Articles Posted in Environmental contamination

ford-2691853_1920-1-300x209Recent news reports have revealed that a benzene leak at Ford’s Assembly Plant in Flat Rock, Michigan has contaminated the sewers in a 4-square-mile—and possibly larger—area of the city. As a result of the benzene leak, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is recommending that residents who live in the area bounded by I-75 to the east, Gibraltar Road to the north, Cahill Road to the west, and Woodruff Road south, evacuate until further notice. Initially, 10 homes and one school were evacuated, but now, because it is unclear which homes may be at risk, the MDHHS is recommending that the entire neighborhood evacuate.

Why Should Residents Evacuate?

Residents may be at risk of exposure to high levels of benzene, a volatile organic compound (VOC), which can be harmful to human health. Measurements of air in buildings and sewer lines have shown that VOC levels exceed health-protective and explosive levels.

Explosion-1-1-300x188The Collins Law Firm, P.C. has filed a class action lawsuit against Chemtool Incorporated on behalf of residents affected by the explosion that occurred at their Rockton, Illinois plant on June 14, 2021. The explosion resulted in an enormous chemical fire that created a massive plume of toxic smoke, ash, and debris that could be seen from 100 miles away. Eighty-nine fire departments were dispatched to the site to aid in combating the fire, however, due to concern about the environmental impact to the nearby Rock River, they did not engage immediately in fire suppression activities.

As a result of the fire, the Winnebago County authorities issued an executive proclamation of disaster emergency and ordered a mandatory evacuation of residents living within a one-mile radius of the plant. The affected residents were directed not to return home even for medication, technology and communication devices, or other personal items.

Authorities also advised residents within three miles of the plant to wear masks for protection against the potentially toxic and harmful chemicals released by the fire, and to remain indoors without using their air conditioning. Residents were further warned not to touch any of the debris on their property but to have it removed by professionals with experience working with hazardous materials.

Explosion-1-300x188UPDATE: The Collins Law Firm. P.C. and Miner Barnhill & Galland, P.C. have filed a class action lawsuit against Chemtool Incorporated on behalf of residents affected by the explosion and fire that caused them to be evacuated from the area.

A massive explosion and fire at the Chemtool plant, 1165 Prairie Road, in Rockton, IL, has caused huge plumes of ash and debris to blanket homes and businesses two miles and further from the plant, not only in Rockton but in South Beloit and other communities, as well.  Chemtool manufactures greases, including lithium, lithium complex,  aluminum, and clay/bentonite greases.

Along with the debris, it is likely that toxic chemicals have also been released into the air in these communities, and that residents will be inhaling them for some time to come.  Local officials have issued a mandatory evacuation order for residents living within a mile of Chemtool due to the falling ash and the potentially dangerous chemicals released in the fire. At least 1000 residents have been evacuated, along with several businesses. In addition, anyone within three miles of the plant has been advised to wear a mask for protection.

trump-2546104_1920-300x211Since taking over, the Trump Administration has wreaked havoc on the environment, destroying environmental protections left and right. Trump has targeted rules that he thinks are burdensome to big business, even though environmental protections are generally good for the economy. Closing his eyes to this fact, Trump issued the “Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.” This Order directs the heads of agencies, like the EPA, to review all existing regulations “that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources, with particular attention to oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy resources.”

Trump’s Executive Order has certainly been efficient at endangering the earth. As of June 2019, the Trump Administration has rolled back or is in the process of rolling back over 80 environmental rules and regulations. These rollbacks and proposed rollbacks reach every aspect of the environment, from emissions to endangered species. Rollbacks currently in effect include:

  • Lowering fines for automakers who do not meet average fuel efficiency standards

A cancer diagnosis is scary, sometimes devastating. pink-ribbon-3715346_1920-1-300x200 But it is all the more so if your cancer might have been caused by exposure to a toxic chemical in your home, air, or water.  There is a true sense of violation and betrayal when a cancer victim realizes that her illness might have been caused, for example, by the careless dumping of industrial chemicals by a company in her neighborhood.  It may even be a company where the cancer victim herself, or a family member, worked for many years.

What should she do to find out if the company—the neighborhood polluter– caused her cancer? And beyond that, how can she find out if she has a toxic tort lawsuit against the polluter for her cancer?

To get answers to these questions, you will need to find an environmental lawyer who handles these kinds of cases—called “toxic exposure” cases.  Here are some of the critical questions that an experienced toxic tort lawyer will explore:

Want to Pollute in Illinois? Go Ahead, Governor Rauner Won't Stop YouApparently unconcerned that Illinois is one of the top 10 states for industrial air and water pollution in the country, Governor Rauner’s administration is failing to police and penalize industrial polluters. Put more bluntly, Rauner and his EPA are giving polluters a pass.

