March 19, 2019

House drops and crumbles, exposing asbestos

WITH his house collapsing around him, Woolgoolga resident Ron Harris thought he was experiencing an earthquake.

After making sure his 14-year-old son was safe, he fully expected to go outside and see destruction.

But to Mr Harris’s surprise, his house was the only one affected. Heavy rain last week had drenched the ground, moving the piers and making the house drop more than a metre in seconds.

Making things even worse, Mr Harris was told he could not enter the structure to retrieve any possessions because asbestos had been exposed.

“It hit the deck in about five seconds flat. I heard a creak and then a rumble and the next minute it went bang to the ground,” Mr Harris said.

“Some piers came up through the floor. I’ve got a massive big coffee table and it had completely flipped upside down and in its place I saw this bulge – it was one of the piers.”

With the house his children grew up in gone, he will have to wait and see what can be salvaged, but he said the biggest losses were the Thumpster motorcycle his son spent a year saving for and a ride-on lawnmower he’d spent hours restoring.

The family has spent the first week couch-surfing with friends and have had some help from North Beaches Care, but Mr Harris will have to wait for structural engineers to finish assessing the house before knowing whether he can salvage anything.

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House drops and crumbles, exposing asbestos

Asbestos-plagued Ocean View accused of 'witch hunt'

Asbestos-plagued Ocean View accused of ‘witch hunt’

The Ocean View School District board of trustees declined to disclose what went on during a closed meeting held Monday to discuss the disciplining or firing of a high-level employee — a procedure that some are calling a “witch hunt” over the district’s asbestos crisis.

More than 100 people gathered before the meeting, most speculating that Assistant Supt. Roni Ellis was the subject of the discussion for her role in the crisis. The district temporarily closed three campuses after asbestos was discovered during a modernization project and is busing the students elsewhere. Ellis oversees administrative services, including the troubled renovation, which began during the summer at 11 schools.

The district is reeling under a multimillion-dollar budget shortfall caused by the cost of construction and asbestos removal.



  • Topics

  • Elementary Schools
  • MapMaps
  • Huntington Beach, CA, United States

  • On Monday, teachers, school officials and other community members told trustees that they were appalled by what they called a rush to remove Ellis rather than grapple with the district’s financial problems and closed schools. Several said the district is plagued by low morale and high turnover in administration.

    “The witch hunt has got to stop,” said Patty Schraff, a fifth-grade teacher at Oak View Elementary School, one of the closed campuses.

    Board President Gina Clayton-Tarvin and Supt. Gustavo Balderas said after the meeting that they could not comment because it is a personnel matter.

    Ellis said she hadn’t received written notice from the board regarding possible disciplinary action or dismissal.

    California’s open-meetings law, the Brown Act, requires public agencies to give an employee 24-hour written notice before a disciplinary meeting is held behind closed doors. Without notice, any disciplinary or other action taken in the closed meeting would be invalid.

    “I don’t know what their motivation is,” Ellis, who is out of town, said in a phone interview before Monday’s meeting.

    Ellis was appointed to her position in July, the month the modernization project began. An 18-year district employee, Ellis previously directed middle school programs and was a school principal for 15 years.

    Before her appointment, the job of assistant superintendent had been vacant for about a year, Ellis said. During that time, trustees approved contracts for renovating 11 schools with new lighting, ceilings, flooring and, in some cases, air conditioning.

    Under her three-year contract, Ellis can be fired only for “cause,” she said.

    “I’ve been extremely committed to the district.” Ellis said.

    Ray Silver, a former city manager of Huntington Beach, questioned why the board hadn’t hired a professional project manager to handle the modernization.

    “If Roni made a mistake, it was agreeing that she didn’t know what she didn’t know,” Silver said. He urged trustees not to make Ellis a scapegoat.

    Asbestos was detected in some classrooms after the project began. The cleanup process closed Oak View, Lake View and Hope View elementary schools and left many parents furious as they watched their children — more than 1,600 in all — being temporarily bused to classes at eight schools in four districts.

    On Dec. 9, officials from the Orange County Department of Education warned trustees that the cost of removing asbestos, coupled with the modernization project, had created a $7.8 million shortfall.

    Two days later, trustees voted to delay asbestos removal and construction at Oak View, where work had not yet begun. They also agreed to finish asbestos removal and architectural design at Lake View but to delay modernization work there.

    Cleanup and construction at Hope View are well underway.

