From liability in Alabama to water withdrawals in Virginia, this month’s state regulatory updates.
Alabama - Company Liability Expanded
Companies in Alabama face increased liability
risks in the wake of a recent state Supreme Court ruling that expanded the
statutory limitations for personal injury actions (Griffin v. Unocal
Corporation et al.) The plaintiff, whose husband worked at a tire-manufacturing
plant in Tuscaloosa, filed a wrongful death action alleging that her husband’s
illness and eventual death was caused by exposure to various chemicals,
including benzene, during his 20-year employment at the facility. He was
diagnosed with leukemia 10 years after he left his employment and died
approximately 5 months after his diagnosis.
Colorado - Roadside Emissions Testing Begins
A trip to a vehicle emissions testing facility
for registration renewal may be a thing of the past, as some residents of the
Denver metropolitan area are discovering. Colorado’s Department of Public
Health and Environment has begun an implementation phase of identifying
high-polluting and low-polluting vehicles using roadside testing equipment.
Under the program, identified clean-operating vehicles are exempt from standard
on-site emissions inspection.
Georgia - EPA Approves Peach State SIP
The federal EPA has approved revisions to the
Georgia State Implementation Plan (SIP), submitted by the Georgia DNR. The
revisions include modifications to the state’s air quality rules for enhanced
inspection and maintenance (I/M). Enhanced I/M was required for 1-hour
non-attainment areas classified as serious and above, under the 1990 amendments
to the Clean Air Act.
Illinois - Radon Public Awareness Law
Those selling residential property already know
that the law requires disclosure of lead-based paint information, but do they
know that they also have to provide information about radon exposure? The
Illinois Radon Awareness Act, which took effect Jan. 1, requires sellers to
provide anyone buying a home, condominium or other residential property in
Illinois with information about indoor radon exposure, and the fact that radon
is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers and the second leading cause
Massachusetts - MMS Favors Wind Project
Cape Wind Associates and those in favor of the
Cape Wind Project welcomed a draft environmental impact statement from the
Minerals Management Service, which found no substantial reason to block the
project on environmental grounds. The Cape Wind Project has been endorsed by
government and environmental groups as the prototypical renewable energy
project. The project would erect 130 wind turbine generators in Nantucket Sound
about 5 miles off the coast of Cape Cod. The turbines are expected to have a
capacity sufficient to meet the electricity needs of about 75 percent of the
population of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
Rhode Island - New Septic Rules Effective
The Rhode Island DEM’s new rules for septic
systems took effect on Jan.1, 2008. But the concrete pre-cast industry has one
year after the effective date of the rest of the rules to diminish and adjust
their existing inventory. The provisions for new or revised standards for
construction of grease tanks, septic tanks, holding tanks and pump tanks will
take effect on Jan. 1, 2009.
Virginia - Surface Water Withdrawals Permit Finalized
The Virginia DEQ recently finalized regulations
regarding water protection permits, in particular the general permit for minor
surface water withdrawals. At the heart of the changes to the regulations is a
clarification of which water withdrawals are excluded from the permit
requirement. This is accomplished in part by establishing a distinction between
major (90 million gallons per month or greater) and minor (less than 90 million
gallons per month) surface water withdrawals and providing regulatory
exclusions for certain surface water withdrawals from permit requirements.