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California Environmental Disaster Lawsuits
By Jane Mundy
California is increasingly subjected to environmental disasters, from the discharge of toxic chemicals into water we drink to gas leaks contaminating the air we breathe. Oil spills causing coastal water damage have impacted the livelihood and property values of countless Californians. Consequently, citizens and communities are filing gas well lawsuits and gas leak lawsuits, oil spill lawsuits, polluted water lawsuits, contaminated water lawsuits, air quality lawsuits and more.
Environmental law governs any environmental issues regarding individuals, businesses, and government entities. Environment law includes regulations and cleanup regarding hazardous or chemical materials and the consequences of individuals who violate environment statutes; it provides environmental protection for prospective purchasers of environmentally impacted property; and environmental law policy prohibits the dumping of toxic waste or other hazardous materials in our lakes, rivers, streams, and public land.
California Environmental Law
Evironmental protection has become a major issue for Californians and environmental lawyers are continuously putting pressure on California public agencies to protect the public and evaluate potential adverse effects caused by the discharge of toxic chemicals, oil spills, dangerous pesticides, and hazardous materials into the environment. California Environment law firms are increasingly involved with cases related to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions--and more.
People living in California contact environmental law firms about cases typically involving the following:
The Porter Ranch gas leak that has become the largest contributor in California to climate change has also caused thousands of residents to evacuate their homes. Locals have also reported health issues, including nosebleeds, headaches, nausea and rashes. The leak from the broken well at Aliso Canyon, which has released massive amounts of methane gas since October 2015, is expected to be stopped by February 2016.
Porter Ranch SoCal Gas Leak
The massive gas leak also triggered the declaration of a state of emergency on January 6 by California Governor Jerry Brown (under much criticism as environmental attorneys such as Robert Kennedy Jr said Porter Ranch should been declared a state of emergency immediately after the leak was discovered in October 2015).
An environmental class action lawsuit filed on behalf of hundreds of plaintiffs and the "Save Porter Ranch" group against Sempra Energy and its California utility Southern California Gas Company (SoCal) claims the gas was injected underground by SoCal into illegally permitted wells.
Several lawsuits were brought against Pacific Gas & Electric Company, after the release of the movie 'Erin Brockovich' in 2000, showing that 104 people were exposed to contaminated water in the town of Hinkley. The suits alleged that Pacific Gas & Electric exposed people to the cancer-causing chemical chromium (V1) in the town of Hinkley. PG&E agreed to resolve the lawsuits with a $20 million payout, but the company eventually paid $333 million in damages to the 600 townspeople, some of whom developed cancer due to groundwater contamination. The Hinkley cleanup is ongoing.
Hinkley Groundwater Contamination
Water contaminated with hexavalent chromium or Chromium-6 is not only found in Hinkley. A survey from 2010 found the carcinogenic chemical in 31 cities nationwide. In January 2016, residents in Oak Hills, California were informed by the Special District Department Water and Sanitation Division that the levels of Hexavalent Chromium were tested to be above the drinking water standard.
The EPA defines a brownfield as "a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant."Brownfields are typically abandoned, vacant, derelict or underutilized commercial and industrial properties where past actions have resulted in actual or perceived contamination and where there is an active potential for redevelopment. And cleaning up a brownfield often results in the removal of a potential threat to human health or the environment.
California' brownfields differ from those in the Northeast/Midwest United States, largely due to the more recent onset of the industrial revolution in the State. Former manufactured gas plants, and remnants of the computer industry are some key examples of California' "newer" brownfields. Additionally, many "rural"areas in California have significant brownfields problems, e.g., lumber mills.
Brownfields are a constant source of environmental poisoning. Persons working or living nearby are at high risk and environmental illness and cancer caused by chemical injury are on the rise. Here is a list of brownfields in California.
An environmental class action lawsuit was filed in June 2015 against Plains All American Pipeline, stemming from the Refugio State Beach oil spill in Santa Barbara. The complaint alleges the Texas-based company negligently operated the pipeline, Line 901, causing a rupture that discharged over 100,000 gallons of crude oil onto beaches and into the Pacific Ocean, damaging ecologically and economically significant natural resources. The complaint claims violations of state and federal laws.
Santa Barbara Oil Spill
Many lawsuits have been filed against agencies for failure to analyze GHG emissions generated by projects subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
Failure to Analyze Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions
For instance, Attorney General Kamala Harris in 2013 announced a settlement in a lawsuit challenging the approval of an industrial project in Riverside County that would cause additional diesel truck traffic near a community already overwhelmingly affected by diesel exhaust and noise pollution. Harris more recently has filed a lawsuit against SoCal , the gas company responsible for the Porter Ranch gas leak, claiming that it violated health and safety laws by failing to report and contain leaking methane.
The CEQA Guidelines were revised on December 30, 2009, requiring projects subject to CEQA to consider potential environmental effects caused by GHG emissions.
The environmental disaster known as the Butte Wild Fire in September 2015 was presumably caused by a tree hitting a Pacific Gas and Electric power line. Two people were killed and 252 homes destroyed.