    The board asked district administrators to return with a revised work plan for trustees to review. Balderas said he hoped to present a plan the first week of January.

    When Hope View, Oak View and Lake View were built decades ago, asbestos was used as fireproofing on metal beams above the ceilings. Over time, asbestos dust began to fall from the beams and settle on classroom ceiling tiles, district records show.

    Asbestos that hasn’t been disturbed isn’t harmful to people, but it can become a hazard when the dust becomes airborne. Inhaling high levels of asbestos over a long period can cause cancer and other lung disease, experts say.

    According to district documents, test results at Lake View showed airborne asbestos in two classrooms higher than levels set in the federal Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act, which regulates how much asbestos can be present in public buildings like schools.

    At Hope View, a sample taken in one classroom contained a single asbestos fiber.

    No air samples taken at Oak View were above the legal threshold, according to district documents.

    Tests at eight other schools showed no significant level of asbestos in the air, the district said.

    Staff writer Hannah Fry contributed to this report.

    Taken from:

    Asbestos-plagued Ocean View accused of 'witch hunt'

    Asbestos Attorney Recognized by Super Lawyers’ 2014 Edition

    Asbestos Attorney Amber Long

    Asbestos Attorney Amber Long

    NEW YORK, New York (PRWEB) September 30, 2014

    Asbestos attorney Amber R. Long, an associate at Levy Konigsberg LLP (“LK”), a nationally-recognized mesothelioma law firm, has been selected to the Super Lawyers 2014 New York Metro Rising Stars list. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor.

    Amber joined LK in 2006 and, initially, worked in the firm’s national asbestos litigation department. She represented mesothelioma and lung cancer victims in lawsuits filed around the country including in Delaware, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Louisiana. Recently, she has joined the firm’s New York City asbestos litigation department.

    Amber takes pride in representing hard working men and women suffering from debilitating and often deadly cancer as a result of their exposure to asbestos. She is highly skilled in all aspects of asbestos litigation from the initial client meeting through trial and appellate practice.

    In addition to her asbestos experience, Amber assisted in the litigation of three cases in the Southern District of New York against tobacco companies on behalf of the families of people who began smoking as children, struggled to quit smoking, and eventually died of lung cancer. In the course of this litigation, Amber and LK partner, Jerome Block, obtained multimillion dollar verdicts on behalf of two separate families against Brown & Williamson (successor to American Tobacco Company) (1) and Philip Morris USA, Inc (2).

    Amber is a member of several professional associations, including the American Association for Justice, the New York State Bar Association, and the New York City Bar Association. She is admitted to practice law in New York, New Jersey, before the United States District Courts for the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York and for the District of Connecticut, and before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Amber earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Cornell University in 2002. In 2005, she graduated magna cum laude from Brooklyn Law School.

    Levy Konigsberg LLP has been representing mesothelioma and asbestos lung cancer victims for more than 25 years.

    Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a patented multiphase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area. The result is a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of exceptional attorneys.

    (1) Eileen A. Clinton, on behalf of herself and as administratrix of the estate of William A. Champagne, Jr., vs. Brown & Williamson Holdings, Inc., as successor by merger to American Tobacco Company, and Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 05 Civ. 9907 (CS) (LMS) (S.D.N.Y);

    (2) Florence Mulholland, on behalf of herself and as administratrix of the estate of David Mulholland, vs. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 05 Civ. 9908 (CS) (S.D.N.Y).

    Continued here:

    Asbestos Attorney Recognized by Super Lawyers’ 2014 Edition

    Travelers ordered to pay over $500 mln in asbestos case

    (Adds Travelers, lawyer’s comments)

    By Jonathan Stempel

    NEW YORK, July 22 (Reuters) – A federal appeals court ordered Travelers Cos Inc to pay more than $500 million to thousands of asbestos victims in a case stemming from the insurer’s coverage of Johns-Manville Corp, an insulation maker that spent six years in bankruptcy during the 1980s.

    The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York reversed a February 2012 ruling in which U.S. District Judge John Koeltl said conditions under three settlement agreements in 2004 that required Travelers to make the payment had not been satisfied.

    Writing for a three-judge appeals court panel on Tuesday, Circuit Judge Ralph Winter said Koeltl’s interpretation “could not reasonably have been intended by the parties, whatever Travelers’ private hopes and dreams, and is not supported by the language of the agreements.”

    The 2nd Circuit ordered the reinstatement of a 2011 ruling by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Burton Lifland, who oversaw Johns-Manville’s bankruptcy, that Travelers make payments required under the 2004 agreements, plus $65 million of interest. Koeltl had reversed that ruling. Lifland died in January.

