A setback for the truck-maker in Navistar v. EPA

International trucks on display at a show in China, April 2011. Creative Commons-licensed photo by Flickr user SimonQ.

In a followup to my story last month, I just wrote about a development in Navistar v. EPA, the lawsuit that the truck company with the local manufacturing arm filed against the environment agency.

How this setback for Navistar will affect the overall suit, if at all, I’m not sure. I don’t have a cadre of legal experts yet in my contacts. I could have lifted a quote from Law360, but a full subscription — the only option available — is out of reach for our newsroom.

Yet, I used the service to get the initial information. Without it, I wouldn’t have known to do the story.

This is I think the third time I’ve used Law360’s free case law updates (narrowed to the environment subject area) to find a story. A couple months back, my editors and I tried to subscribe, so that I could read full articles. It’s just not worth it. I think they said $1,200 a month. With their free daily updates, I can just read the first few graphs and get the case number for PACER, circumventing the news company. Obviously the most valuable thing is the timely news update itself, and they’ve giving it away.

My editors would love to pay Law360 on a per-article basis, or at least on a single-user basis. No dice. The company should really consider a less-costly option for smaller-market news reporters.

Mercury poisoning saga

Joel Hogue tests mercury vapor in bags containing clothes removed from the Moore family home. Some bags tested around 100 times the limit considered safe. Photo by Barbara J. Perenic, courtesy of the Springfield-News Sun.

Hey everyone. Check out my initial article and followup to the story of the family that had to leave its home because of a mercury spill. They had lived with the toxic vapors their entire 3-month tenancy.

Both articles appeared on A1 below the fold.

It’s a tale of caution: get a professional home inspection before you buy an older home, and before you rent one, take a close look for any mercury-containing devices.

I would also ask about any old engineering-type components that have been removed from the home in recent years, and ask to talk to previous tenants to see if they had any health problems while living there.

Update: Here’s the third story in the saga: Thieves looted the house while it was vacant, stealing all the major appliances, including the mercury-tainted washer and dryer. Beware what used machines you buy.

Ohio EPA called out U.S. EPA — at *my* meeting!

The time I had to write this report could have been rounded to zero.

The space I had to write this report was 1/4 what I would have written if I had all the space I wanted.

But it turned out beautifully, as my editors kept all the needed details, which, frankly, were astounding.

I wouldn’t have wanted to be a U.S. EPA staffer at last night’s meeting. Because I would have been yelled at for 2 hours, including by the person I pay to help the local community group (which didn’t make it into the story).

Read the report here.

Chicago: the greenest city *snicker*

Based on the frequency of news coverage about polluted soil or buildings in Chicago, you might think there really isn’t much of that here. After all, only a single EPA National Priorities List site exists in Chicago. But it was tough to get listed because the city would rather not have those blemishes on its record.

And cleanups of pollution happen all the time, all over the city, as the map below shows when you zoom into Chicago. Have there have been any near your house or workplace in recent years? The key below explains the different colored pins.

BLUE: Federal CERCLA (“Superfund”) sites in Illinois that are on the National Priorities List. There is only one NPL site in Chicago, at Lake Calumet on the far south side. (Note: Except for the location of the Lake Calumet site, these pins are approximations based on the city associated with the listing.)

YELLOW: CERCLA cleanups that are NOT on the NPL, whose city is listed as “Chicago.” Exact addresses were used in this case. These cases, as you’ll read below, are interesting.

TURQUOISE: “Non-voluntary” (usually court-mandated) cleanups performed or supervised by Illinois EPA. Again, exact addresses used.

A few disclosures after the break…

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