The Illinois EPA, unlike the US EPA, cannot penalize polluters on its own. It can investigate and negotiate informally with companies, but if a deal cannot be reached, it has to refer the matter to the Illinois attorney general, who can file a civil or criminal complaint. This is the Illinois EPA’s most powerful enforcement tool.

Unfortunately, this is where Rauner’s administration is failing the state. The Illinois EPA has cut back sharply on referring cases to the state’s attorney general. According to a Chicago Tribune analysis of enforcement data, Rauner’s EPA has averaged only 80 referrals a year to the attorney general, compared to 189 for Blagojevich and 144 for Quinn during similar time periods. The result is that, since Rauner became governor in 2015, Illinois has sought only $6.1 million in penalties from polluters-about one-third the amount demanded during the first three years under his two predecessors. (And the amounts sought were paltry, even under previous governors.)

Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, the latest in a parade of dreadful environmental nominees is back.

In December, the Senate sent the nomination of Kathleen-Hartnett White–for Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality–back to the White House for reconsideration, believing that Trump would submit someone else. Instead, Trump–in an obnoxious and lazy move–has booted her name right back to the Senate. Now it is up to the senators to put aside party politics and reject this disastrous nominee permanently.

Hartnett-White was an unqualified nominee from the start. A controversial Texas environmental regulator who has called carbon dioxide “the gas of life”, and denied that human activity is causing climate change, Hartnett-White’s initial confirmation hearing was a disaster. 1 She struggled to answer even basic scientific questions, prompting one senator to call her testimony “some of the most embarrassing” he’d ever seen, and later stating that she was unqualified and “didn’t understand high-school level scientific principles.” 2

Ford Plant Livonia.jpgLIVONIA, Mich. August 8, 2017 – More than 130 homeowners in the Alden Village neighborhood of Livonia, Michigan will be filing a lawsuit against Ford Motor Company, alleging that dangerous chemicals from Ford’s nearby Transmission Plant have migrated into the neighborhood, contaminating groundwater and soil, and threatening the intrusion of chemical vapors into their homes. Attorneys for the homeowners will file the suit in Wayne County Circuit Court tomorrow, August 9.

THE PRESS CONFERENCE WILL BE HELD

TOMORROW, WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 9, AT 1:00 PM EST,

Thumbnail image for Norm Berger.jpgAfter serving as co-counsel to The Collins Law Firm in many ground-breaking environmental cases over the last 18 years, Norman Berger has joined the Firm as of counsel, where he will help lead the Firm’s efforts to demand clean up and financial compensation for the families they represent who have been put in harms’ way by dangerous chemical contamination.

Norm’s long track record in this area is extraordinary:

He has been litigating environmental cases for over 30 years, beginning with his work as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Illinois enforcing environmental laws in the 1980s. He participated in many of the major Superfund cases in the Midwest during the early years of Superfund enforcement in the late ’80s and early ’90s. He tried one of the first Superfund private cost recovery cases in federal court, and has since been involved in litigating environmental cases under the federal Superfund statute, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and many State statutes nationwide. For the last 18 years, together with The Collins Law Firm, Norman has represented individuals and families whose homes have been contaminated by industrial pollution, resulting in diminished property values, property damage, and serious health issues. Their efforts in this area have resulted in remedies ranging from mandatory property cleanup to the provision of clean water supplies to monetary reimbursement for property damage and medical expenses in excess of $65 million. This includes negotiating a $7.2 million settlement in a toxic tort case for a client whose childhood exposure to chemicals caused cancer.

climate-change-2254711_1920.jpgThe world is heading for a potential climate catastrophe and a recently released report has unmasked the biggest corporations responsible. The report entitled “Carbon Majors: Accounting for Carbon and Methane Emissions 1854-2010”, by researcher Richard Heede, “offers the most complete picture to date of which institutions extracted the fossil fuels that have been the root cause of global warming since the Industrial Revolution.”

In other words, this report lists which corporations are responsible for the majority of the carbon dioxide emissions that are fueling climate change. It’s obvious that energy corporations would be on this list. What is surprising is how few corporations can be responsible for so much. A full 63% of carbon dioxide emissions since the 1850s can be traced back to only 90 of the largest fossil fuel and cement producers in the world. Predictably, the United States accounts for a large share of these corporate giants. Among the nefarious 90 are the 21 American corporations listed below:

Chevron Texaco

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