    Patrick Linehan, a Travelers spokesman, said the insurer is reviewing Tuesday’s decision, and has set aside reserves to cover the entire payout, apart from interest payments.

    Many companies had stopped using asbestos for fireproofing and insulation by the mid-1970s after it was linked to cancer and other diseases. Litigation persists because the effects of exposure can take decades to surface.

    Now owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc , Johns-Manville had from the 1920s to 1970s been the largest U.S. maker of products containing asbestos.

    It filed for bankruptcy protection in 1982 under the weight of asbestos litigation, and settled various claims in 1986. Johns-Manville emerged from Chapter 11 in 1988.

    The 2nd Circuit rejected Travelers’ contention that it need not pay claimants in light of a June 2009 U.S. Supreme Court decision that limited claims against the insurer, and a separate decision by the 2nd Circuit the following March. It also said Travelers had waived potential objections to the payment.

    “Obviously, we’re gratified,” said Ronald Barliant, a partner at Goldberg Kohn in Chicago who represents about 1,600 claimants. “Payments should have been made five years ago.”

    Sander Esserman, a partner at Stutzman, Bromberg, Esserman & Plifka in Dallas representing other claimants, said he looks forward to Travelers “paying the thousands of plaintiffs who are owed money.”

    Paul Clement, a partner at Bancroft PLLC who represents other claimants, was not immediately available for comment.

    The 2nd Circuit heard oral arguments in January 2013.

    Separately, Travelers on Tuesday posted a larger-than-expected 26 percent drop in second-quarter profit, as hail and windstorms boosted catastrophe-related losses. Its shares fell as much as 5.1 percent by early afternoon.

    The case is Common Law Settlement Counsel et al v. Travelers Indemnity Co et al, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Nos. 12-1094, 12-1140 and 12-1205.

    (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli, Lisa Von Ahn and Tom Brown)

    Original link:

    Travelers ordered to pay over $500 mln in asbestos case

    'I just put on gloves and got on with it'

    The asbestos was left on the verge for two months before the woman moved it back into her backyard.

    The asbestos was left on the verge for two months before the woman moved it back into her backyard. Photo: Echo Newspapers

    The Swan shire has come under fire for leaving a pile of asbestos on a verge in Middle Swan for around two months, without covering it or putting on any signage to warn people of the health hazard.

    The debris was created when a resident on the corner of Bishop Road and Brown Street pulled down the fence and dumped it in the yard of the house next door – before she erected a new fence.

    When unwitting tenants moved into the house on Brown Street they assumed the asbestos was fibro and took the pile to the tip.

    But the tip refused to accept the asbestos because the hazardous material was not properly wrapped.


    Following his unsuccessful trip to the tip, the worried tenant put the asbestos on the verge to keep it away from his partner and her two children, and the pile has sat on the verge uncovered since before Christmas.

    Brown Street resident Rita Reinholdtsen said at least six phone calls had been made to alert the shire about the asbestos on the verge by concerned neighbours, but it was not removed.

    “Instead the owner of the fence kept getting extensions on the timeframe she was given to move the asbestos pile she had created.”

    “At the very least the shire should have covered it or put tape around it or signs to alert people of the health risks.

    “There’s a young lass next door who is pregnant, she walks to school with her four-year-old and her mother-in-law and they walk right past it every day.”

    The Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia president Robert Vojakovic agreed the shire had been irresponsible.

    “It has been reported to the city, they know it’s on the verge, they can remove the asbestos and recoup the cost,” he said.

    “The fact it has been allowed to sit on the verge since before Christmas is extraordinary.

    “There is also the issue of risk management – you can’t expect ordinary people to clean this up.”

    Shortly after Echo News put an enquiry in to the city the resident who originally pulled the fence down was told by a council representative she had to remove the pile as a priority.

    So she, and her two teenage daughters, picked the asbestos sheets up off the verge and threw them back over the fence into thier backyard.

    Mrs Reinholdtsen said she was horrified to watch them handle the asbestos without any masks on.

    “They just had gloves and shorts on – no protective clothing and obviously they don’t understand that fibres get stuck in your clothing and lungs.”

    The woman who removed the asbestos said she recieved no help from the shire.

    “I would have been fine paying back the shire if they removed the asbestos and then billed me but when I asked them who could I contact to remove the pile for us, if they knew a contractor, I was told to use Google.”

