Wastewater treatment plants can be found all over the United States, and are designed to clean used water and sewage so that it can be returned safely to our environment. This wastewater comes from homes, schools, businesses, groundwater runoff, and storm water infiltration, and must be sent through several processes in order to safely remove solid particles, reduce pollutants, and restore oxygen. Treatments involve enormous, complex machines, as well as people to operate this equipment. Holding tanks, drums, and other storage systems are also utilized at these facilities to contain the influent sewage while undergoing the treatment process.
With so many environmental exposures present on a wastewater treatment site, it is crucial that the site is properly insured. The chemicals and machinery used in processing wastewater and the resulting solids/sludges can cause bodily injury to workers, site explosions, pollutant discharge into the soil, water, and/or air, and a whole host of other problems that can result in an insurance claim.
Pollution Exposures for Wastewater Treatment Facilities
Wastewater treatment plants may encounter a number of pollution exposures, including:
- The backup or overflow from the sewage treatment facility, with impacts to the interior or exterior of attached
- Possible risk of loss due to an accidental release of water treatment chemicals (e.g., methanol or chlorine) or
allegations of Bodily Injury due to inadequate or excessive treatment.
- A flood event at the property could cause a release of untreated sewage to nearby waterbodies, requiring cleanup or possibly resulting in NRD claims. Other severe weather events (e.g. early freeze) could also cause pipes to break or leach fields to fail, possibly releasing untreated sewage.
- Mishaps during transport or disposal of sludge waste could result in TPL or NODS claims.
Site Pollution Liability for Wastewater Treatment Plants
Wastewater treatment plants should secure Site Pollution Liability to protect their facilities and surrounding neighbors. This coverage offers off-site clean up, defense costs, third party bodily injury, and property damage claims.
Available product enhancements include:
- Transportation Pollution Liability
- Contractors Pollution Liability (for Fixed-Base Operators)
- Natural Resource Damages
- Coverage for Aboveground and Underground Storage Tanks
- Business Interruption and Extra Expense
- Crisis Management Expense
- Extended Reporting Periods
- Combined General Liability/Site Pollution Liability available along with supporting Auto and Excess Liability
Claim Scenarios for Wastewater Treatment Facilities
A chlorine gas release at a wastewater treatment plant resulted in toxic air emissions. Area residents and businesses were evacuated and several people were hospitalized for inhalation of fumes. A total of 12 businesses were forced to shut down for the better part of a day. Bodily injury claims amounted to $70,000 and business interruption claims
A wastewater treatment plant that was 25 years old had been upgraded several times over the years. Improper closure of an old clarifier and on‐site surface impoundment had allowed gradual seepage into the groundwater. These constituents contaminated the underlying groundwater, which was a potable water supply for the neighboring community. The costs for groundwater cleanup and emergency water supply for residents totaled $550,000.
A wastewater treatment plant had been selling its biosolid sludge to a local sod farm to use as fertilizer. Due to the excess moisture content contained in the sludge, a nearby stream was impacted. Residents in the area sued the treatment plant for the cost to remediate the stream as well as loss of enjoyment of the stream. Several customers of the sod farm also sued the farm for selling them potentially contaminated sod. The costs for all claims amounted to $275,000.
A convention taking place at a park was disrupted and forced to relocate because of the odor from a wastewater treatment plant. A suit in the amount of $100,000 was filed against the plant for loss of enjoyment and for costs to relocate the convention.
A wastewater treatment plant maintained its own sewer lines. Due to the age of the lines, several cracks had developed over the years. These cracks had continuously leaked liquid raw sewage over many years and eventually polluted a nearby stream. Residents in the area sued the treatment plant for the cost to remediate the stream as well as loss of enjoyment of the stream. Claims exceeded $350,000.
Do you have a wastewater treatment facility account you’d like to discuss? Contact us.