California Butte Wild Fire
An environmental lawsuit brought against Sierra Pacific Industries by the US Department of Justice reached a $122.5 million settlement over a 2007 wildfire that was among the most devastating in California history, according to the Department of Justice. The settlement includes a $55 million cash payment and 22,500 acres of land in California owned by Sierra Pacific. See more California Wildfires or Forest Fires
Sierra Pacific Industries Wildfire Settlement
The environmental group Center for Biological Diversity (CDB) filed a lawsuit in July 2015 against the state of California' oil agency for not incorporating certain information into its fracking rules. That information included warnings of the risks fracking poses to drinking water and the environment.
One month earlier, a Kern County group filed a RICO lawsuit, claiming that Governor Jerry Brown' office ordered the California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources ("DOGGR") to approve permits to inject contaminated water in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act.
The RICO lawsuit , dubbed "California' Water-Gate" and filed by the R. Rex Parris law firm on behalf of plaintiff Mike Hopkins, is seeking damages in the tens of millions, which under the RICO statute could be tripled if they prevail in Los Angeles federal court. The case number is 2:2015cv04149.
In 2013 the CDB filed a California fracking lawsuit against the state of California for doing what it deemed an insufficient job of regulating hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking".
Environmental advocates have been seeking to end the practice of oil and gas companies dumping used asbestos drilling mud in California' Central Valley. A number of advocates are concerned that asbestos and other chemicals, all part of drilling mud composition, have been slowly leaching into groundwater.
Asbestos Drilling Mud
In California environmental toxic tort litigation is on the rise, particularly against corporations spilling toxic materials. For example, industrial manufacturing facilities and refineries have been cited for alleged violations of California OSHA General Industry Safety Orders and federal OSHA regulations.
Environmental Toxic Tort
The J.R. Simplot Company (Simplot) has agreed to upgrade and operate emissions controls, and implement improved emissions monitoring, at each of its five sulfuric acid plants including a plant in Lathrop (Alfonso Rivera v. J R Simplot Company et al, Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, Case No. BC440560).
Environmental toxic tort lawsuits involve exposure to toxic chemicals or other environmental pollutants. They generally involve a community or region where residents may have their health and lifestyle compromised and/or their property values decreased, and want to bring the polluters to justice.
California Environmental Disaster Legal HelpIf you or a loved one has suffered similar damages or injuries, please click the link below and your complaint will be sent to a lawyer who may evaluate your claim at no cost or obligation.
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CALIFORNIA ENVIROMENTAL DISASTER LAWSUITS
Porter Ranch SoCal Gas Leak Lawsuit alleging wilful disregard for public health
Class Action Filed Over Massive California Porter Ranch Gas Leak
California Butte Wild Fire May Have Been Prevented
CALIFORNIA ENVIROMENTAL DISASTER LEGAL ARTICLES AND INTERVIEWS
Major Hearing Scheduled in SoCalGas Porter Ranch Well Blowout Case
April 26, 2016Los Angeles (April 26, 2016) (Press Release): A Los Angeles Superior Court will hear arguments tomorrow in the Southern California Gas Company case regarding continued relocation of residents from the Porter Ranch well blowout. This hearing follows the reversal by the California Court of Appeal of another superior court judge who rejected the County’s request for additional time before residents are asked to return. The Honorable John Wiley, Jr. will hear from Plaintiffs and Gas Company lawyers regarding a number of additional issues, including the right of experts jointly retained by the law firms representing residents to inspect the site or whether the CPUC has exclusive jurisdiction over such discovery [READ MORE]
Save Porter Ranch and 24 Residents File Class Action Claim
April 20, 2016Los Angeles, April 19, 2016 (Press Release): - Save Porter Ranch discovered public records showing the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) knew of leaking wells and yet DOGGR repeatedly issued permits to SoCalGas without the proper data showing gas would be confined underground. One example is API 03721313 (32F). Well 32F had a patch installed in 1986, but SoCalGas removed the patch in 2010. Well 32F has not passed any mechanical integrity tests since 2010. As of today, 32F still does not pass any tests and is a significant risk to the health and safety of the community. This is just one example of records showing DOGGR knew of the leaking wells and continued to issue permits [READ MORE]
689 Residents Living Near Porter Ranch File First Wave of Claims Against the State of California for Gas Injection Well Blowout
April 18, 2016Los Angeles, April 15, 2016 (Press Release): - The massive gas injection well blowout of well SS-25 in the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility operated by SoCalGas created a geyser that lasted over three months. Natural gas, noxious odors, hazardous chemicals, and toxic pollutants rolled down the hillside into Porter Ranch and surrounding areas. The blowout ultimately released 100,000 tons of natural gas. The volume of gas ejected was 220 times greater than the volume of oil released during the B.P. oil spill [READ MORE]
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My son who is now 18 with two of the date of the energy injury nitrates in equal from forms for found in our well water Timothy Starkweather is the name of the commercial developer and owner of Home Depot in Turlock my son had brain injury is blind and left side deaf in the left side paralysis ongoing medical procedures
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