    She said she felt pressured after a phone call from the shire on Tuesday, so she put on some gloves and just got on with it.

    But Slater & Gordon asbestos lawyer Laine McDonald said residents who cleaned up disturbed asbestos risked being exposed, especially without adequate respiratory protection.

    “Around 250 Western Australians die every year from asbestos-related diseases and as long as asbestos products remain in our community we continue to be at risk.”

    A Department of Health spokesperson said the City of Swan’s environmental health officer was the first point of contact for residential asbestos issues.

    The spokesperson said if a resident had problems contacting the shire they could call the Health Department’s Environmental Health Directorate on 9388 4999.

    “[The directorate] will follow-up with the relevant local government to ensure that any potential risk to public health has been appropriately managed.”

    The spokesperson said it was not the City of Swan’s responsibility to remove the asbestos.

    “But it can do if there is a default in complying with a notice, and costs can be recouped at a later stage.

    “Under the Health (Asbestos) Regulations there is no set timeframe when asbestos needs to be removed.

    “However, a notice or verbal advice would normally specify that this would be expected as soon as possible and practical.”

    Mr McDonald said anyone who was worried about exposure to asbestos should add their details to Slater & Gordon’s online register.

    “These important particulars are recorded in perpetuity, so that people don’t have to remember vital details if they’re dealing with an asbestos-related disease in decades to come.”

    The City of Swan was contacted for comment.

    – Echo Newspapers

    Continued here:

    'I just put on gloves and got on with it'

    Ohio company faces actions on asbestos, taxes

    Ohio company faces actions on asbestos, taxes

    Jan. 09, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

    SOUTH POINT, Ohio — The Portsmouth Local Air Agency has issued a notice of violation concerning the handling of asbestos at the South Point Biomass Generation property in the South Point area.

    Meanwhile, the office of Lawrence County Prosecuting Attorney Brigham Anderson is preparing to file a foreclosure action against the 88-acre Biomass property, saying the company has not paid county taxes for the past three years. The property is not in the village of South Point, but is surrounded by The Point, a 500-acre industrial park which is in the village limits.

    “They owe $27,000 in back taxes,” Anderson said. “We’ll be filing the foreclosure action this month.”

    More than a dozen years ago, Biomass officials proposed building a multimillion-dollar generating plant to produce electricity at the site. The plant was to burn wood waste. No such plant has ever been built, and on several occasions county officials have filed suit seeking back taxes on the property.

    The Portsmouth Local Air Agency, which handles air quality issues for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, received a complaint last fall about how Biomass employees were handling asbestos fibers during a demolition metal scrapping work being done on the third floor of the power house building.

    Samples of suspect regulated asbestos-containing materials were observed at several locations in the building on Oct. 22, and analysis confirmed that friable regulated asbestos-containing materials were found at the site, according to the notice of violation. Two partial adjacent buildings to the power house building also had been demolished and removed, according to the notice.

    “A notice of violation was issued,” said Cindy Charles, director of the Portsmouth Local Air Agency which covers Lawrence, Scioto, Brown and Adams counties. “It’s an ongoing investigation, and I can’t comment further.”

    Mark Harris, Biomass owner, couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.

    “This was reported by a private citizen,” said South Point Mayor Ron West. “The property isn’t located in the village, but it does concern us. Apparently they have stopped doing it.”

    Biomass failed to notify the proper agency before the demolition work in a building containing asbestos, according to the notice of violation. State regulations require the asbestos to be removed from a building prior to demolition, and that wasn’t done at the power plant building, according to the notice of violation.

    “It was observed that the contractor was not using water to control dust from the mechanical demolition activities,” according to the notice of violation. “The contractor was observed demolishing/scrapping in the power house building at the South Point Generation Biomass facility without using water spray to control visible emissions being created by the demolition activities.”

    The materials were being placed in an open and unlined roll-off box, another violation, according to the notice.



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    Ohio company faces actions on asbestos, taxes

    At SUNY-ESF, SALTS Lab Focuses on Asbestos, Airborne Fibers

    At SUNY-ESF, SALTS Lab Focuses on Asbestos, Airborne Fibers

    Syracuse Asbestos Laboratory Testing Service earns New York State Department of Health certification

    Newswise — As universities nationwide are under pressure to prove their economic viability and value to the community and prospective students, a team at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) in the Salt City is accomplishing just that with the new testing lab called SALTS.

