A water treatment plant supplied potable water to 10,000 residents. A malfunction at the plant allowed an improperly treated volume of water to be distributed to the residents. As a result, a large number of residents became ill and several were hospitalized. The residents filed a class action suit against the water treatment company for bodily injury as well as pain and suffering. The General Liability policy denied the claim citing the total pollution exclusion on the policy. A court awarded the residents $750,000 in damages. In addition, the water treatment plant incurred $300,000 in legal defense expenses.
At a transfer station, vandals littered an area with debris and overturned drums of chemicals and maintenance fluids stored at the site. The vandalism went undetected for more than a week. The contents of the drums seeped into on-site and off-site soils and contaminated area groundwater and residential wells. Costs for property damage claims from nearby residents and for soil and groundwater cleanup exceeded $500,000.
A reconditioning facility used various cleaners, degreasers and paints that were washed into the floor drains. These entered the site septic system. Soil and groundwater contamination was discovered on and off-site as a result of the septic tank leach field. The United States Environmental Protection Agency tested site soils and groundwater. In addition, neighbors filed a class action suit for cleanup and a decrease in property value due to the contamination. Total cost for remediation and claims settlement surpassed $500,000.
Rainwater accumulated inside piles of tires at a tire storage and disposal facility in a Southern state. The standing water in the tires and the warm climate attracted mosquitoes and other pests, creating a breeding ground for a variety of rodents and insects. The tire storage and disposal facility backed up to a residential area. Residents initially complained of the stench and the eyesore, then became concerned about the potential for malaria and other illnesses carried by the insects and rodents. The residents joined forces with a local citizens action group and filed a $7 million suit against the facility for perceived bodily injury, future medical expenses for their children and future veterinary expenses for their pets.
A recycling facility used sulfuric acid in their process and stored it on-site in a 20,000-gallon aboveground storage tank. The storage tank was contained by two foot high, chemically sealed masonry walls. Overnight, an area high on the wall of the storage tank ruptured, releasing the sulfuric acid. The leak squirted beyond the containment, releasing approximately 3,000 gallons of the tank contents into the soil and into an adjacent stream. Government-mandated costs for cleanup of on-site soils, the stream and the stream bank exceeded $1 million.
A fire erupted at a warehouse housing a variety of materials. Flames spread to the hazardous areas sending dangerous vapors throughout the adjacent community and hazardous liquids into the surrounding soils. The fire department’s hazardous materials team had to control the extent of contamination. Hundreds of community members filed a class action suit, citing health problems from inhalation of toxic vapors and property damage from hazardous firewater runoff. The state regulatory agency and the EPA determined that the site and surrounding properties must be cleaned up, resulting in expensive remediation costs. The total costs for citizen suits and remediation exceeded $545,000.
At a cold storage warehouse, daily maintenance was being performed on the ammonia refrigeration system when a gas release occurred. Neighboring businesses were evacuated until the gas dissipated. A few of the neighboring employees complained of headaches and nausea, and the businesses filed claims against the warehouse for business interruption and bodily injury, which totaled $85,000.
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.Â Claims exceeded $350,000.
A power plant stored baghouse dusts containing heavy metals in an uncovered dumpster behind their facility. Whenever it rained, stormwater mixed with the dusts, forming a slurry that ran off-site. Soil testing of a nearby stream bed showed high levels of lead, cadmium and mercury. The power plant was determined to be the source of the off-site contamination and responsible for cleanup costs exceeding $250,000.
These claims examples have been provided to us by our insurance companies over the years. These represent actual environmental claims they have seen. While the coverages we offer are designed to address these general issues, we make no guarantee or warranty that any individual policy we offer will respond to all issues as described herein. Please refer to the actual policy wording in each offered form to determine coverage applicability and acceptability.