Articles Posted in Environmental contamination

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 1980’s. He participated in many of the major Superfund cases in the Midwest during the early years of Superfund enforcement in the late 80’s and early 90’s. 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

Thumbnail image for usa-1356800_1920.jpgThere are many potential reasons why you might want to contact your state’s most important environmental and health agencies. Usually it is because you are concerned about an environmental issue in your area. Here are 10 questions you may want answered:

(1) Is there an environmental investigation being conducted in my area into possible groundwater or air contamination?

(2) Has a local plant, factory or landfill been cited for violating environmental laws or regulations?

Thumbnail image for FOIA-20rotator.jpgGovernment Often Keeps Us in the Dark

Is your government protecting you? If your air or water is contaminated, and your government knows it, it’ll tell you, right?

Sadly, the answer to these questions is often, “no”.

landfill-879437_1920.jpgAll landfills produce gas. The decomposition of the garbage dumped there sets off a chemical process that produces potentially many different kinds of gasses. If you live near a landfill-particularly near an older or still operating landfill-you should be concerned about whether the landfill’s gasses are negatively affecting your family’s safety.

The focus of this blog is landfill gas migrating below the surface. If not properly collected and treated, it can migrate away from the landfill via underground pipes, or the local soil composition (geology), if it is porous enough to allow the migration. Why is this underground gas migration a problem? Because these migrating underground gasses can be explosive, if trapped in confined spaces, such as a manhole, or the utility room, crawl space or basement of a nearby home. Methane is the gas to be concerned with here. It has been known to travel as far away from a landfill as a quarter mile or more, even almost three quarters of a mile in one landfill case in which I represented the local affected families.

If you are concerned about whether your landfill’s methane gas may be migrating to your neighborhood, please use this “Landfill Gas Explosion Hazard Checklist”, provided by the Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry (ATSDR), to help you figure out whether there is a legitimate concern, and, if so, what to do about it. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/hac/landfill/html/ch3.html

Thumbnail image for children-1309318_1280.jpgI strongly believe that there is. As a lawyer who has represented many thousands of families victimized by contamination of their air and water, I see the same things happening over and over again:

·Poor, inner-city minorities are disproportionately the victims of these environmental problems. To a far greater degree than their percentage of the population, poor minorities live near the factories, landfills and traffic that belch filth into their environment. And they don’t have the resources to move away from it to protect themselves.

·Sometimes, the pollution comes to these poor, minority citizens….in the sense that a city will be much more willing to, say, permit a power plant to operate near poor minorities than permit it to be located in a middle class neighborhood, or, God forbid, an upper class neighborhood. And other times, the poor minorities come to the pollution….because it’s just cheaper to find a home or apartment there. But, regardless of whether poor minorities come to the pollution, or vice versa, the two often wind up as “neighbors”.

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