California Water ServiceEarlier this week, the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) announced that Baron & Budd client, California Water Service (Cal Water), has won a NAWC Management Innovation Award for its approach to treating water contaminated by soil fumigants containing 1,2,3-trichloropropane (TCP). On Oct. 9th, the 2018 NAWC Water Summit in San Antonio formally recognized Cal Water.

TCP has been found to be highly toxic in drinking water. Through animal studies, researchers have concluded that TCP is a potent carcinogen. Concern over TCP’s toxicity led the State of California to adopt a Public Health Goal (PHG) for TCP of 0.7 parts per trillion (5 ppt), one of the lowest PHGs ever set. In 2017, California went a step further and adopted a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 5 ppt for TCP.

On November 2017, Baron & Budd secured settlements from Dow and Shell, which each manufactured soil fumigants that contained TCP.  Cal Water used the settlement funds secured by Baron & Budd to purchase a granular-activated carbon treatment system to address the TCP contamination and comply with State regulation. This treatment system was concurrently installed at 21 Cal Water sites with the highest TCP concentrations beginning in 2017 and was then extended to all Cal Water sites in 2018. The settlement funds enabled Cal Water to make these sweeping changes without increasing customers’ water rates.

“We were extremely pleased with the result of the settlements we were able to secure on behalf of Cal Water, as well as Cal Water’s ability to rapidly put those dollars to work to protect their customers,” said Baron & Budd Shareholder, Scott Summy.

In addition to the award for its approach to treating TCP contaminated water, Cal Water was also recognized for its innovative sample tap adapter kit. The kit has helped to eliminate non-representative water samples, saving the utility thousands of dollars related to additional sample collection, testing and customer notifications.

PCB Water Contamination Seattle

Gomez Environmental Law Represents Seattle and 5 Other Cities Against Monsanto for PCB Water Contamination

Gomez Environmental Law and Baron & Budd recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of the City of Seattle against Monsanto Company for PCB contamination of city storm water and urban run-off. Seattle joins 5 other major American cities, including San Diego, San Jose, Oakland, Berkeley, and Spokane. The lawsuits allege that Monsanto was the sole manufacturer of PCBs in America between 1930 and 1979 when PCBs were outlawed by Congress due to their toxic effects on the environment. PCBs are man-made chemicals that cannot be contained, last decades, and are toxic. Impaired bodies of water such as San Francisco Bay, San Diego Bay, the Lower Duwamish River, and the Spokane River are polluted with Monsanto’s PCBs. The lawsuits allege Monsanto manufactured, promoted, and sold PCBs despite knowing that PCB were a toxic “global contaminant,” becoming one of the largest man-made public nuisances in the country.

“These cities are standing up for clean water and holding Monsanto accountable for pushing a chemical that it knew was toxic, could not be contained, and lasts a very long time,” says John Fiske of Gomez Trial Attorneys. Scott Summy of Baron & Budd says, “Monsanto unleashed an environmental virus and now wants the taxpayers to clean it up.”

Gomez Trial Attorneys and Baron & Budd have received high levels of interest from major municipalities up and down the west coast and expect more lawsuits to be filed.

Water Contamination

Animas River fouled by 1 million gallons of contaminated mine water

On August 5, 2015, the Animas River was contaminated with heavy, toxic metals such as lead and arsenic after the U.S. EPA mishandled a cleanup effort at the Gold King Mine in Silverton, Colorado. The Animas River runs throughout Colorado and into New Mexico, intersecting with the San Juan River.

For days, the Animas turned bright yellow-orange as metal particles flowed through the twisting river. In addition to the acute pollution, the heavy metals sank into the river sediment, potentially causing longer-term problems.

Much has been made in the media of EPA’s negligence. However, the less popular but possibly more important story lies in the many abandoned mines throughout Colorado and the country, which are potential sources of future toxic contamination. In fact, some have suggested the mines in Colorado should become a Superfund site.

And, while there are a few hundred abandoned mines around the Animas River area in Colorado, there are thousands of abandoned mines throughout the country.

Whatever the fate of the Colorado mines and the thousands of mines throughout the country, it is clear more toxic disasters are sure to occur.

The EPA and others have been quick to declare water quality standards are back to pre-spill conditions. But, that conclusion does not tell the whole story. Many questions remain unanswered. What is the quality of the sediment? What are the long-term effects of sediment pollution in the Animas? What was the water quality of the Animas prior to the spill due to those abandoned mines? And, how many more mines are ticking time-bombs?

Gomez Trial Attorneys’ Environmental practice handles water contamination cases, including surface water, groundwater, drinking water, and storm and waste water.

Please call John Fiske on 619.237.3490 or visit our news section to learn about our water contamination cases.