exposed [to asbestos claims]." The insurer has reportedly put up GBP317 million (US$448.5 million) in asbestos reserves. According to this article, "now it will surely have to double those provisions." Europe Intelligence Wire 1/23/02

On January 30, 2002, it was reported that multinational Rio Tinto has agreed to settle hundreds of bodily injury claims, including cancers, allegedly caused by emissions from their Capper Pass smelter near Hull in the United Kingdom. Under the agreement, some 400 claimants, including residents who lived near the former smelter site and wives of former employees who were allegedly exposed to toxins while laundering their husbands work clothes, will go before a former high court judge and three professors of environmental and occupational health to determine the viability of their claim and the amount of compensation. The claimants will prevail if there is a 51% probability that pollution from the smelter caused their injuries. Proof of negligence will not be necessary. Payments may well run into millions of pounds. Rio Tinto operated the smelter from 1967 to 1995. Rio Tinto has agreed to will accept the panels verdicts in each individual case. Claimants dissatisfied by the compensation awarded could still sue the company. The settlement was reached after seven years of litigation. The Guardian 1/30/02

On January 19, 2002, it was reported that a Panamanian-registered oil tanker, the Eastern Foritiude, hit a rock off the coast of Thailand and spilling oil into Rayong Bay. Some 63,000 gallons of oil formed a three mile long slick is threatening a seaside resort and a breeding ground for marine life. The oil may reach shore in a few days unless the pace of cleanup is accelerated. The government sill seek at least Bt10 million (US$226,864) for natural resource damages and will also seek an additional Bt7 million (US$158,805) for loss of tourism revenues plus cleanup costs. This will be the first time that the Thai government has given a monetary value to natrual resource damages and the first time the government has imposed the polluter pays principle. Financial Times 2/1/02 & Asian News from AFP 1/19/02 & OIl Spill Intelligence Report 1/31/02

On January 30, 2002 it was reported that Swiss-Sweedish industrial group ABB AG is increasing its provisions for pending U.S. asbestos personal injury claims by $470 million to nearly $1 billion. Its liability arises from its Connecticut-based Combustion Engineering. The company reportedly spent between $120 million and $136 million in settling U.S. asbestos claims last year and spent $125 million in 2000. Some 94,000 asbestos claims were pending against the company, 55,000 of those were filed last year. Associated Press 1/30/02 & The New York Times 1/31/02

On January 25, 2002, it was reported that a new government study concludes that even though Japan burns about 75% of its trash, it may run out of landfill space to dump its industrial waste in less than four years if current trends continue. Illegal dumping is reportedly proliferating. Japan generated about 400 million tons of industrial waste in 2000. Dow Jones International News Service 1/25/02

On January 25, 2002, it was reported that a new study by the London School of Hygiene concludes that the risk of birth defects, such as Down's syndrome, is 40% higher among pregnant women living within three miles of hazardous waste landfill sites. The study was published in the Lancet. This is one of several recent studies linking birth defects to pregnant women living in close proximity to hazardous waste sites. The Irish Times 1/25/02

On January 22, 2002, it was reported that "British insurers fear the toxic mold that could break them..." The article reports that due to fear of large jury awards in toxic mold litigation "several major insurance and reinsurance companies have stopped writing American property business." Knight Ridder Tribune Business News 1/22/02
On January 17, 2002, it was reported that China's Yangtze River is becoming increasingly contaminated. According to The Yangtze River Water Resources Authority, 23.4 billion tonnes of industrial waste and sewage were dumped into the river during 2001. This represents an 11 percent increase over 2000. Parts of the river are reportedly unfit for human use. NewScientist.com 1/17/02

On January 15, 2002, it was reported that 15,600 gallons of radioactive fluid leaked from a pipe at an Australian uranium mine. The mine operator, Heathgate Resources, admitted that the fluid contained both uranium and sulfuric acid. Mining operations at the site include in situ leach which involves pumping acid underground and has resulted in serious pollution in Eastern Europe. The fluid was reportedly contained in a drain surrounding the facility. Legislators and environmental groups are concerned because the operation is very near a major aquifer. Environmental News Network 1/15/02

On January 10, 2002, it was reported that an oil spill occurring at a Fortum refinery, Finland's largest energy company, is underway, but oil continues to leak from cracks in pipes running from the company's Porvoo refinery and a nearby port. The refinery is about 30 miles east of Helsinki. An oil slick 359 square yards in size has been seen in the harbor. Fortum currently is facing fines for two spills that occurred last month from one of its west coast refineries. One of these spills formed a slick nearly 2 miles long and two-thirds of a mile wide. The slick washed ashore on Ruissalo Island. Oil Spill Intelligence Report 1/10/02

On January 10, 2002, it was reported that an abandoned exploratory oil well has been spilling oil uncontrolled into the Ecuadorian Amazon for several months. Local inhabitants reportedly reported the spill to the oil company, Petroecuador in October 2001. Subsequently, an environmental organization also reportedly alerted the oil company of the ongoing spill. No action to stop the spill has been taken to date and the oil has formed a "huge pool' and has killed native wildlife in the area. Lycos Environment News 1/10/02

On January 9, 2001, it was reported that despite efforts to cleanup and emit less pollution, soil and the local food chain in Copsa Mica, Romania, contaminated by decades of industrial pollution will likely remain contaminated for at least another three decades. A local carbon black plant and a lead and zinc smelter allegedly caused much of the lead, zinc and cadmium contamination. Authorities recommend that villagers do not consume milk, cheese or meat produced from animals, or vegetables grown, at Copsa Mica. Physicians report numerous cases of lead poisoning each year among the village residents. The Wall Street Journal 1/9/02

 
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