    Syracuse Asbestos Laboratory Testing Service, founded by microscopy experts on the ESF campus in Syracuse, N.Y., has earned New York State Department of Health certification as an official testing lab for airborne fibers as of November 2012. SALTS staffers examine filtered samples from air monitors at construction sites, schools or other structures for the kind of microscopic fibers that could indicate the presence of asbestos or other contaminants that would require special handling or remediation at the site.

    The lab has been busy in its first months of full operation and is processing multiple sets of samples weekly with eight to 12 samples per set, said Robert P. Smith, lead technical director of SALTS and assistant director of the N.C. Brown Center for Ultrastructure Studies at ESF. The cost for the service is competitive with other labs and varies depending on the desired six- or 24-hour turnaround time, Smith said.

    Turnaround time can be essential particularly if concern about suspect material has shut down a public building, stopped a renovation or forced residents from apartments, he noted.

    In the start-up phase, the first six months of 2013, the lab generated nearly $10,000 in revenue for the N.C. Brown Center with another $2,000 outstanding, said Dr. Susan Anagnost, SALTS technical director and director of the N.C. Brown Center. Fees charged for the lab service help offset maintenance expenses for the costly equipment used in the center, said Anagnost, who also is chair of the Department of Sustainable Construction Management and Engineering at SUNY-ESF.

    The process of getting the lab certified and into full operation has taken almost two years. Anagnost and Smith earned their certifications in asbestos analysis in 2011 at the McCrone Institute in Chicago. Now Smith teaches students a course in fiber analysis that leads to their state certification.

    It’s not often that a student can take one course and with that class alone become a valuable commodity in the employment market but that’s what happens at SALTS for those microscopy students who complete the certification process. Of the four students he has trained, four are employed by SALTS now and the lab has a continuing need for more, he said.

    Tiffany Brookins-Little is an undergraduate studying biotechnology and works as client services associate and analyst for the lab. She plans to use her microscopy skills in medical research. In her work at the lab, Brookins-Little notes, she gains problem-solving and leadership skills along with specific knowledge about the six different types of asbestos. The other employees are Kaitlyn Smith, an ESF biology graduate; Jeremy Sullivan, a master of science candidate in chemistry; and Taylor Della Rocco, a sophomore majoring in environmental science.

    SALTS staffers do not gather fibers in the field, but rather examine samples supplied by contractors. After slides are prepared from the samples, SALTS technicians search by light microscopy for the presence of fibers as small as 5 microns long with the distinctive shape and in the numbers that U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration or National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health rules say require more extensive testing and perhaps remediation.

    Students in Smith’s class gain essential expertise in the operation of various microscopes that make them highly valuable in research and in the commercial market, he said. Microscopy involves not only knowing how to operate each type of microscope, but also knowing which type suits a particular kind of research, how samples must be prepared for their reliable interpretation and proper record keeping and maintenance. The complexity of the field of microscopy and the need for skills in it for research, scholarship and industry has led ESF to create a new minor in microscopy that includes the use of both light and electron microscopes, Anagnost said.

    The lab’s work is not limited to asbestos although it created a fine acronym, she said. The microscope reveals details about many different materials. While the problem of asbestos contamination could be finite, it’s not likely to go away soon nor is the prospect of fiber contamination. The lab was created in response to a demand from contractors experiencing considerable delays in getting results from labs backlogged with requests for testing, Smith said. Dr. Beth Arthur, a recent staff research scientist was instrumental in recognizing how the lab could meet the needs of industry and she gathered much of the documentation needed for certification of the lab, noted Anagnost.

    Demand has been sufficient for SALTS to begin to seek backing for adding a new transmission electron microscope (TEM), which would be used in research and teaching as well as asbestos determination, said Anagnost. Certain types of samples require TEM for asbestos identification, and a locally operated machine such as this would shorten the turnaround time for local contractors.

    The 30-year-old transmission electron microscope at ESF in its own pristine room is booked for use. A log shows recent users from Syracuse University, ESF and industry in Central New York have had need for the instrument even as much more modern equipment has come on the market. While scanning electron microscopes scan the surface of an object, transmission electron microscopes transmit an electron beam through a thin section of material allowing observations on a cellular level. There’s much more to be revealed by the latest technology, however.

    “The new ones easily see and identify atoms,” Smith said.

    Anyone wishing to contact the SALTS lab can email


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    Original source:

    At SUNY-ESF, SALTS Lab Focuses on Asbestos, Airborne Fibers